News Local

Musicians band together for Sab

By Ryan Paulsen, The Daily Observer

Like the man it was held to benefit, Friday night's Songs for Sab concert at Pembroke's Festival Hall was raucous, larger than life and overflowing with good vibes and well-wishes.

The benefit concert featured acts like the Cooper Brothers and Louis Schryer, was headlined by none other than Jason Blaine, drew a sold-out crowd of more than 600, raised somewhere in the neighbourhood of $30,000 between ticket sales and the silent auction table (which included items like guitars autographed by Tom Cochrane and Triumph and a hand-written lyric sheet and autographed CD from Blaine) and was all the brainchild of Festival Hall director Rick Wharton.

"This guy has given so much to so many people in this community, not only musically, but also all the benefits and different things that he's done, I thought it was time to give back."

Once he got Sab's blessing to go ahead with the idea, one of the biggest names on the bill was also the first to sign up for the chance to play.

"Jason Blaine called me right away. He was the first on board, and it just grew from there."

As you might expect, an event of this size takes a considerable amount of work from many dedicated volunteers.

Out of the 25 or so helpers at the concert, two stand out for Wharton.

"Sure, I came up with the concept," he says, "but if it wasn't for Brian Hebert and Dean Levoy, this show never would have happened. They were amazing."

" They were getting people musically that worked with Sab... those guys are brilliant on so many levels. They made it so easy on me."

All of that effort paid off when people started thronging through the doors to find their seats in anticipation of a great show for a great cause.

"It was amazing the amount of people who came out in support of it," says Wharton, "but also who knew that they were going to be hugely entertained. People think that when you live in Ontario, OHIP covers everything, but it doesn't. It doesn't cover parts of chemo, it doesn't cover parts of hospital stays."

"This is going to help him," he adds. "It was a once-in-a-lifetime concert, and (he's) a one-in-a-lifetime guy.

"It was a magical night. It really was."

Ryan Paulsen is a Daily Observer multimedia journalist.

Twitter: @PRyanPaulsen

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