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Not There Benefit Concert and CD Release
MY TOWN - 07/14/05
by Norla Antinoro

Sometimes the music is just about the music. We go for the tunes and we go for the beat. But from time to time, the music brings more. For this baby boomer child of the 60s, last night's launch of the CD "Not There", produced by Guelph's own Sam Turton with the RSD, was a trip back into the halls of my youth and a trip into my future as social consciousness and good music once more joined hands. The musicians were young and old, new activists and long campaigners. The audience was as varied and the energy was high in spite of the discomfort of the lingering heat wave.

The RSD: Residents for Sustainable Development is now the only group officially opposing the building of a Wal-Mart store on Guelph's rural northern boundary. The citizens of Guelph have been fighting the placement of the Wal-Mart at that location since 1995 and have, in a precedent setting battle, managed to keep Wal-Mart stalled for 10 years.

Whatever the reasons for opposing the placement of the store at that location, the fact is that a significant portion of the community does oppose it and that Wal-Mart has chosen to fight the community instead of working with it. To me that alone is enough reason to oppose them with a great deal of energy.

And energy is what this group of talented and enthusiastic entertainers brought to the concert launching the Not There CD last night. The groups performed music from the CD with other pieces interspersed as well. The room was hot and the acoustics a bit of a challenge but the music and the spirit of the night overcame all of that.

Ken Brown set the mood with the sounds of classic folk protest. What are we going to do about Wal-Mart, he said, "we're gonna sing 'em folk songs." And he did. His songs tied the growth of capitalism and the ever present threat of war clearly together. His history of singing on the union lines came through in the lyrics and the attitude. "War is so's the peace game that's hard." And then he sang the one that brought tears to my eyes "What if these are the times? What if this is my life?"

Andrew MacPherson followed with Stephen Woeller in a pleasant new age interlude. Then Jesse Stewart came on with his fascinating drum songs telling us that in the story of capitalism, "every chapter begins with a war....and ends with a war....this is the record of capitalism." Stewart ended to cheers and applause as the background words floated over his drum music with the words "You will make it happen," capturing the essence of this evening of social awareness and music.

There could not really be a high point of the evening, with so many talented musicians performing such a wide variety of styles. But James Gordon and Friends singing about old Stone Road painted a bittersweet picture of loss and longing...."another golden idol goes up ...another silver maple goes down...don't it make you want to cry?" Indeed, it does.

Sam Turton, a major driving force in the RSD efforts, gives us "Empires Fall" in his usual soul grabbing style. "They may be big, they may be tall, but all empires fall," bringing us hope not just for this battle against the corporate giant Wal-Mart in its war against the people of this small Canadian community, but for all the battles we are waging against tyranny, greed, and corporate empires across the world today. He urges us to "stand up" and be counted once more.

The CD "Not There" is available at the RSD website where schedules of future fund raising events and the story of the battle between the David of Guelph's citizenry and the Goliath of the giant Wal-Mart corporation can also be found.

We can't bring back the past, but we can take a hand in shaping the future by working together in the present.