Songs for Haiti

The Apple Crisp community band together for a great cause

The Gertudes are pictured in Skeleton Park, a neighbourhood they call home.
The Gertudes are pictured in Skeleton Park, a neighbourhood they call home.

A&E Editor Two and a half years ago, Kingston was a tough place to get a gig for musicians. A group of earnest and eager young musicians did something about it.

“Apple Crisp started as an organization to help young musicians to find a place to play,” said Greg Tilson, one of the many faces behind the Apple Crisp collective.

It’s a few years later and there seems to be a buzz about the Kingston music scene that wasn’t there before. With more venues and the support of Apple Crisp, many Kingston bands are gaining some serious notoriety outside the limestone walls. With Tilson’s own band The Gertudes getting a nod from Canada’s music authority, Exclaim and Apple Crisp musician PS I Love You getting a shout out from the testy music website Pitchfork, Kingston might just be the new Williamsburg.

The Apple Crisp monthly music series has hosted many musicians passing through Kingston, while showcasing many Kingston bands in many quirky venues around town. Now, Apple Crisp are ready to do their part for Haiti.

“It was pretty simple how it all came about,” Tilson said. “It was initiated a few days after the earthquake. Abrah McKeen, an environmental studies student and Matt Rogalsky [a professor in the department of music and a member of Kingston band The Gertrudes] both e-mailed me and asked if I would be interested in doing a benefit.” Known for using various churches around town, Apple Crisp’s benefit will take place this Friday at Chalmers United Church.

“The pastor there, Steve Chambers, offered free use of the venue,” Tilson said. “He offered us volunteers to help out and to feed the performers. They’re going to celebrate with us and make charitable receipts for those who want to donate right on the spot.”

Tilson also has other reasons for using churches as venues.

“They’re accessible, all-ages, and they don’t seem to prevent people from coming out—people who might not want to go to a bar or something like that,” he said. “The acoustics are another reason. Chalmers has the best acoustics; I would argue the best in Kingston. We’re also a non-profit and we don’t have the money to rent out a large venue. Also, the fourth reason is that they fit a lot of people.”

All of the proceeds from the concert will go to Doctors Without Borders and the United Church Haiti Relief Fund.

“It was Apple Crisp’s top pick to donate the Doctors Without Borders—the majority of people wanted it to go to reach people working on the ground in Haiti,” Tilson said. “Doctors Without Borders is also one of the organizations that the Canadian government will match dollar for dollar.”

Along with The Gertrudes, the benefit will also feature Jenny Whiteley, The Wilderness of Manitoba and local author Steven Heighton.

“There’s a need for help and artists want to help by doing what they do best,” Tilson said. “It’s kind of inspiring to see everyone doing their part.” As for The Gertudes, they’re doing some pretty inspiring work as well.

“We’re just about to release a seven inch with Bruce Peninsula and PS I Love You sometime in March,” banjoist of The Gertudes, Annie Clifford said. “And we’re going to release a full-length album sometime in the fall.” With a new recording studio right around the corner of Clifford’s house, called North Of Princess Recordings, the band is truly making it happen in their own backyards.

“Oh, God. We don’t ever want to leave Kingston,” Clifford said. “I’m not leaving. I’m not going anywhere. We have everything we need here in Kingston. I don’t see what a big city would offer us.”

A Benefit Concert For Haiti will take place tonight at Chalmer’s United Church, 212 Barrie Street from 7:30 p.m. to 10 p.m. Donations will be taken at the door.

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