by Yasmine Shemesh
“Generally speaking, I guess what artists are meant to do is convey emotion,” says Vancouver-based guitarist Alex Gordon-Firing. In late September, Gordon-Firing and the rest of his band, Damn Fools, packed up every instrument they owned and headed down to the Nimbus School of Recording Arts to meet with the children of the Camp Kerry Society to help them do just that: express themselves.
Camp Kerry is a non-profit organization that uses music therapy among its services to aid in the grieving of a lost loved one. Music therapy makes positive use of the non-verbal, creative, and affective nature of sound, and encourages self-expression, communication, growth, and healing. “It’s showing the kids that this can be a tool,” says Gordon-Firing. “It’s encouraging an outlet that’s productive, rather than negative.”
Armed with pizza, pop, and a huge array of percussion including congas, djembes, bongos, maracas, tambourines, and spoons, Damn Fools welcomed nearly 20 campers to the studio. A jam session brought down inhibitions and got the rock spirit rolling, and then the children, with the assistance of the six-piece, recorded a very special song that they had written at their annual retreat just a few weeks earlier. “We made sure everyone was involved,” Gordon-Firing explains. “These kids, when they first got there, they were a bit hesitant, a bit weary — it was their first time in the studio, their first time meeting these people [the band]. We were aware of that and we just really did our best to say, “hey, this is a safe zone, you can just do what you like here and you won’t be judged.””
Eager to support Camp Kerry further following the success of their day at Nimbus, Damn Fools hosted a fundraiser and silent auction on October 10 at the Sin Bin. Along with donated guitars and paintings, items such as a boxing glove signed by Mike Tyson, tickets to see the Dalai Lama, and a trip to Las Vegas were up for grabs. The usually electric band also played a stripped-down acoustic set — a special performance for a special evening.
The event raised about $11,000 in house and over $1,000 online — impressive in its own right, but the true kicker was the family with a longtime affiliation to Camp Kerry that matched all donations, bringing the total amount up to almost $25,000. “That was the real mind blowing thing,” says Gordon-Firing. “We were told by the director that it would probably fund the organization for at least a year.”
Having the opportunity to give back to the community and be so instrumental in facilitating the creative expression of the children of Camp Kerry “was very overwhelming. You just feel like giving more,” says Gordon-Firing, adding that the band definitely plans on being involved with the non-profit again in the future. “It was by far one of the most touching experiences I’ve had.”
Damn Fools are PEAK Performance Project Top 12 Finalists. They will be hitting the road to the Okanagan to play Summerland’s Festival of Lights on November 28, and then to Doc Willoughby’s in Kelowna for a show on November 29.
Published online at www.vancitybuzz.ca, November 2014