Kenyan Charity Show at Kildare packed with Songwriting Heavyweights

Jamie Greer

I recently saw a bill for a show that I think deserves more recognition and attention than what I’ve seen it get and that’s a Charity event at The Kildare House (1880 Wyandotte St. East) on Friday February 27th for Rafiki Kenya.

I’ll get to the line-up in a second, but regardless of the names on the bill, it’s the cause that’s the star of the show.

Rafiki Kenya is a local charity that is hoping to make an impact in people’s lives. An impact that, once fully realized, will help a people realize their own hopes and dreams. In 2003, when the current Kenya government took over, they eliminated tuition fees for plain ol’ regular school. Enrolment went from 60% to nearly 100%, as people from this African nation all took advantage of the need for education. But the massive influx has meant that schools where not in place nor ready to accept this massive surge in enrolment.

Rafiki Kenya has chosen one school to help out personally and this is something I think is commendable. Sure, there are hundreds of schools in Kenya that need help and attention, but if you were to send to an organizaton that broke down contributions and distributed, very little would get done and schools would take forever to improve. Not to mention the chance of the schools actually getting the money. So much aid money is re-routed into the pockets of crooked politicians.

But Rafiki Kenya is sending all their aid and relief efforts to the Murungaru Primary School. They are setting realistic goals of helping the school improve itself for the sake of improving life for the children it is educating. One by one, goals are set and challenges are faced head on. Currently, they are seeking to help construct new latrines (washrooms) to replace the unsanitary ones currently being used as well as the construction of a multi-purpose room, which could be used for things like a counseling room or a library.

The thing I found comforting is that this group, Rafiki Kenya, is a non-religious, non-denomination group. The fact that there is no underlying religious intent of conversion for the exchange of aid is something I can get behind. The right to live and to live healthy should not come in exchange for redemption, salvation or conversion. It should come from simply being. Although they do receive aid from various religious groups, they are not themselves affiliated with any one religion or denomination. It is an all encompassing relief effort relying on basic human compassion not Catholic compassion or Jewish compassion or Muslim compassion. Wonderful stuff.

So on Friday February 27th, Rafiki Kenya is having a charity event at The Kildare House and they’ve picked an absolutely fantastic line-up of musicians who are donating their services for an absolutely fantastic cause.

For only $8, you will get to witness these fine eight artists in musical action:

Stefan Cvetkovic
Although not a member, Stefan is guilty by association of being part of the Michou set. He routinely plays with them in the area as well as Michael Hargreaves’ solo sets, so chances are if you’ve seen Michou in the Windsor-London area, you’ve seen Stefan (under the banner of Efan!).  His quirky indie pop is infectiously warm and he’s currently working on his debut release to be out later this year.

Eric Welton
One of Windsor’s nicest guys, thanks to Chatham, Eric is a multi-talented musician and songwriter. Apart from writing some of the area’s finest sing-a-longs (his ‘Drunkman Trilogy’ is one of my favourites), he is also an outstanding producer, recording tracks and bringing out the best in many local musicians, including Travis Reitsma’s outstanding debut from last year, Bluebeard. Eric is currently promoting his latest effort, Fool Heart.

Joel Bruyere (of Thousand Foot Krutch)
Joel is probably best known as the bassist in the alternative rock band Thousand Foot Krutch but he’s got much more than that on his resume. Apart from touring the nation and sharing the stage with a diverse array of bands such as The Yeah Yeah Yeahs, KoRN, Dashboard Confessional, AFI as well as Windsor’s own Neverending White Lights, Joel has a side project called The Drawing Room and it was in his very attic that local (and national) favourites Michou recorded last year’s brilliant Myshkin.

Jim Meloche & Kyle Marchand (of Orphan Choir)
Orphan Choir
has managed to erupt from Windsor’s punk scene into a whole new realm and genre of their own, combining strong lyrics with a musical sense that comes from honesty and truth. It incorporates the best of folk, roots and rock and roll with the DIY of punk, and they’ve been pushing forward at their own pace with great success. Split 7″ vinyls, recording with legendary Canadian producer and musician Ian Blurton (C’Mon, Change of Heart) and a new CD on the horizon, Orphan Choir is on the batter’s deck to be one of the next Windsor names to be critically recognized by the nation. Vocalist Jim Meloche and guitarist Kyle Marchand are sure to deliver a special treat as they present a stripped down version of what they do best: tell great stories.

Adam Rideout-Arkell (of Yellow Wood)
Adam is 1/3 of perhaps one of Windsor’s finest musical offerings of the last four or five years, and that is the band Yellow Wood. Their first two EP’s are some of the most gorgeous music you’ll hear, epic and symphonic without overpowering the simply melody of a good song. Yellow Wood has been hauntingly quiet of late, but not because of anything sinister. They’re holed up and putting the finishing touches on their long-awaited and eagerly anticipated full length debut to be unleashed later this year. This may be a great opportunity to hear some new Yellow Wood material or, at the very least, hear some familiar Yellow Wood treats stripped down.

David Dubois (of The Locusts Have No King)
David is another gentleman of the local music scene, as humble as he is talented. Another of Windsor’s finest storytellers, he has seemlessly moved from one successful band to another over the years. He toiled for years in the popular rock outfit Theory of Everything until its demise a few years back and always did select solo outings, but it wasn’t until he began The Locusts Have No King that the city really took notice of his unbridled talent. Their self-titled debut features great songs that feature great stories and grandiose characters and as they currently work on material for the next album, David is currently promoting his recently released solo outing, Protected Patterns.

Ron Leary
Ron Leary is easily Windsor’s finest storyteller, hands down. It doesn’t take long for anyone to fall in love with his childlike demenour and unique voice, and once you’ve succumbed to one of his tales of heartache, you’re hooked. He’s a tireless workhorse when it comes to performing, often touring Canada with nothing but the clothes on his back and a tired guitar, and when he’s home he’s just as relentless, keeping up his chops (both musically and facial hair) with an endless stream of local shows. He’s got a weekly show with another of this night’s performers, “Mr. Chill” Kelly Hoppe, at Aardvark’s every Tuesday night and is often heard around the city several other nights throughout any given month. His 2007 release, theroadinbetween, is essential listening for any music fan in Windsor.

“Mr. Chill” Kelly Hoppe
No matter what you say about Kelly Hoppe, it never truly states the importance or impact this man has had on Windsor’s music. Although he’s more universally recognized as being part of one of Canada’s premiere rock outfits of the 1990’s in Big Sugar, he has been a tireless ambassador for Windsor and it’s musicians far longer than that. He’s been a mentor, admirer, friend and confidante for many of Windsor’s finest musicians, past and present, and he shows no signs of slowing down or giving up. A world class harmonica player and a world class individual, his latest project, Mr. Chill & The Witnesses, is a lesson in old school blues and the true meaning of roots, as displayed on the exceptional album Cold Testament.

I cannot urge you enough to check out and support this event. It is Windsor’s community helping the global community and this is your chance to be a part of that community. Times are tough right now, but no matter how CNN or CBC rants about our economic situation, it is all just a by-product of our own willingness to buy into the capitalist system. We, in essence, are all a part of this problem. The right to education and health is universal, regardless of political or economic beliefs and this is a chance to help a government that is trying desperately to give its citizens a fighting chance at something we all take for granted.

What else are you going to spend that $8 on that could mean more? A Big Mac combo? A pack of cigarettes? I doubt you will find something more meaningful.

For more info on Rafiki Kenya, please check out their website at http://www.rafikikenya.org – and become a Friend of Kenya.

For more info on being a better human being, go to the Kildare House on Friday February 27th.

To read more musical ramblings by Jamie Greer, check out his blog “Musically Speaking”.

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2 Comments

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2 responses to “Kenyan Charity Show at Kildare packed with Songwriting Heavyweights

  1. Thanks so much for the plug Stephen. We’ll see you friday!

  2. Pingback: jodi’s weblog

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