As the province of Alberta started mopping up from the devastating floods that struck Southern Alberta June 21st, Calgary native Jann Arden sat by her phone waiting for the call she knew was coming.
“It was inevitable I’d be called to perform in a charity benefit,” said Arden on the phone from suburban Springbank, as she prepares to perform amongst a star-studded line-up of artists including; Loverboy, Nickelback, Randy Bachman, the Sheepdogs, Tom Cochrane. Ian Tyson, Matthew Good, Corb Lund, Johnny Reid and The Sadies. The concert will be hosted by Corner Gas TV star, Brent Butt. “I think everyone was on a holding pattern. We were waiting for someone to say, `we need you here,’
[quote]The Flood Aid Concert has really proved how resilient this community is and how willing people are to step up[/quote]“Staging a concert is such a natural thing to do. At times like this, it is natural that people turn to music, it’s such a spiritual, uplifting experience,” noted Arden. “These events are so celebratory, I love doing these events, and they bring out the best in everyone. It’s not about them, it’s about the people.”
As for the concert itself, Arden notes that everyone knows when they’re on and that they will be doing three or four songs each. “In the industry, we call these events plug and play – there’s no sound check,” she notes. “You have a really great crew on stage, which are busy plugging in your instruments so you can hear something when you start singing. “Somethings will go sideways, some guitars won’t work when they should do and sometimes vocal mics die but I don’t think people really care about that stuff
“This whole gig on Thursday, yes it’s about raising money for the Alberta Foundation but this is also about, patting ourselves on the back, as far as Albertans go, they did an amazing job, I was surprised by the generosity of my own city, to see 10’s of thousands of people coming out to volunteer to help people they don’t know. Yes this concert is about fund raising, but it’s also about joy, it’s about celebrating the human spirit at a time when we are surrounded by a load of crap.”
An epiphany which came to Alberta Flood Relief chairman, Peter Jurisic sparked the idea for Thursday’s fund-raiser at Calgary’s McMahon Stadium which kicks off at 6 p.m. “I was sitting at my computer when I had this idea about staging a charity concert,” Jurisic said in an interview with The Calgary Herald. “So I made a couple of phone calls and talked to some people and it’s amazing how these things can grow into something like this. It’s organic, it’s amazing how when you put a few seeds into the ground and throw some water on it, if it’s a good idea, and there’s a good cause, it’s amazing what can come together.”
Heading the list of some 500 volunteers is concert producer Harvey Cohen, head of The Union Entertainment Group. Cohen is experienced at staging major concert events including the 2008 Ozzy Osbourne Monsters of Rock Festival at McMahon Stadium, and even he is blown away by the level of support he has received in staging the event.
“The Flood Aid Concert has really proved how resilient this community is and how willing people are to step up,” noted Cohen to the Calgary Herald. “We had companies calling us saying `I want to do this for free’. “It didn’t take us beating down some of the doors because those people were coming to us.”
A prime example of support came from Vancouver’s BC Place who sent $3 million worth of flooring on six flat-bed trucks to McMahon Stadium to protect the turf.
With solid corporate support and the talent all playing for free, the Alberta Relief Fund is projecting a profit of over one million dollars. At the time of writing virtually all 30,000 tickets had been sold with some of the artists going to great extremes to participate.
“Nickelback’s gear was en route to South America, when they rerouted it for the concert,” allowed Cohen. “Those guys will be somewhere between $50,000 and $100,000 out of pocket by the time they play this gig but that doesn’t matter to them.”
With temperatures forecasted to be in the high 20’s centigrade, Jurisic and Cohen promise a fun-filled event kicking off with a Calgary Stampede barbeque, Food trucks, merchandise (including a special souvenir t-shirt) plus a `Boots On’ pre-concert event in the Stadium parking lot.
And to mark this as a truly special event, all concert-goers are being requested to wear wellington boots in tribute to all the volunteers who responded to help out this region during its recent troubles.
Loverboy photo by: Charles Hope