Concert raises $1,700 for Ashcroft Band and Boston Flats

<p>Leslie Alexander (centre) got a little help from some friends for a concert benefiting residents of the Ashcroft Indian Reserve and the Boston Flats Trailer Park. Photo: Barbara Roden.</p> -

Leslie Alexander (centre) got a little help from some friends for a concert benefiting residents of the Ashcroft Indian Reserve and the Boston Flats Trailer Park. Photo: Barbara Roden.

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Singer-songwriter Leslie Alexander—who lived in Ashcroft from 2007 to 2012—was back in town last week, and on September 9 performed at a fundraising concert organized by local resident John Kidder. The event—which Kidder and other volunteers put together in six days—raised more than $1,700, which will be split between the Ashcroft Indian Band and the Boston Flats relief fund.

A friend of Kidder's mentioned that Alexander—who last performed here in 2015 in a concert that raised more than $2,000 for Cache Creek flood relief—was in town, and said to Alexander that since she was in the area she should do a show to help those affected by the Elephant Hill wildfire.

"She said 'Ask John Kidder', and he picked up the ball," said Alexander. "He calls me the 'diva of disaster'. But I love coming back here."

Kidder says that it was something of a struggle to pull things together in such a short time. He had hoped to have a liquor licence and sell alcohol, as well as have a gaming licence for a 50/50 draw, under the auspices of the Winding Rivers Arts & Performance Society (WRAPS); but both processes were cumbersome ones, and he found out that WRAPS could not give money raised from those sources directly to the people at Boston Flats and the Ashcroft Reserve. In the end the concert went ahead as a private fundraiser, similar to the one Kidder's daughter Julia held in Vancouver in August, which benefited the Ashcroft Indian Band.

Some 50 people attended the concert, a low-key, informal affair with Alexander and other local singers and musicians using Kidder's back porch as a stage. Audience members sat on chairs, benches, and hammocks on the lawn of Kidder's house on the Bonaparte River as Alexander sang a mix of covers and original pieces. One of them was a song that "could only be about Ashcroft": a place where she could leave her doors unlocked and feel solid as a rock. "Walking in the hills above / Looking down on such a sweet old town," Alexander sang, ending the song by saying "Every time there's a disaster, I'll be back."

"It's a really nice gathering," said Kidder between sets. "Most of the people here are involved in the music or arts community in some way. There's something about music and art that brings people together. The family of people we have here is quite remarkable."

Alexander said that she hopes people affected by the wildfire are finding help in their adversity. She now lives in High River, Alberta, and saw at first hand the effects of devastating flooding there in 2013.

"I met some amazing people, and saw people do amazing things. Sometimes disasters bring out the best in people."

Barbara Roden

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