“On the Rocks”

29 Nov

Chris West’s project has been called “his baby,” a, “way to bring everyone together,” and, a “noble cause.” On Saturday March 28th, The Opera House hosted “On the Rocks,” a concert that showcased newer talent. Tickets were 15 dollars apiece and all proceeds were donated to SickKids Foundation. The main instigator of this night was Chris West.

West may be a truck dispatcher by day but his life is about music. “The only reason I am working is to fund my music,” he said. It was as early as age five or six, he couldn’t recall exactly which, that West first took an interest in the guitar. Since then, he played on his school band and his ever-supportive parents bought him his first drum kit. In the evening’s show, he played one song with a couple other friends but he doesn’t have his own band. “I’m jamming with a bunch of bands right now.”

This is the second year in which West has put together this event. Last year West raised $2,010 for the foundation. He first picked SickKids because it was, “the first charity that came to mind.” Although West found himself in the hospital when he was about five years old after having suffered a severe asthma attack, he doesn’t really remember the experience. That doesn’t mean he doesn’t recognize the importance of this hospital. “ A lot of people are doing stuff for breast cancer but I think that SickKids doesn’t get enough support.”

Once he had his charity picked, planning for this event began in October. West said, “I look forward to it every year.” In this roughly five-month period he hustles companies for sponsorship, attempts some modicum of publicity and books the bands for the show.

Helen and Jerry Pszczolkowski are parents to Alicia, one of the girls who play with West during the “On the Rocks” fundraiser. “We came last year. It’s a great event. It just needs more publicity,” said the father. They admit that if their daughter hadn’t been playing with West that they would not have even known about the event.

Athena Towers runs The Opera House and booked it with West both years. When he first told her about his idea, she recalled being, “inspired by his enthusiasm.” “He is extremely dedicated to the cause,” she said.

Even as the event begins, West does not have a chance to relax. He sprints around the venue, avidly checking to make sure all runs smoothly. On his way to attend to some other errand he says to Towers “Athena there are people on the balcony.” She replies, “You just enjoy the show and I’ll take care of it.” Of course Chris cannot ‘just enjoy the show.’

The photographer of the event and close friend of West, Ryan Forde, thinks highly of the event, which he also attended last year. “ It’s for a noble cause for those less abled than us.” He seems to think even more highly of his own friend. “He’s done a lot of work out of his own pocket.”

West admits that, “Yeah, last year the entire thing came out of my pocket.” This year, although he earned $1,250 in sponsorship he still has to pay the remainder. West doesn’t seem to mind for a chance to play and listen to music he loves.

Chris’s father, Dave Senior West couldn’t keep himself from grinning broadly, easily fulfilling the role of the proud father. In their house growing up, “We used to play Pink Floyd and Supertramp.” He believes he and his wife instilled a love of music in their children.

Aside from having one son passionately committed to music, their other son, Dave West, is a member of the band Secret Suburbia and was showcased in the night’s events as the final band. “My brother’s always talking. So, I don’t completely trust him but when he gave us a headlining spot we said ‘yes.’”

As the father of at least two musically talented boys, it is no wonder the proud father can’t stop beaming. He recalls his children having a room for instruments all to themselves. There they taught themselves how to play. “It was just noise at first,” West Senior said. In fact, it began as a “nightmare” for him and his wife and the neighbours. Both boys have learned a lot since those days. With one more child just 13 years of age at home, who knows how that child will be thrust into the world of music.

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