Jason Blaine, Chad Brownlee, Tim Hicks headlining Night with the Stars
SEAN CHASE/DAILY OBSERVER The second annual Night with the Stars Fundraiser Gala will be held on Tuesday, June 16 at the Pembroke Memorial Centre. It will be followed the next day with a charity golf tournament. Headlining the gala's performances is Canadian country recording artist Jason Blaine, who is joined in this photo by the organizing committee (left to right) Marie Mask, Tami Sylvestre, Marianne Minns, Tracy McBride, Blaine, Kathy Warren, Rhodina Turner, Angela Schutt and Matt Bradley.
Jason Blaine will be taking some time off from the road and the recording studio to help out his hometown.
The awarding-winning Canadian country artist and Pembroke native will be hosting the second annual Night with the Stars Fundraiser Gala on Tuesday, June 17 at the Pembroke Memorial Centre. The show will followed the next day by the Jason Blaine Charity Golf Classic at the Pembroke Golf Club.
The gala event will include performances from rising Canadian country artists Chad Brownlee and Tim Hicks and Ottawa Valley fiddler and Johnny Reid Band member Ben Rutz. Brownlee has been nominated for a Juno, while twice receiving Canadian Country Music Association (CCMA) award nominations for Male Artist of the Year.
Debuting in 2013, Hicks had the highest selling country digital release with 200,000 downloads that year. He earned CCMA Rising Star Award in 2014 and was nominated at the Junos for Breakthrough Artist and Country Album. Blaine said he can't wait for his two friends to arrive in Pembroke.
"They are real good buddies of mine," said Blaine, who co-wrote a song on Brownlee's latest album. "I have to say a huge thanks to those guys for taking the time to come up to Pembroke. They are two of Canada's brightest, newest stars."
The house band will be Western Swing Authority, a group that has backed up Gordon Lightfoot, Michelle Wright, George Canyon and Ian Tyson. They won this year's Academy of Western Artists Best Western Swing Group.
Each year Blaine selects a different organization to support. This time around, the beneficiaries will continue to be the Algonquin College Waterfront Campus capital campaign, the Pembroke and Area Boys and Girls Club, and the Pembroke and Petawawa District Community Foundation. However, he is also adding the Pembroke Regional Hospital Foundation's MRI campaign. The hospital is endeavouring to raise $4.5 million to build the infrastructure and eventually purchase a Magnetic Resonance Imagining machine. Earlier this year, the campaign reached the $4.1 million mark.
Topping the charts in Canada and the United States, Blaine, who now resides in Nashville, has remained close to the area. The graduate of Fellowes High School and Algonquin College, who grew up as Jason McEwen, found last year's two-art fundraiser, which netted $50,000, successful enough to continue.
"We were thrilled and overwhelmed with the response last year and the excitement and the support we got from the community and the sponsors," he said.
Backing up the recording artist is an organizing committee that includes Matt Bradley, from the Pembroke/Petawawa District Community Foundation, Jamie Bramburger and Marie Mask, of Algonquin College, Tami Sylvestre and Angela Schutt, of Welsh LLP, Rhodina Turner, from the Pembroke Boys and Girls Club, Cathy Warren and Tracy McBride, of Star 96.7, and community fundraiser Marianne Minns.
"This is one of my favourite charity events," said Minns. "It's a great combination of the music and golf. It's amazing."
While many have wanted the event to become a full-blown concert, Blaine said his vision is to maintain it as a fundraising gala. He also wanted to ensure it helps as many charities as possible.
"I wanted to get involved with as many things as possible while still making a meaningful contribution to each cause," he said. "We're doing more than just raising awareness. We are doing something to create meaningful change and impact in the area."
Night with the Stars with live auction kicks off at 7 p.m. Folks will have a chance to bid on the stars as golf partners for the tournament. Tickets are limited and can be purchased at the PMC Box office until Monday at 4 p.m. The golf tournament offers a $10,000 hole-in-one and longest drive competition. The tournament proper will be a full 18 holes with a shotgun start at 12:30 p.m.
The major sponsors of the gala and tournament are Eastway Group, Robinson's Auto Centre, Murphy Ford, Best Western, Star 96.7, and Rondeau Electric.
Sean Chase is a Daily Observer multimedia journalist