Musicians rally to aid food bank



The Heartbreaker Benefit Concert

Saturday, Nov. 10, at 4:30 p.m.

St. Albert Community Centre

17 Perron St.

Tickets: $20 at door

With all its big houses, St. Albert doesn’t look like a city that needs a food bank. Yet 900 families make use of it every month and the numbers are increasing.

For rock and roll guitarist Iain Grant, the numbers were shocking. Instead of just talking, he put words into action.

He’s kick-started The Heartbreaker Benefit Concert, a charity pilot project that brings together 40 musicians to raise donations for the St. Albert Food Bank.

The Heartbreaker Benefit Concert, packed with three sets of celebrated Tom Petty’s songs, is on Saturday, Nov. 10, at St. Albert Community Centre.

The seeds for the benefit concert were planted in 2017 when Grant watched Runnin’ Down a Dream, a 2007 Peter Bogdanovich directed documentary film about Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers.

“The guy (Petty) very quietly threaded his way through our lives song after song after song. He had a very subtle, but lengthy and profoundly significant effect on our lives,” said Grant.

To say the St. Albert resident admires Petty is an understatement. And his profound respect and affection is shared among the region’s singers and songwriters.

When Grant mulled the idea of inviting musicians to donate time for a fundraiser, “I had no trouble recruiting musicians. I heard two things. I love Tom Petty, and some musicians even mentioned they’d had to use a food bank at some point in their lives. We’re all just a couple of bad breaks away from food banks.”

For St. Albert guitarist Jim Dyck, the motivator is meeting up with other musicians.

“Rather than just a bunch of separate bands such as you find in many places, we also have a vibrant jam scene which encourages musicians to get together and connect in many ways. The community of musicians here is a caring group willing to give back and share their talents for a worthwhile cause,” Dyck noted.

One of the many volunteer musicians is Lori Roworth who works in administration at St. Albert’s RCMP detachment. Another is Grant Ervine, an employee at Alberta Heath Services who immediately jumped on board to offer his services.

Other city musicians who joined the chorus include bassist Glen Harder, singer Rose Marie Legere, guitarist Kaylin Kowalyshyn and drummer Ken Kowalyshyn.

A sample of Petty songs range from Into the Great Wide Open, Free Fallin’ and You Wreck Me to I Won’t Back Down, Refugee and Learning to Fly.

Choosing songs was easy. Deciding what to eliminate was harder.

Grant explained, “Petty’s music is deceptively simple if you’re sitting around a campfire. But if you’re trying to get it as close to the recording as possible, there are levels of complexity that were very deliberate when it was put down. The songs were put down by ordinary guys who did something remarkable.”

In addition to the top-notch musical talent itching to perform Petty’s catalogue, a group of Bellerose High School students have volunteered as the road crew.

Grant adds that if this pilot project is successful, he’ll organize a second fundraising concert next year.
“But we want to try it on this scale before we ramp it up.”

Concertgoers are asked to bring non-perishable food donations. The food bank is chronically short of baby formula and baby food.

Doors open at 4 p.m.


About Author

Anna Borowiecki

Anna Borowiecki joined the St. Albert Gazette in 2000. She reports on local people and events in the arts, entertainment and food industry. She also writes general news and features.