I’m getting stoked up about one of my best birthday presents ever.
When my friends at Metro Community decided to hold an outdoor concert on Saturday, May 5, they had no idea I turn 57 the next day. However, if they had known they could not have planned a better present. Metro has convinced a couple of my dearest friends to come out of ‘retirement’ and perform a special open-air musical concert in downtown Kelowna.
In their typical true community caring style Kelowna's very own Cruzeros (www.cruzeros.ca) are dusting off their amps in order to assist our city's homeless people. The event is tagged ‘Freedom Ride' and is a combination concert, and bicycle/motorcycle ride to raise both funds and awareness of the homeless issue within our community. Freedom Ride is the brainchild of Metro Community, a local faith based organization that ministers to the marginalized and the homeless. As written before, when it comes to the realities of assisting those with such challenges the folks at Metro get it.
Freedom Ride begins with road rally registration at 8 a.m. at Metro Central (1470 Water Street). When the riders return the outdoor celebration with food, kiosks, and concert will kick into gear.
For more info on the event or to pre-register for the ride and/or concert and lunch go to http://metrocommunity.ca/ministries/freedom-ride
During a 25-year span together the Cruzeros toured Canada and abroad releasing three albums, seven videos, and 20 radio singles that hit the charts across Canada and in several countries around the world.
The fact their reunion concert is the day before my 57th birthday seems somewhat poignant.
There was a time when I never figured I would live this long. Clearly several of my high school classmates figured the same way since they voted me the Grade 11 student least likely to reach age 50. My survival record is only due to the grace of God and helping hands of several folks.
There were a few dark years in my youth and young adult days. A part of me was a lost lad who turned to prescription painkillers and non-prescription drugs to eliminate major pain from some injuries. However, the dependency quickly took over and the illegal drugs, prescriptions drugs, and hard booze continued to dominate my life well after the excuse of pain was past.
Thankfully, some amazing strangers such as Phyllis Kitson, Herb Sullivan, and Harvey Stolz helped me deal with my anger, pain, and energy levels when others had given up. Without their help, I shudder to think where I would be.
Not long after I kicked the painkillers and hard booze addictions I also fortunately met both Curtis Tulman and Barry Mathers. I wound up managing Barry in one band while running concert light shows for Curtis in another. Within no time a solid friendship had been forged with each of them.
After more than a year of pleading I finally convinced them to meet one another and soon after they joined forces in a band called Sea Cruise. It was the beginning of an amazing bond and friendship between the three of us. After a few years, a variety of different band members, and a couple of name changes, the Cruzeros were created.
Along with Gary Smyth, Jay Terrance, Pa Ryan and other talented musicians, the Cruzeros became stars in the Canadian roots and country music industry. Best known for their tremendous harmonies, amazing musicianship, and talented vocals and song writing the band won multitudes of provincial and national music awards including several Juno nominations and appearances.
They also remained amongst my very dearest of friends.
We went through a lot together - as a band and as individuals -and even when I left town for other work we kept in constant touch. My world has gone through several ups and downs over the years since we first met, yet Curtis and Barry have always been there for me. I sincerely mean ‘always’. Better brothers would be hard to find.
When Curtis and Barry hung up their guitars as a team two years ago, it marked the end of a quarter-century playing together. Like several other fans and friends, I had to deal with the ‘change’ as well. We had been spoiled and were not prepared for it to end.
Thankfully, the ‘retirement’ has worked well for all individuals involved and their friendships never ended.
Come the afternoon of May 5, Barry, Curtis, Gary, Jay, Rod Millar, and others will step on stage and kick out some of their tremendously popular tunes - and fans on hand will go crazy. However, none of them will cheer louder or smile larger than me. It will most certainly be a very happy birthday gift for me listening to beautiful music by beautiful friends. And you know - life simply does not get much better than that.