The Friends of Music Society believes all its clients are musicians first.
The long-running society based at the Eric Martin Pavilion Theatre hosts music programs to encourage good mental health, but regardless of its location, the programs aren’t just for people dealing with mental illness. What makes Friends of Music different is that its programs are partnership-based, meaning that musicians with mental illness play, rehearse and perform alongside other musicians from the community, including M-Award winning jazz vocalist Maureen Washington and her long-time collaborator Daniel Cook.
“We’re different from other music therapy programs because we’re open to anyone,” says Amy Reiswig, executive director of the Friends of Music Society. “Some people just want to escape the labels for a while … We treat them just like any other person.”
Programming began with the Moodswing Orchestra (playing big band music), then quickly expanded to include Minds at Work (Rhythm and Blues), the Moodswing Chorus, The Fun-damentals (music basics), The Eclectics, Haywire (country), plus guitar lessons, a ukulele program and a community concert series with more than 60 performances each year.
And they would like to see that programming expand. Reiswig says that while “the funding has stayed the same, we’re trying to do more with that money,” like starting a new program for seniors in the mental health ward and continuing current pilot programming like the ukulele group, which is only currently funded until December through a CRD Idea Grant.
To raise some money, they are “Banding Together” with an impressive, and eclectic, lineup of local musicians, headlined by Washington and Cook, for their annual fundraising concert, Sat., Oct. 20 at the Pro Patria Legion.
The jazz duo will play a stripped-down acoustic set of “intimate, alternative jazz and blues,” says Washington. “With a dash of country,” adds Cook.
The bill also includes country rock with Pistols West, the Celtic energy of Crikeymor, rockin’ swing with the Jukebox Jezebels and foot-stompin’ fun with the Jug Bandits. The Legion has a great dancefloor, but not a huge capacity, so get your tickets early because the event sold out last year. Friendsofmusic.ca. M
Maureen Washintgton and Daniel Cook, Pistols West, Crikeymor, Jukebox Jezebels, Jug Bandits
Oct. 20, 7pm
Pro Patria Legion (411 Gorge)
Tickets are $10, available in advance at Larsen’s Music.