It began as a get together for coffee between two friends and former colleagues who had not seen each other for a few years. When Darren Baumgardner, one of the board members of the Cure Cancer Foundation, arrived at Production World, he was in for a surprise. He had come to see the new soundstage. One look was all it took, and, after further conversations with Kelly Kimo. Chris Duncan and Michael Kryton, “JAMMIN’ for A Cure” was born — an 18-hour music marathon in support of the Cure Cancer Foundation and the research of Dr. Michael Chu. All participation including performances were donated.
THE COVID CHALLENGE
The event would involve over 70 musicians and a team of technicians, operators and volunteers. The task at hand was to develop a COVID plan that would be approved by Alberta Health Services; no easy thing to accomplish. Michael Kryton drafted the original plan, and Darren Baumgardner navigated the rigourous negotiation process with AHS and the Department of Health to gain their approval.
The original dates of the event were set for February 19th and 20th; however, it was not going well. Guidelines were changing and the team was chasing a moving target. Although AHS had not issued a definitive ‘no’ to the project, they suggested that the event might have a better chance of gaining approval if the dates were pushed back.
Most of the musicians and bands had already committed to the February dates, but the event was rescheduled for March 26th and 27th. Michael Kryton, the Project Coordinator for Production World, had to re-secure the artists’ commitments. Despite some attrition, most artists re-committed, including the headliners: Brett Kissel (Canadian country music star), Alfie Zappacosta (the iconic Canadian singer-songwriter), and Clayton Bellamy (Juno Award-winning singer-songwriter from the Road Hammers).
For the next few weeks, the project team wrangled with the COVID plan, but finally found success. It would require all musicians in bands to complete a COVID test three days prior to the event. The lead singer from each group would also have to re-test on site before the performance. Movements and gatherings in the venue were a controlled process from the moment they would arrive (at two separate entrances: one for bands, the other for solos or duos).
AHS finally provided their approval (which involved an exemption), but the actual approval certificate did not arrive until one hour prior to the start of the event. Up to that point, it was a nail-biter, but everyone hung on for the ride.
Heartland Auto Group stepped up as the title sponsor and, thanks to Kate Gallagher and Emily Vaughan of KMG Events, all the performance sets were individually sponsored. Pre-production was underway, involving the gathering of graphics and visuals from both sponsors and artists.
The performances were divided between the two Production World studios: the 3000 square-foot mainstage, which would host the 40-minute sets, and the second, smaller studio, Studio B, which would host the 20-minute solo and duo sets. The Production World team decided to invite other artists not on the JAMMIN’ roster to pre-record their 40-minute sets, which could be used as a contingency if a band dropped out last minute or if the lead singer tested COVID-positive when they arrived for their performance.
Denton Fraser, Production World’s Senior Sound Technician, fielded all of the artists’ technical requirements. The biggest challenge the technicians would face was the 20-minute turnover between mainstage bands. A pre-set backline of instruments would serve most of the musicians’ needs. Musicians could still bring in some gear as long as it did not encumber the turnover process. Production World’s Monitor Mix veteran, Jeff Carmichael, managed the turnovers and very quick soundchecks. His brother, Chad, held the reins in Studio B.
The Production World team also included Pali Blaho (graphics, video playback, streaming/recording), Glenn Davidson (switcher), Tim Antoniuk (alternate switcher), Scott Parnwell (jib cam operator/animator), Brett McKenzie and Paul Bezaire (camera operators), and Derek Praught (backline assistant/supervisor). The whole team was coordinated by Production World Producer-Director, Chris Duncan.
Michelle Lori Ewoniak, a veteran volunteer at many Edmonton music events, recruited a stellar volunteer crew to help manage the COVID intake process during the event.
Kryton, the Project Coordinator, coordinated all of the COVID pre-tests with DyanLIFE, who sponsored all of the tests. It was considered nothing short of a minor miracle when all musicians tested negative.
Of the 14 hosts recruited for the event, most attended virtually via Zoom. CISN Country103.9’s morning host, Chris Scheetz decided to come to the venue to introduce the opening headliner, Brett Kissel. Other hosts who appeared virtually included Mark Connolly (CBC Morning Show Edmonton AM), Tracie Gray (Global), Terry Evans (K-97), John Sexsmith (Global), Daryl McIntyre (former CTV anchor), Rick Bronson (The Comic Strip), as well as Marty Forbes, Angie Klein, Todd Crawshaw, Jeremy Kornel, Stacy Brotzel, Lloyd Lewis, and Production World owner, Kelly Kimo. Despite some last-minute roster changes, it was now game on.
WE BE JAMMIN’
The energy was electric from the first moment. Musicians had been well advised in advance and followed the protocols and procedures as they entered the venue at pre-determined times. Robin Matkea had set up a make-up and wardrobe area, of which artists took complete advantage. Robin’s husband, Anthony Lovesey, an Edmonton- based, artist manager, had six performers in the roster (including Martin Kerr, Josh Sahunta, Kane Incognito and others) and had been significant in helping to fill any last-minute gaps in the roster.
For 18 hours over Friday (6pm – midnight) and Saturday (noon – midnight), the executed plan ran like clockwork. The event streamed live via YouTube on the JAMMIN’ for A CURE website. All performances were being recorded and artists were given links to download their sets, a value the musicians were very excited about. Click here to watch Friday performances. Click here to watch Saturday performances.
The roster was diverse ranging from the headliners to solo artists. Herein was the roster.
JAMMIN – FRIDAY
6pm – midnight
JAMMIN – SATURDAY
Noon – 6pm
JAMMIN – SATURDAY
6pm – midnight
|BRETT KISSEL||CONFOUNDED DIALS||ALFIE ZAPPACOSTA|
|Cure Cancer Videos||TRACY LYNN BYRNE||HAILEY BENEDICT|
|FKB||JOSH SAHUNTA||BARDIC FORM|
|OLIVIA ROSE||BRENDA DIRK||AMY METCALFE|
|CLAYTON BELLAMY||DAHLIA & THE VILLAINS||EL NIVEN & THE ALIBI|
produced by Clayton Bellamy
|STEVON & KAYLA ARTIS||KAYLEE CAURA-LEE||DARREL BARR|
|MARTIN KERR||KANE INCOGNITO||KESARA KIMO|
|HAILEY BENEDICT||LLOYD LEWIS||DANNY FLOYD COLE|
|DIRT ROAD ANGELS||STEPHANIE HARPE||JUSJRDN|
|JESSE ROADS||MARIA DUNN||MIGHTBEREA|
|GUITARFACE||STEVON KAYLA & the HEAVENLY BAND||CANADIAN COLDWATER REVIVAL|
When all was said and done, thousands had viewed JAMMIN’ between Quebec and British Columbia and others around the world. When the dust settled, the event raised $50,000 overall. The on-line silent auction generated over $10,000 with only 12 items of uniquely curated items and experiences donated by generous members of the community and the Cure Cancer Foundation Board. Plans for JAMMIN’ 2 are already underway. Organizers are optimistic that donations and pledges will double next year.
Darren Baumgardner, the Project Lead on the Cure Cancer Foundation side, was enthusiastic about the result. “It was an amazing partnership with Production World. Together, we showed the community that it is possible to mount a major entertainment event and keep it safe. And, of course, we are thrilled by the contributions people made to support the leading-edge research of Dr. Michael Chu who is overseeing a cancer treatment that removes cancer cells from the body, leaving the healthy ones alone. At a time when cancer sometimes gets lost in the pandemic paradigm, this was an important event.”
“I’m extremely proud of our team.” said Kelly Kimo, Production World owner. “Given the challenges to produce something of this scale happening in a pandemic, it was a remarkable accomplishment.”
The Cure Cancer Foundation had just completed “The World’s Longest Hockey Game” prior to JAMMIN’. That event, which has been evolving over the years, raised over $2 million. One can only hope that “JAMMIN’ for A Cure”, will follow in its footsteps in the next few years.
As for the artists, they were just happy to get out and play in a safe environment. Dare we say it — they were willing to do it — for a song. A mighty song, indeed.