Sixteen sweet Fender acoustic guitars with pick ups and cases will be waiting in the Patrick Fogarty Catholic School music room when school resumes in September, courtesy of the Bleeker Unplugged with Friends show Saturday night at the Geneva Event Centre.
Bleeker bassist Mike Van Dyk produced the show after the band was approached by Jimmy Johnston from Strings for Students to raise funds for in-school guitar programming.
“I know all these guys ... everyone was right on board and easy to work with,” Van Dyk said.
Bleeker, Doug Trucker Band and Danny Webster, all Orillia-based groups, happily volunteered their time and talent to the cause.
“I was happy to be asked,” said Danny Webster, home for a visit from his now-home-base in the city. “I haven’t done a show in Orillia for awhile, I’ve been working and making music in Toronto, so this was a nice chance to bring my band, friends from Humber College, up, and make some music at home for a great cause. “
The Geneva Event Centre provided the venue free of charge. Aided by a couple of big donations, a sold-out crowd and promotion by radio sponsor MAX FM, the event raised well over $4,000, enough for the 16 right-handed guitars and one left-handed one as well.
“We got them through Gilbert’s Guitars, and they come pretty well set up from the factory,” Van Dyk explained. “But I’m gonna go through them and just tweak the setup a bit, just to have them ready to go for the fall.”
It was a treat for Orillians to see Bleeker on home turf.
The boys, Cole and Taylor Perkins along with Van Dyk, have just finished recording their next album, set to drop in the new year, so they haven’t done a show here for awhile.
They are off to New York shortly, where their label is based, to do a couple of videos. A tour of Canada and the United States is being planned.
“We are planning on making this fundraiser a yearly event,” said Taylor Perkins, lead singer of the band. “This year is PF, then Twin (Lakes Secondary School) next year. I’m a Twin boy myself, then Orillia Secondary School after that.”
Taylor Perkins was sporting his Green Hat, another fundraising effort out of the Perkins’ brothers’ music studio - this one for Harriett Todd Public School, where they attended elementary school.
“I’d like to do one or two fundraisers a year here, myself,” offered Van Dyk. “One for the women’s shelter would be really good to do, but there are so many good causes and we would like to help out, if we can.”
Audience members jumped at the chance to support Bleeker and friends.
“I’m a huge fan,” said one enthusiastic dancer. “They’re such nice guys, great music, and a great cause. I’d come see them whenever they played here for sure.”
The night started off with Danny Webster and band, playing a great pop set with Danny on bass and lead vocals.
Bleeker jumped in after Webster’s set, playing a crowd-pleasing and danceable set with many in the audience singing along to their favourites, including Highway and Where’s Your Money.
Lead singer Taylor Perkins had the crowd in the palm of his band while the band, including keys player Ayden Miller and drummer Matt Copeland, kept the music in the groove.
Doug Trucker Band rounded out the night, with Orillian Timmay Kehoe’s wailing guitar a key part of the thrash/metal/rock sound.
“I love this town,” offered Tay Perkins from the stage. “It’s just a great town. I love playing here.”
When great music and great support come together for a great cause, it works for everyone.