I have often heard that Music is the best medicine and I believe that much of that is true. Music can lift your spirits when your feeling down, it can pump you up when you need inspiration, it can calm you down when you are stressed out and it can bring people together in times of need. It is that last point that I am writing about this morning.
Most of you probably don’t know local rock promoters, Leigh Wilson-Iafanatsie and her husband Art but the readers at the Decibel Geek website have them to thank for many of the reviews and interviews that have been published right here.
I was first “officially” introduced to Leigh and Art at the Rockpile Nightclub here in Toronto when I was on assignment to interview Brighton Rock. When I arrived, I was welcomed with a friendly handshake and was presented with handmade “press” tour laminates that Leigh had prepared for Rich (the Meister) and myself. Art and Leigh made us feel completely welcome and comfortable, insuring we had everything we needed and beyond that they took genuine interest into our lives and families. It’s not often that you meet such warm and friendly people today.
When Honeymoon Suite came through town, Art and Leigh insisted that time be granted for at least one press interview, informing the Decibel Geek that it was to be ours and ours alone. That was awesome, and when I informed them that I was involved with the League of Rock and was having a great time in my own band, they immediately offered my band “opening” slots for shows they were working. It didn’t matter that they hadn’t even heard a note, I was “family” and if we wanted to play they were willing to make it happen.
Leigh was recently diagnosed with breast cancer and is currently undergoing weekly treatment for this disease. As if that weren’t enough, it was also learned that she is also dealing with cervical cancer as well. As it turns out Canada’s (wonderful?) health care system only covers about 70% of the treatment and medical costs, leaving a heavy financial burden on this family.
In the very short time I have known this couple, I have witnessed many occasions their tireless efforts to help others. Fundraising for many different charities, causes and friends in need, Art and Leigh are often the first to arrive and the last to leave. In short, they are just good people. So when I heard that Art and close friend Monique Richardson were planning a “2 Day Weekend of ROCK – Halloween Party!” in benefit for Leigh, I knew exactly where I would be, it was time to give something back for this amazing lady.
|Yes it’s me|
So on Friday night, I headed out to “Legends on the Queensway” wearing my platform boots, some leather and a little makeup (Halloween Party, remember?) for the first night of the festivities. The lineup of bands that donated their time for this party is a true testament to Leigh and her family. There were so many bands that wanted to be involved that the Friday night had to be split using both the upstairs and downstairs of the club! I can only imagine the hours it took to pull this event together, Monique and Art pulled out all the stops and in my opinion they pulled off one hell of a rock and roll party for those lucky enough to be in attendance. It was a whirlwind of activity and with bands playing simultaneously I was unable to catch every detail but will do my best to cover some of the many highlights of the weekend. My apologies to the bands I missed.
FRIDAY OCTOBER 25th,
The night got under way with an acoustic performance from Daniela Cas. Mixing her original songs with a few of her favorite cover songs, she did a fine job in getting the party started and warming up the crowd for what would soon be a much louder and scarier evening ahead.
I am not sure quite how to explain what happened next, for those that were there you know of what I speak. The next band to take the stage was “Arteste” and mere words can not describe what my ears bore witness to. Arteste delivered a blistering set that encompassed their entire 11 song CD in it’s entirety. The sonic blast of this new hardcore metal band lasted an entire 13 minutes or so. Yes, you did read that correctly, this band ran through 11 songs in just over 13 minutes! Comprised of Mark Macpherson on drums, Steve Macpherson on guitar, Steve Maclaren on bass and the riveting vocal styling of one ART WILSON-IAFANTASIE, the performance shook the foundations and had patrons quoted as saying “what was that?!?” This performance will go down in the annals (or is that anals) of rock history. For those that missed it, maybe a world tour will follow once we get Leigh back into fighting shape as Art is truly a rock star personified. (note, I tried my best to keep a straight face while writing that paragraph)
I spent the next few minutes bouncing upstairs and downstairs catching part sets by “Shotgun Nun” and “OzGoode” both bands played great and I wished I could have been present completely for both bands. “Skrou” was up next and they blasted through a great set of mostly 80’s melodic metal tunes from the likes of Whitesnake, Ratt and the Scorpions. I have witnessed this band play a couple times now and they always entertain playing some great party rock.
|“My Favorurite Headache”|
The last band I was able to catch was Rush tribute band “My Favourite Headache”, a band I have often heard about but for some reason have never caught live. WOW! is my review of their set. Covering Rush is no easy feat, covering them well is even
scarier but these guys have studied hard as each song came off ever so close to the Canadian Gods we know and love. Red Barchetta, Tom Sawyer, Closer to the Heart, the Trees and Workingman were among some of the Rush classics that MFH entertained the crowd with.
That was it for me, with only one more band to go, Gene Simmons had to leave to rest his poor aching feet. Walking around in platform boots that are a size too small is tough on any music reporter.
SATURDAY OCTOBER 26th
Upon arrival, I offered my assistance and worked the night at one of the fundraising games that was set up. This was perfect as I had a great view of the bands and was able to help out as well. Saturday’s bands were all on the one floor so I was able to kick back and enjoy each bands set entirely and entertained I was…
The first band going on after I arrived was “Gladheart”, they played some great guitar driven originals filled with some great hooks. Definitely a band I will check out again soon.
|“Screamin’ Evil Blues Band”|
Next up were “Screamin Evil Blues Band” who blew me away playing some 4 on the floor straight ahead blues rock with attitude. I love to see a band who enjoy themselves onstage and interact with the crowd and this they did with style. George Thorogood’s You Talk Too Much never sounded more authentic, these guys were just plain FUN!
“OhMG” played a fun set of cover tunes playing everything from Bon Jovi, Led Zeppelin, Alanis Morissette and an amazing version of the Who’s “Baba O’Reilly” with the keyboard intro converted into a killer six string guitar intro. Great songs and the Rocky Horror’s “Time Warp” was a blast.
It was around this point of the evening a couple approached the table asking me some questions about the fundraising raffles and how everything worked. As I explained the different prizes and ways to win, they asked me how I was affiliated and how I knew Leigh and Art? I told them and I asked the same to them. I was quite taken aback when they told me, they didn’t know Leigh at all but had stumbled across the information online and decided to spend their night out at the fundraiser instead of giving their money to just some bar. I apologize that I have forgotten their names but they pulled up some chairs, sat down and enjoyed the rest of the music. Very cool indeed.
Hamilton band “Tommy Gunn” hit the stage for an original set. Lead singer Tommy introduced the set saying “we are Tommy Gunn and I hope you like our sound” Like it I did! Being a former Hamiltonian myself, I immediately recognized a certain “sound”. Teenage Head have it, the Forgotten Rebels have it and Tommy Gunn has it too, sort of a streetwise, steeltown toughness that bleeds into the music. “The Hamilton Hounds” and “Go Go Go” were my personal favourites from the set. Oskee Wee Wee boys!
|Monique and “Limitless”|
Closing out the night, was “Limitless” featuring lead vocalist Monique Richardson. as if she didn’t have enough with the planning, organizing and emceeing the event, she also got to rock the stage herself with her amazing cover band. High energy rock and roll featuring Zeppelin, Judas Priest, Neil Young and Sabbath it was a great way to wrap up an amazing 2 days of rock n roll. As Monique belted out Zeppelin’s “Whole lotta Love”, I laughed as the woman sitting beside me exclaimed “Holy shit-balls that chick can sing!”
It was an amazing party to be a part of, thank you for the invite. Thanks to all of the bands that took the time to come out and entertain. Thanks to all the volunteers that helped make things run smoothly all weekend. Thanks to Legends on the Queensway for the hospitality and to all those that donated the great prizes. Great music, great friends and a great cause, it was an amazing weekend. Lastly to Leigh, your rock n roll family has spoken, now get yourself better so we can keep on rocking.