Musical pals join forces
Tunes stronger than tornadoes
After The Storm, Saturday night’s TD Place concert to raise funds for the United Way’s tornado relief efforts, was a success well before the Jim Cuddy Band hit the stage. As Mayor Jim Watson noted early in the show, thousands of dollars in advance donations had been gathered before the music started.
When Cuddy began to strum, the number was at $40,000, with more expected. Anyone who missed the show can make a donation until midnight Monday online at giveafterthestorm.ca.
The concert was intended as the 11th in a series of free shows hosted by the public-service union local CUPE 503, but when the Ottawa music industry got involved, the lineup expanded and it turned into one of the region’s most ambitious fundraising concerts ever.
It was an impressive showcase of the diversity of a vibrant music scene, with 13 performers ranging from Indigenous rapper Cody Coyote to soul singer Rebecca Noelle to franco Le Groupe Swing.
The production was wellpaced and professional, with minimal downtime between artists.
Fresh-faced Kalle Mattson, bearded Craig Cardiff and curly-haired Jeremy Fisher each performed a couple of songs on acoustic guitar, generating the warmth of a song circle around a campfire. Mattson sounded a bit like Paul Simon, while Cardiff led a feed-good singalong.
Fisher began to talk about the CDs he had available at the merch booth, but quickly pointed out he didn’t want to go home with any money — he planned to donate his sales to the cause.
Another early highlight was the back-to-back performances by Rebecca Noelle and Kellylee Evans. The talented Ottawa singers shared the same hot band featuring top-notch players such as trumpeter Ed Lister, saxman Brian Asselin and keyboardist Clayton Connell.
“Music for us is the thing that makes us feel in our most natural state,” Noelle said, “and to use it for something like this is incredible.”
In an electric-blue minidress, Evans spoke of her 2013 lightning strike and how it inspired her uplifting tune Hands Up. “I had to accept the things that were happening, because you never knew what was coming,” she said.
Ottawa’s Jim Bryson gave a terrific performance too, and joined Sarah Harmer in a heartfelt performance of her song Silver Road before Matt Mays explored the mellow end of his groove in a short acoustic set.
Orleans-raised country darling Kira Isabella showed up with Arnprior’s River Town Saints and got the crowd rocking with the Saints hit Cherry Bomb.
In an audience estimated at 5,000 were dozens of residents bused in from neighbourhoods ravaged by the Sept. 21 tornadoes.
“We are wrapping our arms around you,” Angie Poirier, one of the evening’s MCs, said when she saw them arrive. “You’re the VIPs tonight.”
Jim Cuddy headlines last night’s After the Storm concert at TD Place. Rebecca Noelle, above right, performs for an “incredible” cause, while Steve and Kristy Tozzi, and baby Sofia, below right, take in the show.