Fourth Annual Mapleplaooza Turned to Fundraiser

Next Saturday, March 18th, the fourth annual Maplepalooza concert at Kimberley Hall is being dedicated as a fund raiser for the Meaford Refugee Welcome Group.  The group, originally organized by Cathy Miller, the pastor at Christ Anglican Church, and several prominent caring citizens, brought the Al-Sheayar family to Meaford just over a year ago and has helped them to settle in.  The family is doing very well.  The children are enrolled in local schools and have enjoyed various summer camps. The parents are attending English language classes, and are working to establish a specialty food business. Now they want offer the same opportunity to extended members of the family: Hanan’s sister, her husband and 4 children.

The rules have changed since the original push by the new Liberal government to meet their campaign commitment of bringing 20,000 refugees to the country within a few short months.  For this application, due this month, the government requires that the group raise a minimum of $32,000.  They are hoping to reach a target of $50,000, with the money going toward resettlement costs of the family and the first year of their living costs.  Donations are tax-deductible.

Maplepalooza has been an annual celebration of tree-tapping season organized by Jonathan Robinson in the great little community of Kimberley down in the bottom of the Beaver Valley.  He’s invited friends to come to his sugar bush to tap trees during the day and then party with him that night at Kimberley Hall to the sounds of live music.  This year his generous spirit has turned the party into a benefit concert to help raise funds for the new refugee initiative.

Originally the band lined up to headline the event was East Back Line, a local band built around the talents of Paul Allan and David Marshak with the addition of Beaker Granger.  But Paul was injured in a skiing accident earlier this year at Blue Mountain and can’t perform.  As it happens, Jonathan was injured in the same accident.  He turned to Chris Scerri, who has proven his ability to create great music events, to help pull it together.  Beaker and Dave of East Back Line will be there, but a new headliner band was lined up, a group that calls themselves Broken Bagel Scene, specializing in klezmer music.

Here’s the part that’s really cool, and really Canadian.  Klezmer music is a centuries old form of music derived from klezmorim, itinerant musicians who would provide dance music for Jewish weddings and holiday celebrations.  In the past few decades the popularity of this wonderfully celebrative music has spread beyond the Jewish community and has incorporated elements of gypsy music and jazz.  So here we have Jewish music as the centrepiece of a fund raiser for a Muslim family organized by a Christian group of volunteers.  What a great country this is!

Of course, Chris Scerri will be there and a few other surprise guests, but another great aspect of this concert is the youth contingent.  Meaford based singer-songwriter Greg Smith, whose expressive guitar and voice give life to short stories in song, is on the bill, as is Isaac Goodings, a young singer-songwriter from Thornbury.  And Abby Woodhouse, who delighted audiences last summer at the Summer Concert Series and then again at the Scarecrow Family Festival, after winning GBSS Idol, has also agreed to perform.

The Al-Sheayars, who have partly supported themselves by providing our community with delicious Syrian cuisine, will have some on offer at the event, and there will be a cash bar.  It starts at 7.  Come early, stay late.

You can also donate by cheque to:  Christ Church Anglican Meaford, with MRWG in the memo section.  Christ Church Anglican, 34 Boucher St E, Meaford, ON N4L 1E3.

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