The latest release by Nanaimo record label Mighty Speck Records concludes with a song that pays tribute to a Gulf Island activist who died of an incurable disease.
On June 1 Mighty Speck released Out of the Woods. The record includes songs from 18 of the label’s Vancouver Island-based artists, including Nanaimo’s David Hallam, who goes by Hallam Highwater. Hallam’s contribution to the record, May You Live Long, was originally recorded in 2012 for his friend Ken Rouleau, a Salt Spring Island activist and bookstore owner who died of ALS in 2015. This is the first time the song is being released.
“He lived until his very last days as somebody who was provocative and always trying to help the disadvantaged,” Hallam said. “He genuinely gave his whole life to it.”
Hallam said Rouleau aroused the ire of “the people who rule Salt Spring” when he allowed people sleeping in his shop’s covered entry to sleep inside instead. Despite the disapproval, Hallam said his friend “wouldn’t back down.”
When Rouleau was diagnosed with ALS, Hallam wrote and recorded May You Live Long with 30 other Salt Spring musicians and performed two benefit concerts, or “Ken-efits,” for Rouleau, raising around $7,500 to assist in his family’s living expenses.
All Mighty Speck artists are asked to support a charity, and for Hallam the ALS Society of Canada was an easy choice. He said another friend, a mother of three, has been living with the disease for 15 years.
“She’s currently confined to a bed in a hospital in Toronto and can only move one eye and one finger and yet she continues to have a full life with her kids. She’s expert on the computer so all her communication is done that way,” Hallam said. “Currently she can’t even see her family of course because of COVID and without making too much of it, she’s my hero.”
Out of the Woods is available here.