Regardless of location the gift of music continues to give.
And for the dozen artists behind the 14th annual Okotoks Food Bank Christmas Concert it’s always a thrill to contribute to such a worthy cause even if this year’s performance is being done from a safe distance.
“I’m so grateful to be a part of this event, it is such an amazing thing to see the community come together this way to support the food bank every year,” said Brettyn Rose, one of 12 artists contributing to the concert. “I’m super thankful that they’re still putting it on this year even if it’s in a virtual way. It’s best case scenario right now with what we have and the times we’re living in.
“It’s so amazing that the people behind the event are still putting it on and allowing us musicians to be a part of it, still share our music and still support the food bank.”
The virtual concert, available to view online from Dec. 15-28, will feature a dozen of the best musicians in the community with a lineup that includes George Canyon, the Travelling Mabels, Over the Moon, MzBehavin, Taken By Sanity, John Fraser & Lady C, Jay Burns, Dwight Forseth, Doc Mehl and Doris Daley, Michela Sheedy and Rose.
Performing virtually is becoming old hat for many musicians as something of an occupational necessity during the pandemic.
It’s also a chance to get creative in a small space.
“What I do for every event is I have a big set-up in my living room and for the food bank (concert) I set it up with a bunch of Christmas decorations,” Rose said. “You’ve got a tripod, ring lights, all those things. That was something I had to learn, making sure to get good lighting, how to stack a camera or a phone to a height that’s necessary.
“It’s definitely been a bit of trial and error to see what looks good and how to do it.”
Rose, a nominee for the YYC Music Awards Emerging Artist category earlier this year, will be performing her mash-up of a pair of holiday classics Let It Snow and Winter Wonderland.
“Christmas is my favourite time of the year, it is my favourite holiday,” she said. “I love Christmas music so much, I’ve been listening to it since November already.
“Every year when Christmas comes around I’m so excited to practise and prepare music for gigs. Even though there aren’t as many this year I had so much fun putting together this mash-up.
“I just love Christmas music and can’t wait to see what the other artists are doing.”
For Sheedy, the concert is a chance to take on a classic in her interpretation of folk legend Joni Mitchell’s holiday tune The River.
“It’s really important to me to be involved with the Christmas concert,” Sheedy said. “Because, for me, it’s a true representation of my hometown and my community coming together every year and it brings a lot of joy to my heart.
“It sucks that we can’t get together in person this year, but it’s definitely going to be just as special.”
Sheedy is well-versed in putting together virtual performances having done a number of them this year.
“It’s been a lot of video content, but it does allow me to get kind of creative with it,” she said. “This year it’s going to be myself and my guitar player Mike Sands and we’re putting together something really cool for the Christmas concert.
“It is a nice change of pace to be able to perform Christmas music again, it kind of takes me out of the blues sometimes. I’ve got a couple Christmas gigs that I’ve been doing lately and it’s nice to dust off these old songs and get myself and others into the holiday spirit.”
Lifting spirits and the power of music have certainly been reinforced this year, in particular, and it’s feedback artists like Sheedy have heard time and again.
“Back in the summer time when I was playing a lot of summer concerts I really felt the sense that people were craving a sense of community wherever they could get it,” Sheedy said. “And I was providing that in some cases which was really nice to be able to be a part of people’s joy again instead of just being, often times I can be a wall ornament in a busy bar…
“People are more appreciative and I felt a sense that music and arts in general are true necessities, especially during times like this.”
The virtual tickets can be purchased through okotoksfoodbank.ca/events or on Eventbrite with more information available on @Okotoks Food Bank Christmas Concert on Facebook.
Folks are also asked to donate non-perishable food items to the Food Bank at #120, 220 Stockton Ave. in Okotoks.