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SAIT bar to host Japanese relief benefit PDF Print E-mail
Written by JENNI O'NYONS   
Thursday, 28 April 2011 10:25

Goodwill, art and music to come together at The Gateway

Members of the Calgary arts community and SAIT students will gather at The Gateway on April 30 to raise money for the Japanese relief effort.

The event will include a silent auction, dancers, and performances from several local bands including Matt Blais, Hunger Hush and Lindsay Ell. Tickets are $10 at the door and all proceeds will go to relief for the recent disasters in Japan via the Canadian Red Cross.

Natalka Lewis and Sydney Konno say they decided to organize the event shortly after hearing news of the disaster.

Local artist Matt Blais has played benefit shows in support of Tibet, multiple sclerosis and breast cancer. He says he looks forward to play a show for Japanese relief.
Photo courtesy of Matt Blais

Konno says, “I told Natalka I wished there was something we could do to help and she said, 'Why can’t we?'”

Konno, a SAIT student, says she felt particularly touched by news of the tsunami as some Japanese exchange students stayed with her and her family when she was in high school.

Though some of the students she has contacted since the disaster haven’t gotten back to her, the ones that did, said that their towns suffered only minimal damage.

Konno says she expects a big turnout as the event has received support from the Calgary Japanese Community Association.

Local indie artist Matt Blais and his band agreed to play the show because he says, “It’s a no-lose situation; people will be there for the same reason: for the cause and to have a good time.”

Having played at The Gateway before, Blais describes the general atmosphere as “awesome, one of the best venues for live music. It depends on the band but people go to dance, drink and party.”

He says he enjoys playing in his hometown, “There is a good community in the Calgary music scene and the audience just likes to have a few beers, enjoy the music and interact with bands.”

Blais says he expects a diverse crowd because of the varied performers on the bill. He says he has heard the mostly-rock show will include singer-song-writers, rock-pop as well as some traditional Japanese-style music.

Alastair Pollock, keyboardist for local indie band Hunger Hush, says he looks forward to playing with Blais again. He says he also anticipates a diverse crowd many of whom will be drawn in by local artist Lindsay Ell, due to her shift from blues to a more pop-country sound.

Despite the band’s name and their participation in the benefit, Pollock maintains Hunger Hush is not an explicitly social-justice band.

He explains, “If a band sounds hungry, to me it's like they haven’t made it and can’t just rest on their laurels. They still have to impress people and they’re still hungry to do their best work. “

Event co-organizer Lewis says the Japanese tragedy hit home for her because her ex-boyfriend has family in Japan. She says, luckily, they were not affected.

As a professional dancer and prominent member of the art community, Lewis says she has friends in both bands and theatre that she relied on to help with the event. She says organizing the event was important to her “not only to raise funds but also bring the Calgary arts community together.”