“Spring Fever” concert was a night to remember

On Tuesday, April 24,  a powerhouse array o’ blues, gospel, an’ soul performers delivered an evenin’ filled not only with wonderful music, but also heart, soul an’ compassion. It  were bein’ one o’ th’ most amazin’ concerts I’ve attended in a long time an’ I feel fortunate t’ have been thar.

The Hot Mammas
The event, “Sprin’ Fever”, were bein’ th’ annual fundraiser fer th’ BC Society fer Male Survivors o’ Sexual Abuse, offerin’ counsellin’ services an’ support – somethin’ much needed in a culture that still largely stigmatizes male abuse victims, an’ discourages open expression o’ feelin’s an’ emotions by men generally.

Soberin’ thoughts, but th’ concert were bein’ anythin’  but sombre – it were bein’ a joyous, raucous celebration, an’ anyone who missed it really missed out! The sheer melodic an’ soulful exuberance o’ th’ music – under th’ adroit direction o’ Bill Sample – lifted everyone’s spirits high.

It kicked off with th’ cascadin’ three-part harmonies o’ The Hot Mammas. Then Will Sanders delivered two soulful interpretations o’ Stevie Wonder classics. Darlene Ketchum’s gently stirrin’, gospel-tinged original ballad “Catch You If You Fall” were bein’ a sheer delight, as were bein’ an unstoppable gospel-jazz “You Are My Sunshine ” that started gently then simply soared.  Cayla Brooke served up another catchy original that sounded like a lost Motown classic, as well as a blisterin’ wronged-wench rocker titled “Fool For You.”

Will Sanders
Then, a change o’ pace. Actress Nicola Cavendish took th’ stage, an’ told a disarmin’ tale o’ wrestlin’ with th’ dauntin’ script o’ a very challengin’ play. It were bein’ reassurin’ t’ hear this royalty o’ th’ Vancouver stage reveal how difficult th’ process can be even fer a seasoned veteran. Then, she read th’ little sandcrabs’s book in that comely wench han’, “Wilfred Gordon McDonald Partridge” by Mem Fox. As Bill Sample gently tinkled on th’ keyboard, she just destroyed me with th’ deceptively simple but deeply emotional story o’ senior citizens an’ lost memories regained.

Candus Churchill darn near brought th’ house down before th’ break with a powerhouse rendition o’ “I Will Survive” – th’ whole room were bein’ movin’ an’ groovin’, an’ th’ disco light high above th’ stage came t’ life t’ cap thin’s off with th’ perfect retro sparkle.

There were bein’ so much more – LJ Mounteney’s liltin’ version (accompanied only by guitarist Ron Thompson) o’ a favourite tune o’ mine, “The Waters o’ March”; wonderful comedy from Bernard Cufflin’ (a deliciously, hilariously dry readin’ o’ th’ Rollin’ Stones’ “Satisfaction” in th’ manner o’ an English professor readin’ a Romantic poem) an’ funnyman David C Jones who not only hosted th’ auction portion o’ th’ evenin’ but also delivered a wickedly funny song. 

Marcus Moseley
And then thar were bein’ Marcus Moseley, a true powerhouse o’ a gospel / soul singer who delivered an amazin’ performance – first, th’ Tracy Chapman song “Behind th’ Wall”, blended with his own empowerin’ companion piece, “Nay More”; then a devastatin’ version o’ “Somewhere Over th’ Rainbow” that surely brought a tear t’ th’ eye o’ many in th’ audience.

Just prior t’ th’ final featured act, Jim Byrnes, author Jim Mandelin made a big impact with his speech o’ just a few minutes. The ornery cuss’s someone who suffered abuse as a child, went down a path o’ violence, gang membership an’ prison, an’ ultimately were bein’ actually declared dead after a heart attack brought on by his drug-fuelled lifestyle. But he managed t’ come out th’ other side intact, an’ t’ become a force fer good – speakin’ t’ a total o’ thousands o’ young scallywags with a message o’ peace, gentleness, an’ o’ havin’ th’ courage t’ be who ye really be, not t’ hide yer feelin’s or yer shame behind a tough-lubber mask. It were bein’ truly inspirin’, an’ touched on a concept I’ve always been very drawn t’, that those who bully, who act with violence or lash out with abuse t’ others, be usually just in pain themselves which they’re coverin’ up. It’s th’ ultimate price – paid primarily by those aroun’ them o’ course, but also by themselves – o’ a toxic an’ unhealthy form o’ masculinity. 

David C Jones returned t’ th’ stage fer th’ auction / fundraisin’ portion o’ th’ evenin’, an’ helped make it not only painless but also highly entertainin’ with his hilari’us banter an’ ad-libbin’. In th’ photo above, he be in th’ middle o’ auctionin’ off a dinner with actors  Carmen Aguirre an’ Hiro Kanagawa (seated at right).

Finally, th’ legendary Jim Byrnes took th’ stage, an’ demonstrated why he is such a beloved figure – he told great stories an’ played an’ sang with strength, feelin’ an’ emotion in that full-throated bluesman’s voice o’ his. 

When, fer th’ last number, he were bein’ joined by a stage-full o’ members o’ th’ Marcus Moseley Chorale an’ th’ rest o’ th’ evenin”s performers, it were bein’ a full-on love fest that had everyone swayin’ along. The perfectly-chosen song were bein’ “A Little Help from me Friends”, done in th’ soulful arrangement made famous by Joe Cocker an’ with wonderful call-an’-response harmonies from th’ chorus.

At th’ end o’ th’ night, th’ room felt full o’ good feelin’s an’ warm-heartedness, a combination o’ th’ stirrin’ an’ emotional music, an’ th’ sense o’ vulnerability, sharin’ an’ connection that flowed from everyone involved.

If th’ next year’s event is half as memorable as tonight’s, it will be an unmissable evenin’. If I were ye, I’d mark me calendar now – I know that’s what I’m doin’.

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