Alberta roots musicians are coming together on Friday to make beautiful music for a good cause.
The first Acoustic Christmas Benefit Concert is being held at The Hub in downtown Red Deer to help out a Red Deer clubhouse for mentally ill people, as well as the local food bank.
Red Deer singer Donna Durand is slated to perform some of her original folk tunes. She’s on the concert bill with Calgary bluegrass artists Steve Fisher and The June Bugs, Edmonton roots singer Bob Jehrig, Okotoks folk artist Paul Rumbolt, Marc Ladouceur and Anna Somerville, Monica Wade and Doug McLean, Ruth Henderson and Lindsay Stewart, Justine Vandergrift, Will White and Byron Myhre, and others.
The goal is raising money for A Gathering Place, which feeds people who are on fixed incomes because of mental illness, and also helps them learn skills in a supportive environment.
The clubhouse at 5021 Ross St. is member-run, offering toonie dinners on Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays for qualifying people on a disability pension.
As well, there are opportunities for members to learn about meal preparation, budgeting, shopping, and even running a small concession.
The drop-in club can always use some more cash donations to help with food purchases — and even to install some needed new electric doors, said manager Deana Thompson.
“I want to send a big thanks to the musicians” who are donating their talents to the cause — and also to concert organizers, she added.
Any food donations brought to the concert will benefit the Red Deer food bank.
Organizer Renay Eng-Fisher, a member of The June Bugs, has always been drawn to humanitarian causes, including fundraising for the food bank in Okotoks.
Eng-Fisher is an environmentalist with a Masters degree in Environmental Education and Communication from Royal Roads University in Victoria.
She’s also a bassist and singer-songwriter who released a self-produced bluegrass recording in 1996.
When Eng-Fisher was asked to do a musical fundraiser in Red Deer, she readily agreed.
“I was also very poor and know how it feels to be without food,” said the singer, who had a turbulent childhood.
Her father had been a Chinese orphan, who was saved from the streets by the monks who raised him. After immigrating to Canada, her dad worked as an herbalist and often received gifts-in-kind as payment from his clients.
These included bottles of alcohol — which created problems for the family.
Eng-Fisher said her father’s method of punishment was kicking his kids out of the house for days or a week at a time.
Hearing about others who are going without “touches my heart. I love giving back,” said the performer, who got a bunch of fellow musicians together for the local benefit, which will be emceed by Tom Coxworth.
The 6 p.m. concert will be held at The Hub, 4936 Ross St. in Red Deer. Admission costs $10 plus one food item.
Tickets are available from A Gathering Place, 403-309-7772, The Hub, 403-340-4869, or 53rd Street Music.