Amos Garrett: 71-Year-Old Musician Gets Outpouring of Help After Flood

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The music community is coming to the aid of 71-year-old revered guitarist Amos Garrett who lost everything when his house filled with seven feet of water during the Alberta floods in June. Repairs are expected to reach six figures.

“Amos' house is in one of the worst hit areas of High River,” music publicist Richard Flohil — who has organized a fundraising concert for him at Toronto’s Hugh’s Room tomorrow night (Wed. Aug. 14) — tells Samaritanmag.

“It will be some months before he can live there again, but it will be fixed. A 71-year-old musician, however good his work and however star-packed his resume, finds a disaster like this incredibly difficult.”

Monica Black of Meet Your Music has opened an in-trust account with ATB Financial as well as a PayPal account to help with the flood relief for Garrett (go here for the information). There have also been a number of fundraising events taking place across Canada, in Ottawa, Calgary, and a big one set for Edmonton in September.

Garrett, who holds dual American-Canadian citizenship, has recorded with more than 150 artists, including Stevie Wonder, Todd Rundgren, Bonnie Raitt and Emmylou Harris. That’s his guitar solo on Maria Muldaur’s “Midnight at the Oasis” and he can be heard on Anne Murray’s hit “Snowbird.” He also played trombone on Jerry Garcia’s “Russian Lullaby” and “What Goes Around.”

Garrett has also released several solo albums on Edmonton-based record label Stony Plain, including the newly released JazzBlues.

Flohil was just in Alberta over the weekend, attending the folk festivals, and spent some time with Garrett, a friend for 40 years. He found out more details on the extent of the damage at his house, the kind of insurance coverage he has and the assistance Alberta government is offering. It won’t be enough to get everything back to normal.

“He has very limited insurance — none for flooding, some for ‘sewer backup,’” Flohil relays. “He lost a couple of guitars, all his fishing gear — and his friends know what a disaster that is — and a great deal of memorabilia, and, of course, the house itself needs extensive repair. Apart from that, there’s the process of removing mould — and Amos is allergic to that, and has respiratory difficulties anyway.”

To make matters worse, his wife Denise lost her job — 40 percent of the family income, says Flohil — when her employer's business was, “literally, washed away.”

The bill at Hugh’s Room — which has hosted shows by Garrett a number of occasions — features Luke Doucet (of Whitehorse), Kevin Breit, Russell deCarle (of Prairie Oyster), Chris Whiteley & Diana Braithwaite with U.K. pianist Ben Waters (whose latest album features all four members of the Rolling Stones), Ariana and David Gillis, and Michael Laderoute.

The show starts at 8:30 p.m.; tickets are $25 in advance; $27.50 at the door. Dinner reservations are recommended. Call 416 531 6604.

Garrett is enormously grateful for the support he has been getting. "I guess all these years of playing the best I can has given me friends on both sides of the thousands of stages I've played on,” the musician says. “I just want to get this chapter of my life over and done, so that Denise and I will be able to move on."



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