It was Barney Bentall that started it. In his gentle way he floated the idea of putting on a benefit show to raise money for Johnny’s long term care in a facility, after realizing how close he is now to requiring it, and how expensive it can be.
He asked Geoff Kelly and me to work the idea with him, and in that mellow & modest way he has, he made the first calls that would invite the guests who now grace the bill for “Spirit of Canada :: A Benefit for John Mann”.
Our initial discussions were filled with hope for the participation of many musical luminaries, but even we didn’t expect all of our friends to say yes. But the outpouring of support was total, and humbling.
I have always felt that Vancouver is a special place, and that our musical community is more connected, more fraternal than other places. But when these stars volunteered — not only ones from home but from all across Canada, I realized that perhaps my perception had been too small.
Our national Court Jester, Ed Roberston immediately agreed to pitch in. Jim Cuddy, the very Archbishop of Canuck music agreed to come, as he always, always does. The mighty Sarah McLachlan said yes; she, the one who always leads the way in matters where the heart meets the head. Our Prince of Vancouver, Jim Byrnes, who knows everyone, has been everywhere, and shares the tales warmly with all of us. Shari Ulrich who has been a major music star since most of us were still learning fractions. Our very much beloved Odds (Craig, Dougie, Pat, Murray). A more delightful bunch of total bizarros you’ll never meet. (Hide your deli plate). Dustin Bentall, that tall drink ‘o water with the gentle charm of his Dad. Kendel Carson, an honorary Spirit since she was 15, and one of Canada’s greatest rising stars. Colin James, a fellow road warrior, who has been a friend and an inspiration since he was a teenager. Alan Doyle, a character the world gets only once in a generation, whose kindness and friendship to us has never wavered for a moment.
These artists are people of the finest calibre, they’re great colleagues, friendly competitors, voices of their generation, and good pals. We have all come up together, and in some cases watched our kids become friends, too.
Of course this event is only one of many in which each of them participates in order to support the greater good. They all understand how the world really works. One doesn’t have to think too hard to see why they have achieved such renown. They have earned it, and continue to earn it every day. What an honour it is for Spirit to be amongst them.
I look forward to seeing all of you there, and to being able to thank you all for contributing to the long term support of John & Jill. If everyone puts their shoulder into this, we will have done something that relieves pressure for a long time.
For more information please see these links:
See you there.