Music giving strength to flood-impacted citizens

Music: Benefit concert raising money for High River Food Bank July 19

By: Tammy Rollie

  |  Posted: Wednesday, Jul 16, 2014 08:43 am

Calgary musician Matt Ferguson and Richard Charlton, of the Okotoks band Broken Stairs, practice for the upcoming Sounds of Strength fundraising concert at the Okotoks United Church. The benefit concert takes place at the church July 19 at 7 p.m.
Calgary musician Matt Ferguson and Richard Charlton, of the Okotoks band Broken Stairs, practice for the upcoming Sounds of Strength fundraising concert at the Okotoks United Church. The benefit concert takes place at the church July 19 at 7 p.m.
Tammy Rollie/OWW

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Local youth with a talent for music are reaching out to those in need once again.

Although its been more than a year since floodwater ravaged southern Alberta homes, businesses and landscapes, local musicians are returning to the stage to lend a hand in the Sounds of Strength benefit concert at the Okotoks United Church July 19 at 7 p.m. to raise money for the High River Food Bank. The event was first held last summer with about 200 people in attendance.

We just wanted to do something to help out, said Bailey Smith-Orton, one of the concert organizers. I know its been a year and people will be wondering why we are doing flood relief. People are still recovering and people are still putting their lives together. So many people lost everything.

Smith-Orton, a Foothills Composite School graduate who is studying music at the University of Lethbridge, said the $2,500 raised from last years concert went to the United Church benevolent fund and the Okotoks and High River food banks.

I hope people come out to help support the people still in need, she said. The High River Food Bank is still struggling to keep food on their shelves. I think they can really use the help.

The line-up of performers includes Okotoks singer/songwriter Emily Gryba who will play a combination of cover and original songs, instrumental classical and jazz group The Jazzholes, Okotoks alternative rock group Broken Stairs and Calgary classic rock and country musician Matt Ferguson.

Its people we knew from the community either from school or just from around, said Smith-Orton. We asked them to perform and they said they would love to.

Smith-Orton said the performers are all adults under the age of 26 who are lesser-known musicians, but have a talent for performing. The genres of music are varied to appeal to many musical tastes, she said.

We wanted to change it up from last year, she said. This year is going to be more geared toward everybody.

Among those performing is Okotokian Richard Charlton with the alternative rock band Broken Stairs.

Charlton said Broken Stairs performed at the Sounds of Strength benefit concert last year and is glad to be back.

We really enjoyed doing this show, he said. We got a lot of positive reception from it. We love playing this venue. Its got an intimacy to it.

Charlton said its the first time the band performed together in a year, following numerous performances in high school before they went their separate ways.

It feels good to be back together, he said. I feel weve all improved drastically since weve been to high school.

The benefit for the concert touches Charlton personally. His father, who lives in High River, suffered damage to his basement and family friends were hit hard, he said.

It was a little bit surreal, he said. You dont expect this to happen so close to home. There is still so much work and help that needs to be given.

Ferguson, who plays country, blues and rock music, is also eager to return this year.

The Calgary musician also has friends who were affected by the flood.

Ive got a couple friends in High River and one is still displaced, he said. Some places are still torn down or closed. Everyone was hit so hard by the flood.

For more information about Sounds of Strength or the performers go to www.facebook.com/soundsofstrength

Non-perishable food items will be accepted at the concert.


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