Cancer touches more lives now than ever before, but a local folk club in Birchcliff wants to remind everyone that music touches just as many lives in more powerful ways than we know.
The third annual hospital garden benefit concert presented by Acoustic Harvest was held at St. Nicholas Anglican Church on Kingston Road on Oct. 26, with benefits from the concert going to building a hospital garden for cancer patients.
The idea for a hospital garden originally came from Terry Eagan who owns Patio Records in Boston.
“It all started over 20 years ago with the passing of Terry’s wife,” said Lillian Wauthier, artistic director of Acoustic Harvest. “Her dying wish was to have some kind of garden or space of solace available for people receiving cancer treatment, so he built the first in Boston, two in Ottawa already.”
This event is going to help bring a garden to the Mackenzie Health Foundation in Richmond Hill.
The club encompasses eclectic sounds through the folk, bluegrass, Celtic and acoustic genres. Concert goers were treated to the tunes of Amy Gallatin & Stillwaters with their country twang and the vocals of Laura Smith. The house band featured Wendell Ferguson on guitar, John Shear on piano, David Woodhead on bass and Don Reid on the fiddle.
“Terry himself has become a great fan of Canadian musicians,” Wauthier said. “He actually requests some of the talent like David and Wendell to come and play at events down in the states.”
Laura Smith has made a huge name in the Canadian folk music scene, winning two East Coast Music Awards in 1996 and a Gemini award the following year. For her it wasn’t about just lending a name to the cause, it was about the effect music can have both in charity and in healing.
“I think the notion of building gardens for cancer patients is just amazing,” Smith said. “I think the power of music isn’t something that is quantifiable, you really just need to look at someone who is in pain and then hearing a song and then not being in pain.
“Parkinson’s patients can learn to walk again through the rhythm and beat of music; it has much more value as a humanistic tool than we know.”
Amy Gallatin & Stillwaters travelled from Connecticut by way of Syracuse just for this event.
“If you have music in your bones then you’ve been given a gift,” Gallatin said. “You’re not meant to use it to make a million bucks or get famous. You use your gift to bring people together, to help people heal and to share in happiness.”
Gallatin believes so greatly in the power of music she wants to see even more than healing gardens being built.
“I’m trying to drum up support for not only the hospital gardens but also providing iPods for the patients in cancer wards,” Gallatin said. “As a musician you see firsthand the healing power of music, the hope it can give people suffering through cancer, the ability to recover, all through the power of music.”