Sunday, January 12, 2014

Musical Kids Liven Up AIFEC Fundraiser - Who Would Ever Imagine?

Carl Jennings, frontman for star cover band Freedom Train, had a special challenge on his hands at the Instrument For Every Child (AIFEC) fundraiser party. Unlike most Freedom Train gigs which are 19+ events for adults only, this event was all ages.

Paul G. is a Freedom Train fan from Hamilton. When he saw the "all ages" designation for the event, seized the opportunity to bring his music-loving kids to the show. They were joined by some friends who also had music-loving kids. They were all excited to be participating in raising money for the cause, and finally having the chance to let their kids see their favourite band.

Jennings didn't miss a beat. Drawing from the band's vast repertoire, and keeping the event all about the kids, he thought up some novel ways to involve them, to everyone's delight.

Twist and Shout backups. Photo: Bill Watson
Twist and Shout lent itself perfectly to a chorus of youngsters on the backup vocals. Ob-La-Di Ob-La-Da was turned into a duet with Carl sharing the microphone with a darned-good-singer-for-his-age. The young man, no stranger to the stage, had already stretched his musical wings by winning a music contest last year.

Ob-La-Di Ob-La-Da. Photo: Bill Watson

Photo: Bill Watson
Leading the Train. Photo: Bill Watson
Not to be outdone, this rhythm ace kept a rock steady beat during the 50+ person-long conga train.
Two Dads help out with some AC/DC. Photo: Bill Watson
Everyone got a kick out of calling the two dads to the microphone to help out with the AC/DC classic Highway to Hell.

Event organizer Glen Brown, publisher of Greater Hamilton Musician magazine, was pleased with the turnout and enthusiasm for the AIFEC program, which seeks to enhance primary music education programs in Hamilton's neediest neighbourhood schools by providing instruments and music lessons for kids as early as grade two.

Photo: Bill Watson
This was the first event of its kind held by  Greater Hamilton Musician magazine. Local music stores Picks and Sticks, Absolute Music, and Long and McQuade Burlington donated prizes for the raffle, along with many local musicians who contributed their CDs The Hamilton Blues Society also helped sponsor the event.

Carl Jennings, Big Johnny Blue, Ross Wooldridge, Ed Mitchell. Behind Wooldridge
is Tim Jennings on drums. Photo: Bill Watson
To keep things fresh, Jennings then took the energy up another notch. He called special guest saxophonist Ross Wooldridge to the stage. Wooldridge wowed the crowd with his exciting sax work, flowing effortlessly over the entire extended range of the instrument. The extra level of energy kept the dance floor bopping to renditions of Sir Duke, Superstition, and Prince's You Don't Have To Be Rich To Be My Girl.

Photo: Bill Watson
A final surprise was to invite John Crawford, aka Big Johnny Blue, to the stage to sing Sweet Home Chicago. Tonight's event left the hall reverberating with yet another dose of great music.

The night of entertainment and fun raised over $800 for An Instrument For Every Child. Further information and online donation portal can be found on the AIFEC website.

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