Benefit kicks off Harmony Foundation to help Lethbridge musicians


While I never feel comfortable in a crowded room, it is always a pleasure to see a good sized crowd coming out to support a good cause. Much of the local music community was out in force at the Slice, Jan. 26 to raise money for local musician and guitar teacher Murray Nelson, who had a heart attack in November.

It was also a great kick off for the Harmony Foundation, a foundation which event organizer Caroline Freeman plans to start to help other musicians who fall on hard times due to health issues.Ed Deitrich, Murray Nelson and Caroline Freeman. Photo by Richard Amery

 Probably the best thing about such an event, other than the event itself, is to see an interesting cross -section of the Lethbridge music community playing on stage together— something which rarely happens as most of them stick to playing their favourite venues and rarely visit the others.

 While I missed half the show, I arrived in time to catch Murray Nelson himself, backing up Caroline Freeman as she played and sang several of her own songs. He watched her intently for the vocals and chord changes. Ed Dietrich joined them near the end of their set to add some fiddle to the music.

Then he and Nelson played a couple finger-bleeding instrumentals by the likes of Django Reinhardt while Nelson beamed all the way through.

 Shaela Miller and Ryan Dyck were up next, playing several duets together including some new songs to appear on an upcoming Treeline/ Shaela Miller CD to be released  later this year.The Ghost performing at Murray Nelson's benefit concert. Photo by Richard Amery

Some of the highlights were one of my new favourites “Problems” plus “You Can Call Me Baby,” and several others. Miller looked shyly away at several roars from the crowd of “We love you Shaela.” She thanked everybody for coming out to support Murray Nelson.
“I’ve known him since I was too young to play in bars,” she observed.

 Caroline Freeman took over MC duties from Raz Bruce to pay tribute to George Arsene, who is in the hospital.

“He really wanted to play tonight,” she said adding that emphasized the need for forming the foundation.

 That was the introduction to “The Ghost” a last minute addition to the bill who I’d never heard before. He sported a big white cowboy hat, jeans and western shirt and donned his bass as he assembled and instant band from the crowd including Bruce on drums, Nelson on guitar and a lady on keyboards who I didn’t recognize. They played some excellent country music and a laid back version of “House of the Rising Sun,” with “the Ghost’s” bass being a big highlight.

 Driving While Blind, a hot new blues band who usually play Jimmy’s Pub and Brasseries’s Driving While Blind perform at the Murray Nelson benefit concert. Photo by Richard Amery open mic were the highlight of the show for me. I haven’t seen them for a while. They were the first band I saw who actually had dancers on the floor.
 They played an energetic set of Texas style blues like the Fabulous Thunderbirds, plus ZZ Top’s “La Grange, blues classic “Sweet Home Chicago” and a scorching version of “Going Down.”Ed Deitrich and Murray Nelson. Photo by Richard Amery

 For a complete counterpoint to that, singer-songwriter Salem Abraha took a while to set up, while setting off earsplitting waves of feedback as he hooked up a couple gadgets including a drum machine and a vocal harmonizer, before settling into a heartfelt set of tender, acoustic singer-songwriter material.

The last official act of the night was the BRO Orchestra including Bruce Roome on bass and vocals and Raz Bruce plus Murray Nelson again, who usually play the Thursday night open mic at the Trianon as well as Jimmy’s Friday night jam.

 They played a solid set of covers for the rapidly thinning crowd around 1 a.m. They opened the stage up for a massive jam after that, though I didn’t stick around for that.
It was a fitting fundraiser for Nelson and will hopefully lead to the creation of this foundation to help a lot of musicians who need help.

— By Richard Amery, L.A. Beat Editor

Last Updated ( Wednesday, 30 January 2013 16:13 )