Board member Chris Morris sent this in to CBC Radio’s Q this morning – making the case for bringing the show to Kingston.
Hi Jian & the Q crew,
I’m on the board of directors for an amazing charity called Joe’s M.I.L.L., aka the Joe Chithalen Memorial Musical Instrument Lending Library. Joe Chithalen was a bass player in the Kingston area, and though he isn’t that well known outside of Kingston, he certainly made an impression on Canadian music in the 90s. He was the original bass player in both Weeping Tile and The Mahones, and played in many other Kingston bands as well. He was on tour with The Mahones in Amsterdam in 1999 when he ate something that triggered his peanut allergy. His Epi-Pen wasn’t handy, and he died.
Joe was a popular guy in Kingston, and the musical community rallied instantly with tribute shows and creating a legacy project. Wally High, personal assistant to Dan Aykroyd, was a friend of Joe’s and had long dreamed of a spot where young people could go to get their start in music. The Musical Instrument Lending Library was conceived, and in 2011 we have exceeded 2000 loans for the year, with an inventory of over 450 instruments! Over the years we have had many fundraising concerts to keep us open: The Tragically Hip, The Trews, Matthew Good, The Doobie Brothers, Jeff Healey, Steppenwolf, Prarie Oyster, and many, many more have all believed in our cause and were happy to lend their support.
My main role on the board is to oversee our special events. Saturday night, we had booked Led Zeppelin tribute band Michael White & The White to play a benefit concert for us, along with a couple of local opening acts. We were on track to sell out the show when Michael called from Toronto to say he was too sick to play. We’d been trying to put this together for over a year, and we had 10 hours until doors opened to figure out how to save the evening. I called The Mansion, the venue we had booked, to let them know and to see what options we had. The Mansion has live music 7 nights a week and is owned by Kingston musicians. After a couple of hours of phone calls and emails, we found out that Sarah Harmer, an old friend and bandmate of Joe’s, was available and was more than happy to fill in. Although Sarah Harmer isn’t your first choice of substitute for a Zeppelin tribute act, we knew if we got the word out that we’d sell some extra tickets just for her, and maybe some of the Zep fans would stay anyways.
It turned out that we had an amazing show, raised some much-needed money for the M.I.L.L., and everyone had a really great night.
Could this happen anywhere else but in Kingston? Is there anywhere else in Canada where anybody can walk into a library and walk out with a guitar, drumkit, autoharp, clarinet, ukelele, or a didjeridu? We don’t think so. I hope you’ll consider bringing Q to Kingston and celebrate the culture that city gives us, and the culture that we try and give back to the city!