After the worst flooding in a very long time, Calgarians had begun to pull together – helping those in need, mucking out basements, volunteering in the community, and for several competitors in the recent Earbender Cup competition, setting up a benefit concert for the Red Cross relief effort.
The first applause of the night was for the Mikey’s Juke Joint staff member who turned on the ceiling fan to help ease the discomfort of the day’s heat. The next applause came for Earbender Cup contender, Lisa Westera who started the concert with her sweet sounding, pitch-perfect vocals accompanied on keyboard. Lisa chose a good mix of cover songs that were able to connect with the wide age range of patrons there that night. Many people did not know about the fundraiser and were just in the right place, at the right time, having their meal and catching this great set. The familiarity of the songs brought a comforting calm that was much appreciated at a time when Calgary has experienced such upheaval in the wake of the historic flood. Many people quietly sang along to the songs, most notably the tear-jerker, “Hallelujah”. It was a great way to connect everyone in the place.
Up next was the alt-country band, “Elbow River”. They are named after the river that the band members have lived on at one time or another, which runs east from the Rocky Mountains, through Bragg Creek, eventually joining the Bow River in Calgary. This is the same river that flooded just ten days prior to this concert. The tightness of the vocal harmonies and the instruments was a real treat and may be partly due to the close family relations within the group. The members of this acoustic group are: Leanne Copithorne on vocals and rhythm guitar, Tim Jeffrey on lead guitar, Charlie Copithorne on mandolin, Kaitlin Copithorne on vocals and accordion and Kaitlin’s fiance, Brandon Smith on bass guitar. They did many cover songs and a few tunes of their own from their upcoming debut album. The set was just perfect for getting everyone in the mood for Stampede.
Earbender Cup winners, folk-pop duo, Georgia Sound came on stage to also offer up their musical talents for the Red Cross. They encouraged everyone who put in ten dollars or more to take home one of their “One Way Path” EPs. Their catchy music seemed to grab everyone’s attention and more and more people took them up on their CD offer as the night went on. It was hard to believe such a full sound came from just two people, Ryan Roy on vocals and acoustic guitar and Shannon Magee on vocals and keyboard. It won’t be long before their rich sound is being heard in larger venues as they are sure to gain many new fans after their new recording is released this summer. Georgia Sound’s great stage presence and charisma will also help take them far.
It was nice to see the camaraderie of all the artists that night. They were friendly competitors for the Earbender Cup and even friendlier collaborators that came together for the Ears for Calgary fundraiser. Not only do they make beautiful music but they were all shining examples of the spirit of Calgary citizens who donate their time and talents for the benefit of those in need during this time of clean-up and rebuilding. All together, those in attendance donated $562.50, all of which went to Alberta Flood relief efforts.