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L.A. Beat

Musicians to play in Harmony for Murray Nelson

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 A Lethbridge woman hopes to create a little Harmony in the Lethbridge music community by holding a benefit concert for one of their own and planting the seeds for a foundation to help musicians in need. The concert, featuring numerous Lethbridge musicians is Jan. 26 at the Slice.
 When popular guitar teacher/ performer Murray Nelson had a heart attack, Nov. 28, his friend Caroline Freeman decided she wanted to do something for him.

Raz Bruce will be playing the harmony benefit, Jan. 26. Photo by Richard Amery
“I’ve known Murray for many years and we reconnected after I moved back  to Lethbridge last year,” Freeman said.
  They reconnected over the Thursday night open mic at the Trianon — one of several open mics happening in the city where musicians go to connect with each other and audiences.

When he had his heart attack, she decided to help out and started thinking it would be a good idea to form a foundation, which she has tentatively dubbed the Harmony Foundation.

“ I took guitar lessons from him (Nelson),” she said adding they were supposed to collaborate on the day he had his heart attack and before he was scheduled to start lessons for the day and didn’t hear from him, which was unusual. So she eventually found out about the heart attack and learned he had been sent to Calgary, where he ended up having a double bypass.
 Then she started contacting fellow musicians and friends about playing the benefit, which she is planning to hold to raise money to replace Nelson’s lost income from teaching students guitar lessons.

“And his other job is quite physical, he works for his landlord’s  siding company,” she continued.

She said a lot of musicians are in the same boat— self -employed without any benefits or steady income unless they are part of a musicians union, in which case they have to pay dues. She noted Alberta Health provides minimal help for a person in Nelson’s situation
“So I thought let’s hold a benefit,” she said adding Nelson has been an important member of the Lethbridge music community as a teacher, performer and film maker as he has filmed a lot of local musicians.
 He was the first music teacher of Corb Lund, who soon went on to success as a member of Edmonton based alternative rock band the Smalls and is now a rising country star. He also taught Keri McTighe (Latimer), who went on to success with Winnipeg based folk quartet Nathan.

“ He also helped start the Lethbridge Busker’s Association,” she continued.
She said Nelson himself didn’t want a benefit concert, however Freeman insisted.
“He’s okay now. He’s back in town now and communicating with people. He’s already lost six weeks worth of income. But he’s very humble. I told him he’s done so much for the Lethbridge music community,” she said.

“When Corb Lund came to him in 1985, he wanted to play like Yngwie Malmsteen (A popular ’80s classical inspired guitar virtuoso), Murray told him you can only play rock and roll for so long, eventually you’ll have to play country,” she laughed.

“ He also helped found the Lethbridge Busker‘s Association. In fact the city was originally wanted to push buskers out of downtown. Now the BRZ gives them $2,000 a year,” she said.
 The first people she talked to about performing were drummer Raz Bruce and Bruce Roome who often play with Nelson at open mics at the Trianon as well as Jimmy’s Pub and Brasserie’s Friday night open mic.

“Raz jumped on board right away,” she said.
“Murray and I go back to the original Tongue N’ Groove,” said Raz Bruce, who will be drumming with two of the groups on stage.

“We used to live there. We’ve done an awful lot of gigs together,” he continued adding they lost touch after Bruce got married. But they also reconnected in the open mic scene.

He supported the idea of the foundation.
“It’s a really good idea,” he said.

Freeman noted Nelson  is “a bit eccentric,” but a lot of musicians volunteered to perform at the benefit.

“Response was amazing,” she said.

  The musicians scheduled to play 15 minute sets include blues band Driving While Blind, who often play at Jimmy’s, as well as Shaela Miller, Brian Shockey aka Boulder, Dooley, the Dirti Speshuls, bluesman Darryl Düus, George Arsene, Salem Abraha, Virgil Skye and Mark Nelson.

The other goal of the concert is to gauge interest about forming a charitable foundation for other Lethbridge musicians  who need a little help due to injury or illness.

“I’m pretty ferocious. When I get a bone in my teeth, I worry it to death,” she said.
There will also be a silent auction including a variety of items including spa visits from Bad Apple, an acoustic guitar from Long and McQuade which all of the performers will sign.
The show runs from 7:30 p.m. to 1:30 a.m., Jan. 26 at the Slice. Admission is a minimum of five dollars.

 A  version of this story appears in the Jan. 23, 2013 edition of the Lethbridge Sun Times

— By Richard Amery, L.A. Beat Editor

Last Updated ( Wednesday, 23 January 2013 11:29 )  
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