Mu­si­cal pals join forces

Tunes stronger than tor­na­does

Ottawa Sun - - NEWS - LYNN SAXBERG

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.”

PA­TRICK DOYLE PHO­TOS

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.

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