Jess de Leon likes to make people smile, and he’s found a way to do it: through music.
The 59-year-old, who played the guitar many years ago in his high school days, picked it back up when he moved to Red Deer eight years ago.
For the past few years, he’s been writing songs and playing duets with plenty of popular local musicians, including Dean Ray, Randi Boulton and Curtis Labelle at The Hub on Ross.
He even wrote part of the lyrics in the #familyislove project, an anti-bully song by Labelle.
That passion, combined with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, inspired de Leon to help out. The artist will hold a one-hour acoustic show on Sunday to honour front-line workers, first responders and also those who have stayed home to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.
He said with gathering limits extended to 50 people or less, along with a big community space where he lives in Vanier Woods, everything seemed to line up.
“I’ve been doing acoustic gigs at The Hub on Ross, starting like two years ago. I started playing there. It’s really fun. I got into music. I’m not a professional. It felt so rewarding personally,” said de Leon, who works part time at Costco.
“Then, with COVID-19, people are isolated. In my own house, my wife and I are front-liners… I thought why don’t I come up with something in the neighbourhood. We are in a new community in Vanier Drive, there are 15 families here. There’s a wide lawn space… so I said why not?”
De Leon hopes 20 to 30 people will come out, provided they are practising proper social distancing. He even noted that a few local businesses have offered up some prizes for a mini giveaway.
“What better way to give back to the community, than to offer one hour of acoustic music, and people can walk away with some freebies?”
He’s expecting to play between 15 and 20 songs; some original, and some covers.
The one-hour show will start at 6 p.m. on Sunday at 207-148 Vanier Dr.