By Keith Sharp
As the COVID-19 continues to hamper Ed Sousa’s attempts to raise funds for his Ronald McDonald House charity, he is still creatively engineering different ideas to generate much-needed capital.
Titled VIP ME, Sousa is initiating an opportunity where members of the general public can receive personal videos from a select group of musicians offering anything from personal greetings to 30-minute songwriting tips or even personal performances. Artists featured in this program include Gord Deppe and Sandy Horne of The Spoons, Jean-Marc Pisapia of The Box, Dale Martindale and Derrick Gyles of Images In Vogue, Carole Pope, Farrington+Mann (formerly of When In Rome) and Peter Nunn (Honeymoon Suite) just to name a few artists who have committed to this program.
“I am aware that the idea of celebrities sending personal messages is a commonplace occurrence, but in most cases, these messages are pre-taped with the recipient’s name simply inserted into the message,” explained Sousa who operates as public relations director for Mississauga Ontario’s Classic Bowl venue. “But with VIP Me, the actual celebrity will talk in real-time with the recipient, they will deliver the greeting or spend a 30-minute time block, passing along songwriting tips or giving a performance, all on Zoom from the comfort of the recipients own home.”
Known for his Rock N Bowl Sessions – events that raise funds for Ronald McDonald House, Sousa was stymied from staging a two-night event last May when the COVID-19 virus put paid to two shows set to star Honeymoon Suite, Saga, and Harlequin in the first show and a second show originally set to star Information Society, Strange Advance, The Spoons and Images In Vogue.
Both shows had sold out, most ticketholders are holding on to their tickets but now he is at the mercy of both the Provincial Government and the Peel Region health department to determine when his two shows can go ahead this year. If things do go as scheduled, the first show will go on May 14th and the second show is set for May 15th.
Also, the three intimate and interactive show, played to a limited audience of 100 people are still set for April 25th the Secret Show – featuring a surprise band, and May 16th Strange Advance & The Grapes of Wrath (May 30th)
“Everyone has agreed to return but we don’t know when we will get the all-clear, we just have to keep all our options open,” Sousa allowed. “There’s a lot of money at stake. Deposits have been paid out to the artists and we have already pre-booked plane tickets for Strange Advance and Information Society. We don’t get refunds from the airlines just future credits but they have to be used inside 12 months otherwise we have to rebook, which will be expensive.”
But one charity event which was successful was his New Year’s Eve viral Pajama Party which featured five hours of music played by former MuchMusic Veejay Michael Williams and featured numerous cameos by the likes of The Spoons, The Box, Honeymoon Suite, Carole Pope, China Crisis, A Flock Of Seagulls, Images In Vogue and Saga.
“Our goal was to raise enough funds to support 20 families to stay at Ronald McDonald House but we actually raised enough money to support 27 families,” beamed Sousa. “And the artists themselves had so much fun. Gord Deppe sang one new song right after the New Year countdown and alone raised $1,250.”
For further information on the VIP ME program,
please email firstname.lastname@example.org