Music News

Help the Downie Wenjack Fund this Friday in Muskoka

A warm summer night in Muskoka, great friends, better music, under a starry sky. Sounds pretty fun, right? A concert to benefit the Gord Downie and Chanie Wenjack Fund makes it memorable, a can’t-miss event.

This Friday, Aug. 17, is the second FamilyBand Benefit Concert at the KEE To Bala, featuring Buffalo’s Strictly Hip, DJ Shub (formerly of A Tribe Called Red) and Jordan Mowat.

Mowat will be starting the evening a drum and acoustic set before DJ Shub comes out with a set of “hip-hop infused with traditional powwow music,” says Rob Ferreira, the event’s organizer.

When Strictly Hip takes the stage later, Mowat will be sharing vocals with Jeremy Hoyle for a few songs.

“Indigenous and non-Indigenous coming together, it’s a beautiful thing,” Ferriera says.

The first FamilyBand show, way back in mid-winter February, was a memorable night, not only because the concert was just days before Gord Downie’s birthday, but it was Strictly Hip’s first performance at the Horseshow Tavern, on “those checkerboard floors,” next to a new mural of Stompin’ Tom and Gord. Talk about emotional.

Friday’s show will continue FamilyBand’s mission of bringing together in Indigenous and non-Indigenous communities together with music to share stories and get a better understanding of each other in a fun, relaxed setting.

“We’ve always wanted to do a fundraiser and show at the Kee. It’s legendary, full of character and it sits in the heart of Muskoka overlooking Bala Bay,” Ferreira said in April when this week’s show was first announced. “I grew up in cottage country and have seen so many shows there, including the Hip. It just felt right to host our next event at the KEE.”

The first show raised about $10,000 through tickets, merch and raffles, all of which goes to the Downie Wenjack Fund. Their goal this time around is to raise $15,000, so keep those wallets open!

And if you live near the KEE but can’t make it to the show, or if you want to help out in other ways, Bala Falls Pub is the official pre-party location for the show. The pub will be donating proceeds from a selection of poutine purchases all week to the Downie Wenjack Fund, and when patrons purchase a Sawdust City Little Norway beer at the pub, proceeds from that will also go toward the fund.

For those who might be skeptical about the event, given the number of fake Hip or Downie items that have popped up online since news of his illness was made public, rest assured: The event has the full support and blessing of Mike Downie and the Downie Wenjack Fund. Ferriera worked closed with Mike Downie during a trip to Kenora in November 2016 to meet Chanie Wenjack’s family, including his sister Pearl, for the Walk for Wenjack.

Back to the fun stuff: There’s a long list of items to be raffled off, including:

  • Limited edition prints from Hip photographer, David Bastedo and Richard Beland
  • A hat created by Izzy Camilleri and Karyn Ruiz (designers of Gord’s outfits from the Man Machine Poem) similar to the style that Gord wore during the Fully & Completely Tour in 2015 using remnant leather from Gord’s outfits that Izzy had created for him for the tour
  • A signed Secret Path illustrated book by graphic artist, Jeff Lemire
  • Signed Jake Gardiner and Doug Gilmour Maple Leafs Jerseys.


Hoyle, the Canadian-born singer for one of the longest-performing Tragically Hip tribute bands, has mentioned that the rest of the group haven’t been up to the KEE before and he’s particularly excited for this show and the chance to show the guys around.

But, always a music fan, he’s equally enthusiastic about the rest of the lineup.

“I’m just really looking forward to seeing DJ Shub and Jordan Mowat perform,” he says. “They’ve both become part of my daily listening so count me as a fan of both. It’s music that I haven’t been exposed to before so the Indigenous elements of what those artists do is a whole fresh new world for me. Hoping other people become fans as well.”

More information on the event is available here, which also includes a link to buy tickets. Doors are at 8 p.m. and the show is slated to start around 9 p.m., in full view of the stars.

Amber Healy

I write about music policy and lawsuits because they're endlessly fascinating.

Amber Healy has 517 posts and counting. See all posts by Amber Healy

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