Red Deer rocker Jesse Roads organized his first charity concert with his sister, Crystal, when he was 12 and she was 14.
They booked some professional musicians to raise money for the local food bank — and “my mom had to buy beer for the band,” he recalled with a chuckle.
Roads, who’s now a 38-year-old singer/songwriter, feels fortunate to have had someone “as passionate and crazily talented” as his big sister in his life.
“Not only did she influence my musical journey; rather, she was an enormous part of the journey itself.”
The first shows he performed were produced in partnership with his sister.
“We would do food drives and punk rock shows to raise money for local charities and create awareness in our community…”
Roads felt like he lost the better part of himself when Crystal, who had been raising a family in Three Hills, suddenly died from an undiagnosed heart condition at age 33 in 2012.
In the years since, he’s always done impromptu annual concerts to mark her birthday.
This summer, Roads is formalizing the effort to keep Crystal’s altruistic spirit alive by performing what he hopes will become an annual benefit show on Aug. 11. This year, it will fall on what would have been her 40th birthday.
Two local charities will gain proceeds from The Roads to Hope show at The Krossing in Red Deer — the Mustard Seed School Lunch Program and GuitarZ for KidZ.
Roads noted volunteers at The Mustard Seed made 56,000 lunches for Red Deer school children last year to ensure no student goes hungry. Roads feels a personal commitment to this effort as “I come from a background of needing lunches…”
GuitarZ for KidZ Red Deer, started by David Gilmore of Gilmore Guitars, and guitarist Don Routley, gives donated, refurbished guitars and lessons to youths — and some adults — who could not otherwise afford to play.
Roads believes as a parent and music lover, his late sister would have endorsed both causes.
He hopes to get a big crowd out for “an incredible night of rock ‘n’ roll” with special-guest local bands Wiklund vs Wiklund and Ten 02.
The Lethbridge native, who moved as an adolescent to central Alberta, grew up listening to diverse influences, including Jimi Hendrix, Elvis Presley, Guns ‘N’ Roses and Pink Floyd.
The indie blues/rock/folk musician has been performing since he was 14 years old and has shared stages with The Lazys, One Bad Son, Doc Walker, The Odds, The Northern Pikes, and many other bands.
Roads, named “Master of Blues Folk Rock” at the 2015 Black American Music Awards, has toured the country and drawn inspiration from people he’s met and stories he’s heard along the way.
His last live, acoustic recording, Demos and Daydreams, featuring Charlie Jacobson on guitar, was released last fall.
Roads said he’s amassing more material for his next recording and plans to test run some of these songs on the audience at the benefit show.
“It’s going to be exciting to share… I’m working on some pretty cool new stuff.”
Advance tickets to the 8 p.m. charitable show (that was recently moved to The Krossing from the Memorial Centre) are $20 from showpass.com or jesseroads.net.
On the night of the concert, any available tickets can be obtained by donation at the door.