Light of Day Canada 2021.
Parkinson’s disease is a degenerative disorder of the central nervous system that affects between one-and-a-half million and two million. The incidence of PD is often underestimated because it is not contagious and does not have to be reported by physicians. PD may appear at any age, but it is uncommon in people younger than 40, and the risk of developing it increases with age. It occurs in all parts of the world, and men are affected slightly more often than women.
The Light of Day Foundation, Inc. utilizes the power of music to raise money and awareness in its continuing battle to defeat Parkinson’s disease and its related illnesses ALS (Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis) and PSP (Progressive Supranuclear Palsy) within our lifetime.
The concerts and the organization began as a birthday party in November 1998 at the Downtown Cafe in Red Bank, NJ to celebrate the 40th birthday of artist manager and music industry veteran Bob Benjamin. Benjamin had recently been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, a degenerative disorder of the central nervous system, and in lieu of gifts, asked that donations be made to the Parkinson’s Disease Foundation. Over $2,000 was raised that night. Spurred by the generosity and support, Benjamin reached out to friends, including concert promoter Tony Pallagrosi and musician Joe D’Urso, and formed the Light of Day charity, taking its name from a Bruce Springsteen song.
Over the years Light of Day has grown from a one-day event into a festival spanning 10 days in the New Jersey/New York metropolitan area. More significantly, Light of Day has expanded into an internationally recognized tour, through a true grassroots effort of musicians, music fans, and benefactors. Light of Day shows takes place around the world on 3 continents, an 18 day late November into December trek through Europe, with stops in England, Wales, Ireland, Sweden, Belgium, Norway, Denmark, Italy, Switzerland, Germany, Spain, plus a brand new Light of Day event in Australia! Proceeds from each show are donated to a local Parkinson’s organization. This expansion has taken root in Canada since 2007, they have hosted 12 concerts, and since their inception, Light of Day Canada has expanded from Niagara Falls and Toronto to Light of Day Hamilton in 2011, Light of Day Halifax in 2012, Light of Day Kingston in 2013, and London in 2016. Through the years our concerts have raised over $500,000 for Parkinson’s Research and Care distributing all of our profits to Parkinson’s Canada, Light of Day Foundation (New Jersey), and most recently to the London Health Sciences Movement Disorder Centre, Queen’s University Neuroscience Studies in Kingston, the Steve Ludzik Parkinson’s Rehab Clinic at Hotel Dieu Shaver Hospital in St. Catharines ON, and now the Walker Cancer Clinic in support of the Niagara Health Foundation.
I was thrilled to purchase my 2-day $40 concert ticket to this outstanding fundraiser, congrats on a job well done!!! Dave Rotella, got us revved and ready to rock the night away with the impressive 1st-time virtual concert they hosted, and the lineup was mind-numbing.
Night 1’s Title Sponsor was Edward J Freeland Foundation that has been there since day 1 and Dave thanked Jim Davie and his crew for being so generous. As well, he thanked the LOD Show Sponsors- DANIMA Creative Group, Jack Custors and Your TV Cogeco Niagara, co-host and VP of LOD Sam Grosso at his Prince Edward County Vintage Car Wine Tours, and Greg Campbell and Rock Paper Merch http://www.rockpapermerch.com/collections/lightofday Thanks went out to committee member and sponsor Charles Harrison for setting up the LOD Canada’s first online auction https://app.galabid.com/LODCANADA2021AUCTION https://www.danima.com/ https://www.yourtv.tv/niagara http://www.vintagecarwinetours.com
Dave mentioned for those that wish to donate they can go to http://www.lightofdaycanada.com/donate and you can donate directly to the cause, and there is a drop-down menu where you can choose where your money goes, like the Gordon Downie Brain Cancer Research Fund.
He encouraged viewers that are new to Light of Day Canada to visit both their site and their parent company site http://www.lightofday.org and learn all about Bob Benjamin’s dream and how this organization got started. “We are all here because of Bob Benjamin and the people at Light of Day at Asbury Park where we give our money to Parkinson’s organizations throughout the year and we have raised half a million dollars, where Light of Day in Asbury raises that per year and we’ve raised that in our time,” shared Rotella. He further shared the Partners in the Fight and where they are providing their monies to over the years like Steve Ludzik Foundation for Parkinson’s care, Walker Family Cancer Centre-Niagara Health Foundation, and as well to their parent company, Light of Day.org “Light of Day, they just hosted their annual 3 day Winter festival, virtually from Feb 12-14th, and they sent out thanks and kudos to Joe D’Urso, Tony Paligrossi, to Gene, Ron, Cheryl, Rob, Di, JR, and to all the people down there for the amazing work you do. Also, thank you personally for being mentors to us, and teaching us the ropes,” shared Dave Rotella.
“None of this happens, without a lot of help and a lot of hard work. I tend to get a lot of the accolades, as you will hear my name a lot and I appreciate the thanks but, there’s a ton of people over the years and especially this year, that really helped out. I want to mention our LOD Canda committee, a great group of people. Laurie Bodnar-Finney, Chris Green, Sam Grosso, Charles Harrison, Tim Housser, Lisa MacIntosh, and Sue Obee, I want to thank them for all for their hard work. They are actually working right now, working on the auction, working on the merch, and they are also doing support. They have been an amazing group to work with, probably the best committee we’ve ever had,” says Dave Rotella
Covid-19 has put a damper on most concert halls, theatres, live bars, musicians, and tours globally since March 2020. Light of Day Canada’s Festival was to take place at the Meridian Centre in St Catharines in November, however, due to the pandemic limitations, the show was set aside, but the show must go on, and that it did. February 19th and 20th, 2021, marked their 12th season for Light of Day Canada’s fundraising event for Parkinson’s.
Niagara Falls is the home base of Light of Day Canada and it was fitting to see Niagara Falls Mayor Jim Diodati, kick the night off as he introduced the 1st performance, nonother than Pittsburg PA’s Eddie ‘King Fish’ Manion (South Side Johnny, Bruce Springsteen, Little Steven and recently with the Disciples of Soul) who performed from The Vault Recording Studio. https://thevaultrecording.com with the assistance of its owner Bob McCutcheon and 6-time Grammy-winning Chief Engineer Jimmy Hoyson, which featured his https://www.littlesteven.com/disciples-of-soul Disciple Soul brothers Mark Ribler as Music Director on guitar, Jack Daley on bass, Yamaha artist Rich Mercurio on drums, Andy Burton on organ, and Rob Paparozzi on the harp. They perfected a soothing cover version of He Aint Heavy written in 1969 by Bobby Scott, and Bob Russell, and made famous by The Hollies that Eddie just recorded on his new album coming soon. He dedicated this performance to Bob Benjamin, “this one’s for you Bob, Happy Birthday,” shares Eddie Manion.” https://www.eddiemanion.com https://www.yamaha.com/artists/richmercurio.html
Jakeb Daniel from Cobourg Ontario brought his latest single Lord Have Mercy. https://m.facebook.com/Jakeb-Daniel-275148589321425/?ref=page_internal&mt_nav=0
Strumberry Pie from Jersey Shore shared their 2 originals with Back Seat Lullaby and Pointed Guns. https://www.strumberrypie.com/
Chris Green from Walker Family Cancer Centre and Niagara Health Foundation spoke about how important this building is in Niagara that was built in 2013. It sees 75,000 visits a year. 8,000 patients were treated in the last year with 65,000 chemo treatments were performed since 2013 as well as 90,000 radiation treatments. When the doors first opened it seen 26 treatments and in 1 year it increased up to 3,600 patients, all funded by donors’ support as the government doesn’t fund all equipment, and Cancer doesn’t go into lockdown even during a pandemic. https://www.niagarahealth.on.ca/site/cancer-care-oncology
4th artist was Anthony Abbruscato from St Catharines and he shared his original Cross Road. http://www.anthonyabbruscato.com/
Teenage Head’s Dave Rave, thrilled us with his 2nd Responders featuring Jack Syperek (The Trews) on bass with Claude Desroches (The Shakers) on drums, Mark Foley on guitar, and Drew Joseph Sisera on blues harp, as they perfected Dave’s new hit, Eye To Eye. https://www.facebook.com/daveravemusic/
Internationally acclaimed artists, The Partland Brothers, sure knew how to warm up February! My dear friend and co-founding member, Chris Partland, has been diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease and I couldn’t be more proud of him for his determination, and dedication to his outstanding craft. This performance was 1 of their most endearing and passionate to date, Job well-done guys! Standing ovation in my house tonight for the ever-engaging, award-winning, and iconic Canadian gems The Partland Brothers, thoroughly engaged us with an up-close, and personal, extended acoustic rendition of their stellar #1 hit, Soul City. https://www.facebook.com/ThePartlandBrothers
The trio, Milly followed which featured Seth Miberger, Johnny Brushecky, and Paul Menotiades as they shared their talents.
Chris Keeter of The Glorious Sons, wore his heart on his sleeve as he enchanted us on the piano, delivering an intimate solo rendition of their hit, Any Day Now. https://www.theglorioussons.com/
Hosts, President Dave Rotella, and Vice President Sam Grosso, presented the 2 Memorials, celebrating those that lost their lives during the last 2 years since their last LOD Canada show. The following were celebrated: Kelley Looney of Steve Earle and the Dukes 1969-2019; Grant O’Bee 1950-2019; Joseph Anthony D’Urso 1932-2019; Charles Gochnour 1931-2021; Catharine Hunter 1936-2019; Frank Spadafore 1965-2021; and Dave Rotella Sr. 1945-2018.
Jake Mathison of Minnesota was up next as he shared his Remember When. https://www.facebook.com/jake.mathison
The pride of Rhode Island, John Cafferty, and founding guitarist Gary Gramolini, both of Beaver Brown Band, rocked, Nobody But Me. http://www.johncafferty.com
Taylor Davis played from his home in Miami with his hit White Land Prison.
Light of Day supporter, Cory Cruise, brought a new song untitled and asked the fans to title it, a GENIUS way to interact with his fans!! http://www.corycruise.ca/
The Mandivilles duo nailed their new song Lightning from their upcoming album. https://www.heymandevilles.com
Maureen Thom, the manager of The Steve Ludzik Foundation, visited and thanked LOD Canada, where proceeds go straight to this foundation, which was created after Steve Ludzik. He was diagnosed with Parkinson’s in 2013, and he opened a 1 of a kind multidisciplinary Parkinson’s clinic in St. Catharines. It features the services of Occupational Therapy, Physiotherapy, Speech Therapy, and helps persons and families living with Parkinson’s for free as a non-profit. FYI, 500 persons have come through the clinic since its conception. http://steveludzikfoundation.com
The 13th performance was from the amazing gifted 16-year-old artist, Jake Thistle, from New Jersey. He shared an original called Down the Line, which is the title track from his album that was released in December of 2020. FYI, Jake has raised over $100,000 for charities through his music. https://jakethistle.com
A long-time supporter of LOD Canada, the legendary, Toronto soul-rock guy, Peter Elkas, featured highly sought-after drummer, the stupendous Dani Nash, and incuded Peter Elka’s band, as they grooved us with his song Streets of Fire from Darkness On The Edge Of Town album. https://www.facebook.com/peterelkas/ https://daninashmusic.bandcamp.com
Frankie Pietrangelo from Niagara Falls act The Madhatters http://madhattersband.ca performed an acoustic solo and dedicated his original song, The Road, which was a good choice for all musicians who are missing live shows.
The 16th performance was from Libertyville, Illinois, with Mr. Ike Reilly of Ike Reily and the Assassination and he brought his song Ashes to Ashes. https://www.facebook.com/groups/2221594023
All the way from Quebec, the 17th showcase was represented by breath-taking Jake Clemons, who perfected on piano, his title song from his same-titled 2013 album, Embracing Light. http://jakeclemons.com
Next up, was Evan Rotella, who delivered his original piano piece Got To Get Better. http://evanrotella.com
Bob Mahony and the 7th Son did a few songs and one was entitled, Shot in the Dark, I adore pop punky rock n roll and this delivered a blend of tasty flavours, totally satisfying my hunger for this genre!! https://www.bobbymahoneymusic.com Totally was one of the highlights for me, energized, WOW!!!!
20th performance was with Danny Gochnour as he shared his acoustic craft. http://www.dannygochnour.com
Jason Heath and The Greedy Souls engaged the 21st spot on the show, giving us several acoustic songs. Also, this included their official electric premiere release video of Children, Chains, and Razor Wire. https://jasonheathandthegreedysouls.com/
Wayne Kramer shared a mind-blowing addictive appearance. Another artist I adored back in the day. He was the leader of the revolutionary proto-punk band MC5, and was a notable activist for racial and economic equality, now an author of his eye-opening memoir, “The Hard Stuff,” http://spokeo.com/wayne kramer
Tom Morello, mesmerized, holy shit, I was speechless as they became 1 with their audience during their hypnotic track, Vigilante Nocturno. https://tommorello.com
“It’s my privilege to bring on our next guest, before I do, I want to thank our next guest. I want to thank him for being an amazing mentor. Sammy had some nice things to say earlier about myself but I feel this way about Joe D’Urso. Joe D’Urso is probably the hardest-working man in music. The number of charities he supports, he works more than anybody I know, and he has a nice family. I don’t know where he finds time to do it all, being the hardest working man in show business, Mr. Light of Day, the guy who shows us the ropes and continues to show us the ropes. Ladies and gentlemen, here he is, joe D’Urso,” shared Dave Rotella.
Joe D’Urso is a founding member of the inaugural Light of Day 21 years ago down in Asbury and he is a fantastic singer-songwriter with a huge heart. He shared his NEW original Gotta Row, http://www.JDCaravan.com/ Joe said, “I dedicate this next one to Bob Benjamin. We are all not here without Bob’s determination 21 years ago, which has turned into over 6 million dollars raised for Parkinson’s Disease, PSP, and ALS research…. ….this is for you Bob, it’s called Hold On.” Joe closed out Night 1 as he projected his acoustic rendition of Bruce Springsteen’s Light of Day.
Sponsors for Night 2 consisted of Title Sponsor Ted Harrison Foundation, in memory of Charles’s dad Ted who passed away of Parkinson’s. Thank you, Charles Harrison, for supporting both Asbury and Canada’s LOD. Show Sponsors were DANIMA Creative Group, Prince Edward County Vintage Car Wine Tours with Sam Grosso, Your TV Cogeco Niagara and Rock Paper Merch. https://tedharrison.ca/pages/foundation
“It takes a village, all of these shows takes a group effort, I said last night, I tend to get accolades for the shows because, for some reason, it’s my face you gotta see. But there are so many people behind the scenes that do such amazing work. This year is no different than all the other years. We got a great committee, some of you were talking to our support team yesterday as they were working hard on support, tweeting this out, social media, working the auction, and working on the merch. It’s amazing all the things they are doing and I am just sitting here talking to you guys and watching the show. I want to thank our committee, Laurie Bodnan Finney, Chris Green, Sam Grosso, Charles Harrison, Tim Houssen, Lisa MacIntosh, and Sue O’Bee. I want to thank them for all they’ve done. It’s been a fun ride,” says Dave Rotella.
Kicking night 2 into high gear was non-other than Canada’s comedic legend, the iconic one and only, Ron James. http://www.ronjames.ca
Dillion Schindler delivered his song Dancing. https://www.facebook.com/dillonschindlermusic/ and following was Kent Nicholson as he shared his magic.
The iconic Colin MacDonald from The Trews, captivated with his original from their 4th album, Hope and Ruin, with a new hit If you Want to Start Again. He dedicated it to everybody who is learning to start all over, pretty much every day, since March 2020. http://www.thetrewsmusic.com/
Ryan Lunn projected live from the Session on the River in Fort Erie as he nailed the new song he just wrote during the pandemic called, Heart of Darkness. He was accompanied by Chris Currie on hand drum with Anthony Nicolletta on keyboards. https://ryanlunn.com/
Jared Clemons was up next as he projected his original song, Redwood Parkway, from his band Jared Clemons and The Late Night Band. https://www.facebook.com/LittleBigManJarodClemons
2 performance shots of Stephen Stanley below by Deb Draper
The iconic singer and songwriter, who I call my philosopher king, Stephen Stanley, is best known for his many years as a founding member, lead guitarist, and vocalist with the vibrant alternative rock band The Lowest of the Low, and currently he’s delivering his magic inside The Stephen Stanley Band, who have an internationally acclaimed record, Jimmy & The Moon (2017). Stephen’s songs resonate deep in me, a kind of cerebral process, as his infectious melodies seep into your brain. This performance was one of his most intriguing and compelling expressions to date. His songs The Owl and Under The Minah Bird are richly embroidered with complexity and tranquility, his songwriting is totally captivating as he truly bares his soul in his art, thus making for 1 introspective delight. As well, don’t forget to check out his stellar Hunter’s Bay Radio show, Monday’s 2 pm and Friday’s at 12 am entitled Northern Wish https://muskokaradio.com/show/northernwishwithstephenstanley and stay in tune with Stephen by visiting https://stephenstanleyband.com/
Willie Nile, now that name truly revved my senses, seen him live before, and this was a real treat tonight!! He showcased 2 of his highly infectious and energetic expressions alongside his full band on songs like Run Free from his New York at Night album and he released his new music video for this piece ‘Run Free as well, and (video is a live performance of the track, filmed at The Bowery Electric). “I am a believer, I believe in music. It transforms! There is salvation in it, there’s redemption in all kinds of music. Rock n Roll, classical, soul, R & B, street, I believe in it. 2 things words can’t always do, this is a song about 1 guitar and 1 voice and what it can do to make it a better world, this song is called 1 Guitar,” shares Willie. http://willienile.com
Beautifully gifted Johnny Pisano and Jimmy Bones shared an original called Tell Her.
Mike Rocket Wurtele shared his Dreaming of a Better World. https://mikerocket.com/
Marty Allen, (Marty Allen Band) from St Catharines, delivered his song Shudder, on his acoustic guitar and his ‘Mississippi Saxaphone’ aka harmonica. http://www.martyallenband.com/
Jack Sundrud is a respected Nashville songwriter, singer, bassist, instrumentalist who recently marked over 30 years since he began touring and recording with venerable country-rock band, Poco. He shared that he was recently diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease and then he perfected an intriguing acoustic version of his huge hit, Find Me When the Night Comes. https://jacksundrud.com
New York icon, Jesse Malin, expressed his delectable song Turn Up the Mains. https://www.jessemalin.com/
Mike Plum brought us his hit My Old Friend. https://www.mikeplume.com
Princess of Prince Edward County and the Queen of Kingston, Miss Emily, delighted us with a few originals like Land of Greed and another dedicated to Frankie. https://themissemily.com
Another tremendous treat for me was to see Rusty Young engage us with a few of his famous original songs that have appeared in the world’s most famous movie soundtracks. The 1st song he engaged us with was from Cameron Crowe’s 1982 Fast Times at Ridgemont High soundtrack with his iconic classic I’ll Leave It Up To You, and another hit was his signature Poco tune, Crazy Love. https://rustyyoungmusic.com
Vinnie Pastore from the Sopranos popped on to cheer everyone that bought tickets and to thank Light of Day Canada for doing such a wonderful job. He shared that he’s been apart of LOD for 20 years now as his mom, Natalia, passed away from PD.
Carolyn Cebrynski alongside Susan O’Malley and Doug Brown performed a cover version of Incubus’s Drive. https://www.facebook.com/carolyn.cebrynski
Don Schmid visited and shared The Northern Pikes full band sound of their live hit Forest of Love. https://thenorthernpikes.com
Platinum-selling 2-time Juno, and 3-time SOCAN award-winning, hometown Scarborough Walk of Fame recipient, Lawrence Gowan, was accompanied on drums by his son Dylon upon the 1st ever online 12th Light of Day Canada’s Parkinson’s fundraiser 2021. Gowan took us on a trip down memory lane from his 1993 album, Larry Gowan…But You Can Call Me Larry, as he performed his hit Souls Road, which was followed up with his 1987 hit Forever 1, from his Great Dirty World album. https://ca.gowanco.com
Rick Rose Band did their original that was written for Doc Walker called Dreaming Out Loud. https://www.facebook.com/rick.rose.543
Ron LaSalle performed his song Act Our Age. https://ronlasalle.net
American rock, country, folk singer-songwriter, record producer, author, actor, 3-time Grammy-winning Emmy nominated icon Steve Earle, did 2 up close and emotionally brilliant pieces with Goodbye and Harlem River Blues from City Winery in New York City. http://www.steveearle.com/
Pittsburgh Music Hall of Famer Joe Grushecky & The Houserockers (that has played with the likes of Bruce Springsteen, WIllie Nile, John Cafferty, Southside Johnny and so many more), really projected but I missed the title of the delicious hard guitar soaked masterpiece. https://www.joegrushecky.com
Joe D’Urso closed the show once again with 3 songs featuring an acoustic John Prine cover of Chestnut, followed by 1 of Joe’s originals called Ground Hog Day, and a Bruce Springsteen’s hit, Light of Day, and this song he sent out to Bob. “It was his vision that started this all and naming the festival Light of Day was his idea,” said Joe.
I had the pleasure to have interviewed the President of Light of Day Canada, Mr. Dave Rotella, and here’s what he had to share!
DEB: Good afternoon co-founder/President of LOD Canada and owner of DANIMA Creative Group, Dave Rotella, and Vice President of LOD Canada, world-renowned venue & music promoter extraordinaire-Sam Grosso, and LOD Title Sponsor, and committee member who is also Director of National Accounts invacare, Mr. Charles Harrisom. It was a pleasure to have purchased my 2-day concert ticket to your fabulous event that supports an organization that utilizes the power of music to raise money and awareness in its continuous battle to defeat Parkinson’s disease and its related illnesses ALS, PSP, and even Cancer. It was an honor to review your stellar lineup that took place on February 19th & 20th, 2021.
Light of Day’s inaugural parent organization from Asbury, New Jersey, first began in 2000, after a very special 40th birthday celebration from Downtown Cafe in Red Bank, NJ, celebrating Parkinson’s patient, artist manager, and music industry veteran, Bob Benjamin. After this show, Bob reached out to friends including concert promoter Tony Pallagrosi and musician Joe D’Urso who formed the 1st Light of Day Charity named after a Bruce Springsteen tune. LOD has grown since its conception, spreading to an internationally recognized organization with events that have been held in 3 continents including Europe, Australia, and 14 years in Canada since 2007, which was co-founded by Mike Minervini, and Dave Rotella. Dave, thanks to your LOD Canada team of huge hearts, over the years you have definitely made a difference. Your team is committed to raising money through various events where proceeds get distributed to Parkinson’s Canada, Light of Day Foundation, and various local organizations that support research and care like London Health Sciences Movement Disorder Centre, Queen’s University Neuroscience Studies in Kingston, the Steve Ludzik Parkinson’s Rehab Clinic at Hotel Dieu Shaver Hospital in St. Catharines ON, and now the Walker Cancer Clinic in support of the Niagara Health Foundation. LOD Canada’s vision is to provide support to local Parkinson’s initiatives and continue to provide partner organizations with funds to enable them to continue their great work. Volunteering allows you to connect with your communities and make a difference. You, 3 gentlemen, have definitely shared your passion, drive, dedication, and your positive willingness to help make an impact in the lives of many.
- Can each of you share your story on how you officially became affiliated with this cause to raise awareness and to eradicate Parkinson’s disease? DAVE: “I got a call from a friend, Mike Minervini, in late summer of 2007 and he asked if I would be interested in putting on a Light of Day show here in Niagara. He knew that I had put on events in the past and thought that we could do it together. I was familiar with Light of Day but hadn’t been to Asbury at that point to see a show. We had just finished developing Joe Grushecky’s website at the time and he had mentioned the idea of a show in Niagara and in Toronto since he had played the Cadillac Lounge and was friends with Sam Grosso. So we did. We put on our first show that was fairly successful, despite the snowstorm that weekend and the rest, as they say, is history!”
2. What are your hopes for Light of Day Canada in the year ahead?
DAVE: “COVID makes it hard to plan right now, however, now that we have ventured into the virtual world, we are looking at a couple of virtual events, and hopefully, sooner than later, we can get back into a live venue.”
3. What would each of you say is your favorite memory along this 14-year journey since 2007?
DAVE: “So, many great memories. Roddy Piper being piped into the Light of Day Niagara show. Standing on the Meridian Centre stage looking out at the largest crowd in Light of Day history (over 4000). But my favorite memory will always be my son playing his first Light of Day show, Light of Day 10, on the same bill as Steve Earle. The best thing about Light of Day, however, is the community that has been created over the years. From Asbury to Europe to Canada….like minded individuals, coming together through music to help in the fight. It’s one big family!“
4. I am excited to inquire with you as to the grand total raised upon your 1st ever virtual LOD Canada event that ran February 19th through the 20th, 2021, that featured 51 internationally acclaimed artists? Also, how much would you say LOD Canada has raised since its beginning back in 2007? DAVE: “We have raised close to $500,000 over the 12 years. It looks as though we will surpass 15K this year, which I feel is pretty good considering it was a virtual show. Selling 350 tickets from Niagara to Scotland!“
As well, I had the pleasure of sitting down with Title Sponsor for Light of Day Canada, committee member, and Consultant, Mr. Charles Harrison, and here is what he had to share!
DEB: Can you share your story on how you officially became affiliated with this cause to raise awareness and to eradicate Parkinson’s disease? CHARLES: My father, Canadian painter Ted Harrison, died as a result of respiratory failure due to Parkinson’s Disease when my wife Kathy and I were at Light of Day Winterfest in Asbury Park, NJ on Friday, Jan 16 back in 2015. He’d had it for a long time and was only mildly affected, but really started going downhill about two and a half years before he passed at the age of 88. Prior to his death, his Doc told us he had about two weeks left, but he only lasted five days. He was living out West in Victoria, BC, and we were booked to fly directly out there on the Monday after LOD. We debated whether or not we should leave immediately, but felt the fates had placed us where we needed to be – his affairs were in order, we’d seen him just before Xmas and we were at a fundraising event for the disease which led to his demise. Add to that the fact I was reaching for the doorknob to one of Asbury’s better-known art venues, Gallery 629 when my phone went off notifying us of his exit and it was a no-brainer that we should stay. Call it Kismet. This leads into:
DEB: What are your hopes for Light of Day Canada in the year ahead?
CHARLES: Like most people who love live music, it would be great if we could stage a live fundraising event featuring a number of the incredible artists who supported our February shows and continue raising funds to help the cause. Realistically, that is unlikely to happen but a solid plan B would be a series of online events over the balance of the year showcasing a number of these performers and generating some revenue for both Parkinson’s and cancer research right here in Ontario.
DEB: What would each of you say is your favorite memory along this 14-year journey since 2007?
CHARLES: We went back to the hotel, had a little cry, and notified those who needed to know. Later that night, we went to the legendary Stone Pony for the annual Asbury Angels induction event which honors those from the area who have passed. It was being headlined by NYC’s poet laureate and rock n roll’s best-kept secret Willie Nile. We’d heard of Willie and knew a couple of his songs, but had never seen him play live before. He and the guys put on a next-level show and Kathy and I left the venue just flying! What could have been a really dark day ended on a high note given the unbelievably positive energy they delivered. We met Willie for the first time a few months later at the Ottawa Blues Festival, then again a week later at a LOD Canada event in Niagara Falls organized by Dave Rotella. After a couple of glasses of wine, I told him about seeing him the day my dad died, the effect their show had on us and that became the start of a very special friendship which has led us to travel to Italy with Willie twice, countless gigs in NY, NJ, Mass and ON. Willie and the band also played our wedding in November of 2017 at Sam Grosso’s legendary Cadillac Lounge and, with the sponsorship of The Ted Harrison Foundation, traveled to my hometown of Whitehorse, Yukon to perform at the Atlin Art and Music Festival in the village of Atlin, BC (2 hours SW of Whitehorse).
Light of Day Thanks went out across social media where I share from.
Thanks to all who came out to support our online virtual festival!!
None of this was possible without our amazing committee – Laurie BF, Tim Housser, Sam Grosso, Sue Obee, Lisa MacIntosh, Chris Green, and Charles Harrison who worked so hard planning, acquiring artists, Tweeting, running the auction, gathering auction items, and doing support to ensure people got into the event. A special thank you to Connor from DANIMA Creative Group for all of his design and video work. I also want to thank the artists for their amazing contributions – simply incredible…each-and-every-one of you!! Thanks to Chris Green from the Niagara Health Foundation and Maureen Thun from The Steve Ludzik Foundation for speaking about their organizations! A special thanks to Eric Alper for all of the hard work as our publicists!! Thank you to our sponsors for their generosity and most importantly thank you to everyone who supported the shows through purchasing a ticket, purchasing merchandise, bidding on auction items, and donating so generously! We do this to raise money and awareness for Parkinson’s disease and cancer and we did just that! Over $15,000 was raised through ticket money, the auction, merch, and donations. In addition, many new people became aware of the Light of Day. A movement that was started 21 years ago by Bob Benjamin and thanks to his courage, strength, and persistence, has continued to grow and has become an amazing community of caring and giving individuals with one purpose – to eradicate these diseases in our lifetime. God bless Bob Benjamin and all of you. Thank you for always supporting our artists and our causes. I am truly humbled to be a part of this amazing Light of Day family. We’re just around the corner,” says Dave Rotella of Light of Day Canada.