According to Marc Paradis, it’s starting to resemble a mini-music festival.
He should know. The Whitehorse drummer has performed at pretty much every major music function since he arrived in the Yukon 35 years ago. “We don’t have an Alsek festival any more, which used to be the highlight of early summer for a lot of Whitehorse musicians. So this is kind of shaping up to be that kind of a party.”
The event he’s talking about is a nine-hour musical extravaganza at Robert Service Campground this weekend to raise funds for his long-time friend and fellow musician, Bruce Bergman, who is facing both a triple heart bypass and a kidney transplant. “People will come together because of the cause, but mostly people are just going to have a hoot,” Paradis predicts.
The idea of holding a fundraiser for Bergman and his wife, Deb, originated with Steve Hare, who worked with Bergman at Solid Sound Productions. “He just kind of took the bull by the horns and got the venue and the tent. He’s got all the stage gear, the sound and lights and all that stuff, but he just made that happen right away, which kind of got the ball rolling,” Paradis says.
The pool of volunteer organizers expanded rapidly, says Erica Heyligers, Hare’s spouse. “We’re all pretty good friends with Bruce, and Steve couldn’t do it on his own, so he asked Marc’s son, Yves, to help. It was just natural for Yves to ask Marc, and then I stepped in, as well as Christine Paradis, Yves’ mother.”
Local performers responded immediately as soon as the organizers announced plans for a musical benefit. “We didn’t even have to put a call out. People were calling left and right,” Heyligers says. “A lot of Bruce’s friends, of course, are musicians, and many of them were aware of his kidney issues already,” Paradis adds. “The heart thing was very recent, so people jumped on board. We asked Claire Ness to co-ordinate the entertainment, and she filled it up right away. She’s been turning people away for the last little while, because there’s not enough time.”
The event has more than one special meaning for Paradis. For one thing, his introduction to the Yukon music scene was with Bergman’s band, Deep South, at the Kopper King in the summer of 1980, the year he arrived here. For another, he knows firsthand how the local music community “really chips in to support each other” when someone needs help.
In 1997, he and his family were beneficiaries of a fundraising concert after their house was destroyed in a fire that left them “basically out on the street, in a manner of speaking.”
In fact, they spent the first couple of weeks after the fire living with Bruce and Deb Bergman and their two sons, who are now also musicians. “Having people come together on your behalf and showing all this goodwill, really helps you through the tough time,” he says. “It’s not just the money. I mean, money’s good, but it really has a lot to do with moral support. You just get a real boost from it.”
At the same time, he recognizes the mixed feelings a fundraiser can evoke for the recipients. “A lot of people don’t really like to accept charity, because they kind of feel… It’s a difficult thing,” he says. “But on the other hand, people are doing it because they want to help, so you should just accept their help. That’s kind of the way you have to deal with it.”
The all-ages “Bruce’s Big Bash” event takes place Saturday, May 23 from 2 to 11 p.m. at Robert Service Campground.
It will feature a dozen diverse groups with musical styles ranging from folk and bluegrass to jazz and rock. Details are available on Erica Heyligers’ Facebook page, or on ArtsNet.
Admission is by donation, and there will also be a silent auction and a 50-50 draw.
Those unable to attend may make donations to a trust account set up in the Bergman’s name at the Bank of Montreal (transit # 09980-001, account 3977-883).
Donations may also be made via email transfer to: firstname.lastname@example.org.