By GALEN EAGLE Peterborough Examinerthechronicleherald.ca
PETERBOROUGH, Ont. – Bob Gainey is going to try something new this year. He’s going to sit down, enjoy the show and relax.
Contrast that approach to the timing of last year’s Gainey Family and Friends Concert and it’s easy to understand the change.
A week before last year’s show, the then Montreal Canadiens GM had fired his head coach and stepped behind the bench for the second time in three years.
The night before the show he watched his team, which was struggling to hold onto a playoff berth, lose a second straight game on home ice.
He made an early-morning drive from Montreal to Peterborough, Ont., to take in the show.
It was a smashing success. It featured the likes of The Sadies, Sarah Harmer, John McDermott and Murray McLauchlan.
Early the next day, however, it was back to work and back to Montreal for the late-season playoff push.
Since stepping down as GM last month, Gainey said he has been looking forward to this year’s concert on Sunday.
“I think this year is going to be a really fun and entertaining show. It will be much more relaxing. I’m really looking forward to it,” he said.
The Gainey Foundation was established three years ago in memory of Gainey’s daughter Laura, who was swept overboard from the Nova Scotia-based tall ship Picton Castle during a storm in December 2006, and wife Cathy, who died of a brain tumour in 1995 at age 39, to help young people access youth programs with a focus on arts and environment education.
What began as a vision has transformed into something concrete, Gainey noted.
“I’d say we’ve raised north of a million dollars and we have turned out into the community probably a quarter of that,” he said. “It’s nice to know that when something comes along that really fits and feels like a match for us, that we have the funds available to push it and help it along.”
In November, Gainey attended the official opening of the Camp Kawartha Environment Centre, which was fuelled by a $100,000 foundation donation.
The foundation followed that contribution by supporting the Marine Institute at Memorial University in St. John’s, Concordia University’s Department of Art Education, the Rivershed Society of British Columbia in Coquitlam, the Camps de Arts program in Montreal and the Children’s Arts Umbrella Organization in Vancouver.
Moving from the foundation’s abstract origins to seeing the funds at work has been a rewarding experience, Gainey said.
“It’s gratifying. It fills out the picture. It tells you why you are doing (this),” he said.
The annual concert has become a cornerstone of the foundation’s fundraising efforts, Gainey said.
“It has been vital. We have had really strong support from the community and strong support from local entertainers and people who have just participated in many ways,” he said.
“That has been a pillar for us, a place to begin from.”
This year’s lineup includes local band The Spades, internationally renowned tenor John McDermott, bluegrass teen sensations The Abrams Brothers, Royal Wood, Jackson Delta, the Barry Haggarty band, Sarah Edwards, Elyse Saunders, comedian and master of ceremonies Steve Patterson, 4th Line Theatre founder Rob Winslow, CBC’s The Hour host George Stroumboulopoulos, yo-yo champion Fast Eddie McDonald, country singing star Lisa Brokop and her husband singer/songwriter Paul Jefferson, Russell deCarle (vocalist/bassist with Prairie Oyster) and author and Globe and Mail columnist Roy MacGregor.
“These people are our engines and our vehicles. We really appreciate the entertainers are willing to give up a night of their time,” Gainey said.
The artists aren’t accepting a fee.
“There’s a connection there between the purpose of our foundation towards art and environment that finds a soft spot with entertainers. I think there is a good match there.”
Stroumboulopoulos, winner of eight Gemini Awards, will interview Gainey and his family on stage as part of the concert.
From the comedians to the tenors and the mixed bag of rock, country and folk musicians, it’s the concert’s variety that has made it a success, Gainey said.
One of the highlights for Gainey was a nearly eight-minute comedy routine Patterson delivered specifically for Peterborough in the first concert.
“He nailed down some of the things about Peterborough that the people in Peterborough don’t notice,” Gainey said.
In the past several years since the foundation’s beginning, the Gainey family has been able to move from mourning the losses of Cathy and Laura to celebrating their lives, Gainey said.
‘It’s nice to know that when something comes along that really fits and feels like a match for us, that we have the funds available to push it and help it along’.
Bob GaiNeyCanadiens’ great