ArtsCan Circle Benefit Concert
at the Eccles Centre, Guelph ON
(27 March 2003)

I felt privileged to be in the audience at this benefit concert at the University of Guelph's Eccles Centre. The atmosphere was charged with the passion of the people who worked so hard to bring it together and of the performers who gave their time and their talent to entertain us and support this worthy cause.

ArtsCan Circle is an organization dedicated to linking creative artists with native youth in isolated communities in Canada. Since his first trip to the remote northern Labrador Innu community of Sheshatshui in November 2000, ArtsCan Circle founder Mike Stevens' dedication to using his talent to have a positive effect on the lives of these young people has been constant -- and he has the support of a growing number of artists across Canada. In addition to raising money for the cause (to help send performers and artists on workshop trips to several communities), benefit organizers were also accepting donations of used instruments. Local merchants donated food, instruments, and sound and video equipment for the event.

Featured on the bill were locals Richard and Diane in their first live performance, transplanted Colorado songwriter Mo' Kauffey, veteran singer songwriter Marianne Girard, bluegrass harmonica player Stevens (with Raymond McLain), urban folk duo City Folk, Toronto singer-songwriter Jory Nash, Toronto fiddle queen Anne Lindsay and Guelph's own James Gordon (Tamarack), with Sandy Horne (The Spoons) on bass and harmony vocals. It was a powerhouse of a lineup for a powerful cause.

Our emcee for the evening was Toronto singer songwriter David Newland, who also performed a special song he'd written about the inspiration of Mike Stevens' work for ArtsCan Circle.

I dare you to hear Stevens' story and not be moved to tears by it. As he said during his set, he's not trying to change the world. But he believes in his heart that bringing music to these communities will make a difference to the lives of kids who grow up without choices and who are suffering from fetal alcohol syndrome, addiction and depression. He saw, and so did we in the video he played for us, their eyes light up when he played for them. We saw them laugh and watch his every move with an intensity only kids have. And we saw them promise to practice on the instruments he left for them, so that they could play with him on his next visit. It was a truly inspirational experience.

Great music for a great cause -- what could be better than that?

- Rambles
written by Rachel Jagt
published 3 May 2003

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