Victoria musicians rock the charity stage
The Calgary Stampede and many other musical events around town brought in a lot of fundraising dollars for those in need after the 2013 flood, with many bands donating their time and talent to entertain and raise much-needed money for the victims. The Michael Wood Band was no exception.
The indie rockers from Victoria, British Columbia, took their place onstage at the Cowboys tent on July 7 to help raise money for the Red Cross as well as open for the award-nominated band Buckcherry.
Lead singer and guitarist, Michael Wood, was impressed by Calgarians' desire to support one another.
"The whole thing was really great, it felt like everyone was coming together to help each other out around town," said Wood. "Being part of the Buckcherry flood relief show was an amazing experience, and probably the biggest show we've played to date."
Alex Campbell, the band's drummer, explained that towards the end of June the band had a layover in Calgary on their way back from a gig in Halifax. They had a good view of the surrounding areas and could see the damage everywhere – farmers' fields riddled with puddles, rivers that had cut new edges in the river bank, flooded golf courses as well as the incredible images of the damage displayed on the news.
"When we returned to Calgary for the Stampede, you could hardly tell that such immense damage had taken place so recently," said Campbell. "The city still bustled with life, the Stampede was well attended and the shows were still packed and that positive and determined attitude really showed up at the concert – people were happy, the crowd was enthusiastic and very supportive of all the bands that took the stage that day."
"It was a great event to be part of, we were very grateful to have the opportunity to support flood relief by playing music. It's a good day when doing what you love can be used to help those in need," Campbell added.
Guitarist Josh Weed agreed with Wood and Campbell about Calgary's never-ending strength.
"Everyone was in high spirits, and the atmosphere was fun to be in," Weed said. "They did a wonderful job of pulling together to help with flood relief, the whole city goes wild during Stampede and this year was no different, hell or high water."
STARTING AT THE STAMPEDE
The Michael Wood Band is no stranger to Calgary and they're often here for shows. Campbell explained that ever since the band started up two years ago, they've been getting more requests to play.
"When we started as a band, we were at the Stampede and ended up getting a lot of connections and had a network going and just expanded out from there," Campbell said.
Bassist Jon Burgundy said that "Calgary has a really good music scene compared to Vancouver and Victoria and there are more opportunities to play.
"One of the coolest things about starting to get recognized is being able to do things like charity fundraisers or benefit shows. For all of us it's a cool thing to do is to give back and be able to do what we love to do and, in return, help others," he added.
The band played a total of five shows over Stampede and will be back in Calgary in September to play at Mount Royal University for frosh week with more shows to follow.
THE ENERGY ON THE STAGE
The Michael Wood Band has a certain energy they bring to the stage that is contagious. With a mix of cover songs and originals, this indie rock band is fun to watch and listen to.
A typical show includes covers of The Killers, MGMT, Black Keys and Adele as well as songs from their first album.
"We really try and cater what songs we play to the crowd," said Burgundy. "When we're in Calgary we play a little bit more rock and roll and some oldie classics versus playing in Victoria and Vancouver where things seem to be a little more indie rock."
But the set list always depends on the venue according to Campbell.
"We do a mix of covers and originals, we're starting to incorporate more original tunes as well as do covers that are more specific to our sound," Campbell said. "It depends on how long the gig is, longer gigs will have more covers and for showcases we'll have more originals."
Since the band was created, they have recorded their first album, Occupy This, which covers topics from political themes to light-hearted teenage rebellion.
"It ranges from [songs] like 'Should We Be Afraid,' [which is] about all the stuff that's happening over in Egypt," said Burgundy. "Then it gets to the light- hearted side with 'I'll Just Go To Bed' about just doing whatever you wanted."
And another album is currently being discussed.
"We're writing all the time and our plan is to hopefully get into the studio and record a single soon, like within a month," said Wood. "'We're looking to start recording our next album in September."
Besides recording their next album, the Michael Wood Band has been busy opening for other big names besides Buckcherry, such as '80s rock bands Prism and Platinum Blonde, as well as pop-punk four-piece Faber Drive.
Beside opening for other bands, the Michael Wood Band plays across Canada all year round, playing shows in such cities as Victoria, Edmonton, Calgary, Regina, Saskatoon, Toronto and Halifax.
For the rest of the summer, the band has shows throughout British Columbia, including some all ages shows which allows a different dynamic for the band compared to playing in bars.
"The cool thing about playing outdoor shows is that all of them are all ages. For the past eight months we haven't been playing any, " said Burgundy. "It's pretty cool to have a bunch of little kids dancing. They're much more laid back and [it's] a fun atmosphere."
For more information about the Michael Wood band and for show dates, go to www.michaelwoodband.com
- By HANNAH CAWSEY