“If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”
That’s how kawarthaNOW writer Paul Rellinger describes Peterborough Performs, a musical benefit raising funds for shelters and housing agencies supported by the United Way Peterborough & District, which is returning to Showplace Performance Centre on Thursday, March 2nd — having already raised a combined $50,000 from its two prior iterations.
Rellinger, who is a United Way campaign cabinet member, is returning to organize and produce the event for the third time. Working in close conjunction with United Way staff, he says he’s thrilled the organization is once again giving its full support.
“I knew we were on to something very special after the first event and was hopeful the United Way felt likewise but one is never sure,” says Rellinger who, in 2020, was recruited by then United Way campaign chair David Goyette to organize and produce the initial event.
“Clearly the United Way sees, like I do and like our generous performers and sponsors do, the need to give people the opportunity to do something they’re capable of doing — buy a ticket — to make a dent in what is an overwhelming challenge for our community. No, this event isn’t the solution to homelessness, but it is an opportunity to take a small action that says you care.”
On Thursday, March 2nd, ‘Peterborough Performs III: Musicians United To End Homeless’ will see 43 musicians gift their time and talents as part of 15 acts presented over four hours, all performing simultaneously on two stages — the David Goyette Stage in Showplace’s main theatre space and the more intimate lower-level Nexicom Studio.
RBC is again stepping up as the event’s presenting sponsor, and the performance lineup reflects the previous events held in March 2020 and March 2022.
With Jordan Mercier as emcee, returning are Rick and Gailie’s Peterborough All-Star Band, The Weber Brothers Band, Tom Eastland, Benj Rowland, Michaela Hetherington, Jacques Graveline, Wylie Harold, and Phil Stephenson and Glen Caradus with Ron Kervin.
New to the mix are Groove Authority, Nicholas Campbell and the Two-Metre Cheaters, The Receivers (Irish Millie with sisters Fern and Willow Marwood), Chris Collins, The Hippie Chicks (Tami J. Wilde, Joslyn Burford, and Joan Lamore), Nick Ferrio and Evangeline Gentle, and — reuniting following a 10-year hiatus — Jericho’s Wall.
General admission tickets to the 7 to 11 p.m. event, made possible again through provided services from kawarthaNOW, RMS Events, Long & McQuade, and Porter Sound, cost $50 and are available online at showplace.org or at the Showplace box office (290 George St. N.) from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday to Thursday and 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Friday.
“I’m more of a word guy, so my math may be suspect, but a $50 ticket breaks down to just a little more than $3 per performance,” Rellinger points out. “You can’t beat that, no way no how. And being general admission, ticket holders can wander Showplace as they please, taking in the main stage acts or hanging out in the more intimate Nexicom Studio or, ideally, do a combination of both.”
Rellinger notes RMS Event’s returning involvement is huge — a partnership that will again see Andy Tough work his magic, allowing the audience in each room, to see and, during breaks, hear the performance in the other room. This year, he’s adding a video screen component to the main stage presentation, greatly enhancing the audience experience.
A related virtual silent auction, sponsored by LLF Lawyers and featuring an array of both experiential and hold-in-hand items, will open February 16th and close March 2nd at the event. Visit www.uwpeterborough.ca for the link to the auction where a full description of each item up for grabs can be seen.
The need for a fundraising event like Peterborough Performs is yet another sobering reminder of the city’s ongoing homelessness emergency. According to the most recent United Way-sanctioned Point In Time Count — a survey of 176 people experiencing homelessness in the city during a defined 24-hour period this past December — there has been a 350 per cent increase in the number of people sleeping outdoors since the last survey three years ago.
There are many other statistics listed on the report’s pages: a dizzying array of numbers that confirm the root causes of homelessness, who is most vulnerable, and how an overtaxed shelter system is trying to keep up but, with three people on the street for every two sheltered, is unable to provide assistance to all those in need.
United Way director of philanthropy Anne Ondercin, together with development and communication officer Sara Mountenay, has been hard at it behind the scenes in support Peterborough Performs. That has included securing the support of presenting sponsor RBC, which has been all in for all three events.
“RBC came to the table for the first event and that in itself is a huge deal,” says Ondercin, adding “To be able to get a presenting sponsorship on a first event is almost unheard of. RBC had faith in us.”
Michael Stoltz, vice-president of commercial banking with RBC, says the fact that the company is “employee driven — our employees live in the communities we serve” is very much at the heart of its corporate giving. He notes, in 2022, RBC provided $70,000 for events and initiatives in the Peterborough region.
“What I’m very proud of is when RBC donates, it comes from our net profits … we don’t ask our clients to give money to us and we then forward it on our name,” says Stoltz, adding “the power of giving, is part of our culture, part of our DNA.”
“The solution to homelessness is very, very complex, and that was exacerbated through COVID when a lot of the support that was there either got shut down or was off the table for a lot of people.”
“This rings very strongly in terms of the impact it has in this community,” Stoltz points out about those volunteering for the Peterborough Performs event. “You’re standing up. You’re sending a strong signal with not just your dollars but also your time. It’s not just the outcome. It’s pulling the community together to try and address a problem together. That’s pretty powerful.”
Not lost on Stoltz and Ondercin is the fact that many musicians, because of the nomadic nature of what they do combined with a lack of well-paying gigs, have relied at some point in their lives on the kindness of others for a bed and a roof over their heads.
“They’re musicians, not corporate executives, and many have couch surfed,” says Ondercin, noting “These are the folks that are giving up their time and their talent to being the community together.”
“They deserve applause because that it isn’t true everywhere you go,” adds Stoltz.
For his part, Rellinger says he is humbled — and amazed — that in the lead-up to each event, not one musician he has approached has said no to performing.
This year, that long list includes Peterborough Downtown Business Improvement Area executive director Terry Guiel who for years was the front man for Jericho’s Wall, arguably Peterborough’s most popular cover band — a distinction enhanced by their 15-year Saturday night gig at the Historic Red Dog.
“It’s really exciting to put the band back together for this one performance and to be doing it in memory of our lost guitarist Jan Schoute,” says Guiel, referring to the well-known and beloved Peterborough musician who died suddenly of a heart attack in November 2017 at the age of 54.
“We were always that band that showed up and played at charity events,” Guild notes. “It was quick two-sentence Facebook message to the guys and it was ‘Yup, we’re in.’ It’s an honour to be asked to join a great lineup and also that, based on social media, people fondly remember our band.”
“There’s going to be a seventh member on that stage. We loved Jan and he loved us. He would be happy to see us together. We can get together, or even mention Jericho’s Wall, without him in our thoughts.”
To see Jericho’s Wall, along with 14 other musical acts, at Peterborough Performs, get your tickets online at showplace.org or at the Showplace box office (290 George St. N.) from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday to Thursday and 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Friday.
kawarthaNOW is proud to be the media sponsor of Peterborough Performs III: Musicians United To End Homeless.