Jaymz Bee's Caravan of Music Raises $25K for Unison, Gold Guitar String Bracelet Presented

By Karen Bliss 4/23/19 | www.samaritanmag.com

(L to R) Bill Bell, Mary Margaret O'Hara, Tom Cochrane, Damnhait Doyle, Andy Kim and Jim Cuddy at Jaymz Bee's Caravan of Music, Toronto's Old Mill — photo credit: Cassandra Popescu

Canada’s Unison Benevolent Fund presented Lorenzo Digianfelice from Vesuvius Music with its unique gold guitar string bracelet, as a thank you for donating $5000 towards the charity that offers emergency financial aid and 24/7 counselling services to musicians and members of the industry.

“It’s a great honour to be allowed to donate to this beautiful fund. I think it does great work. I encourage all of you to think about doing the same thing I have done,” said Digianfelice, who was given the bracelet onstage in Toronto at The Old Mill April 15, during the gala dinner portion of Jaymz Bee’s Caravan of Music, a charity night to celebrate his birthday.

Bee,  a partner in Vesuvius, is a radio host and artist,  who also leads “jazz safaris” in Toronto —  jazz crawls or intimate concerts around the city — came up with this cool room-around idea at the century-old venue where attendees went room-to-room to see a range of live music.

The earlier dinner in the banquet hall featured performances by such notable names as Tom Cochrane, Andy Kim, Damhnait Doyle, surprise guest Jim Cuddy, and Mary Margaret O’Hara (with brother Marcus on balloon).

“This is a cool thing about my birthday, that a few people have donated large money so all the musicians can get paid for being here, but every dollar from here goes to Unison,” said Bee, before inviting Digianfelice to the stage.

Photo provided by Unision Benevolent Fund.
“Last year, we came up with a very lovely idea, a gold guitar string bracelet and this bracelet is 14-karat gold wrapped guitar strings, and a gold lobster claw clasp,” explained executive director Amanda Power, giving one to him. “These bracelets — only a few of them have been made — and they are a gift with $5000 donation. So as part of that, you can become a member of the gold string club.”

There are currently 14 people who own a bracelet, including Digianfelice, Gary Slaight and his daughter, Ali; as well as Slaight artists Jessica Mitchell, Kayla Diamond, and Jillea. Another was gifted to Unison’s former executive director Sheila Hamilton. They are designed and created by Wear Your Music.

But the Caravan of Music wasn’t about big money. The night raised much of the $25,000 mostly from the affordable $40 post-dinner ticket.   Performers included Alex Pangman, Barbra Lica, Denielle Bassels,  Eric St-Laurent, John Finley, Lily Frost, Ron Davis, Joe Sealy, Nancy Walke, Bill King, Adrean Farrugia, Robert Scott,  George Koller, Michael Dunston, Ted Quinlan, Daniel Barnes, Bill McBirnie, Bernie Senensky, Melissa Lauren, Nathan Hiltz, Big Rude Jake, Joe Hash, Marie Goudy, Jocelyn Barth, Heather Luckhart, Attila Fias and Lisa Particelli.

Slaight Music’s Derrick Ross,  chairman of the Unison, said, “For those who may not know exactly what it is, it’s a fund helping people in the music community in emergency need — musicians, soundman, label people, anybody who has worked in the music, entertainment business in Canada for more than two years can register and get emergency help.

“We cover rent, mortgage, dentist, food. Emergency help,” he added. “We’re not paying monthly, but if you have an issue, like you need rent paid for three months because you can’t make ends meet, we help you do that. We also help with mental illness, which is a huge issue for us. Our budget for that this year, there is so much demand, which means we are connecting with people and we are raising more funds all the time. We have three golf tournaments. We do a schmoozefest. And this event should build out to be a great event…this is something that we can really build on.”

Guitarist Bill Bell, who was musical director for the gala dinner portion, and accompanying the performers, can vouch for the fund’s efficacy, discretion and swift response.

“I am one of the beneficiaries of Unison’s good will. I went through a really tough time and I reached out and Unison got me in therapy, which was what I needed, and a year later, I’ll tell ya, what a difference a year makes. I feel goooooood,” he said onstage, before getting to the stats.

“Unison so far has helped over 650 music industry professionals across Canada. Just in 2019 alone, we’re at 50 percent of what 2018 was doing so all your donations and all the good work that everybody here is doing for Unison is going to an incredible cause, helping musicians across Canada and their families, and tour managers, managers, the whole music community benefits. So it’s great, just looking out for our own and just helping music in general.”

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* Samaritanmag.com is an online magazine covering the good deeds of individuals, charities and businesses.