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Music for mental health awareness concert coming to Antigonish

Peace, Love and Rock n’ Roll fundraiser, which will feature music from the late 1960s and 1970s, is set for Saturday (Oct. 27) at St. F.X.’s Immaculata Auditorium.
Peace, Love and Rock n’ Roll fundraiser, which will feature music from the late 1960s and 1970s, is set for Saturday (Oct. 27) at St. F.X.’s Immaculata Auditorium. - Corey LeBlanc

Wally Polson thinks combining two of his passions – music and mental health advocacy – can make a difference in the community.    

The Goshen native – a familiar face to morning visitors to the McDonald’s drive thru window in Antigonish – is one of the organizers of the fundraiser – Peace, Love and Rock n’ Roll.    

The show, which will feature music from the late 1960s and 1970s, is set for Saturday (Oct. 27) at St. F.X.’s Immaculata Auditorium.    

Showtime is 8 p.m.    

“We have so much great talent here,” Polson said, adding the musical celebration will benefit two great causes.    

Proceeds will go to Helping the Helpers – an annual PTSD education and awareness day based in Antigonish – and the Jordon Myles Foundation, both of which are at the forefront of mental health awareness in the region.    

“We wanted to help people in our community,” Polson added.    

To help launch the initiative, the single father or two sons took his idea to friends Michelle Cameron and Gerald Benoit.    

“In my head,” Cameron said, with a laugh, when asked about the source of the show title.    

She added it not only pays homage to the music of that era, but also ties together “peace and love, along with mental health awareness.”    

“Treat everyone with kindness – that’s what we are trying to do; raise some awareness,” Cameron said.    

Like Polson, she praised the work of both beneficiaries.    

“It is about having conversations that people, normally, don’t like to have,” Cameron said, noting the stigma that remains, when it comes to mental health.    

“Everybody suffers in some way, whether they know someone or it is their own personal struggle.”    

She added John Garth MacDonald of Helping the Helpers and Jodi Myles of the Jordon Myles Foundation will take the stage and offer some remarks before the music begins.    

“They are doing some amazing things,” Cameron said of the duo.    

Speaking of ‘amazing,’ she added the depth of musical talent that will entertain.    

“They have all donated their time,” Cameron said, noting there are 15 or more acts as part of the line-up.    

The performer list includes Clifton Pettipas, Shane Arsenault, The Bendelcam Family Band, Sadie Goering, Dylvan Sylvester, Nathan Langley, Tom Curry, Garth Wilson, Peter Lumsden, Sparrow, Whiskey Smoke Blues Band, Great Blue Heron, Phil Clarke, Parker MacIsaac, The J-Walkers, Born in Clothes and, as she described it, “maybe a couple of surprises.”    

Despite the era from which the tunes will be plucked, she said she has been approached by performers in their early 20s.    

“It is, kind of, shocking that they know the music because it is from the late 60s and 70s,” Cameron added.    

Artists honoured will range from KISS and James Taylor to Fleetwood Mac and Led Zeppelin.    

“We think everyone is going to have a lot of fun,” she said.    

As part of the 19+ event, there will be a dance floor and costume contest, with first and second-place prizes awarded.    

“We thought, because it is so close to Halloween, we would ask people to dress in their favourite 1960s and 1970s costume,” Cameron explained.    

With help from corporate sponsors R.J. MacIsaac Construction Ltd. and Highcrest Enterprises Ltd., lighting and other costs have been defrayed, meaning more monies going to the community causes.    

“I do event decorating, as well, so it is my thing to make the place look spectacular,” Cameron said, with a laugh, of her plans for the St. F.X. venue.    

She noted her husband, who was rained out for work on the day of the conversation, was crafting an eight-foot peace sign, which will serve as the backdrop for the concert stage.    

“I have been tie-dying as well – I had a tie-dying adventure yesterday,” Cameron said of putting that colourful touch on table clothes and so forth.    

There will be doors prizes, along with a 50-50 draw spearheaded by Polson, which will benefit A Dollar a Day – an initiative supported by his favourite artist, Alan Doyle of Great Big Sea fame, which supports front-line mental health and addictions programs.     

“It is a great cause,” Polson said, noting he contributes his daily dollar to the organization.    

Cameron credited her friend for bringing everyone together to help raise money and awareness.    

“We want people to have a lot of fun and raise money for two great causes in our community,” she said.    

Tickets are available at Hawthorne Convenience and at the door.    

For more information about Peace, Love and Rock n’ Roll, visit the event’s Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/events/110598936508726/

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