Floyd Wiebe has staged eight rock concerts largely to prove drugs and music don't have to go hand in glove.
"Music is so synonymous with drugs. Why does that have to be?" asked Wiebe, who runs the TJ's Gift Foundation honouring his late son, Trevor, or TJ, who was murdered in 2003 by drug-dealing associates.
Wiebe's fourth Rockin' for Choices concert on Saturday, the first to be held at the open-air Lyric Theatre in Assiniboine Park, provided that alternative.
'It's going to be lots of fun but it's also going to be a lot of sorrow because it brings it back'
Great venue, great weather (during the day), great cause and pretty good music, although the string quartet performing classical music next door in the open courtyard of the Terrace in the Park Restaurant (at the Pavilion) might not agree. There were some noise complaints.
Nine bands performed, mostly youth bands playing just for a chance to perform, free of charge, in front of a live audience.
Musicians were required to sign pledge cards affirming opposition to drug use, and, at some point in their performance, make a personal statement to the crowd about drugs.
For Myles Erickson, 18, drummer for Kids On the Run, the words seemed to come easy. His mother's car was T-boned by a drunk driver running a red light. The drunk driver was unharmed but she has had to deal with chronic pain issues in her back, neck and jaw for the past 20 years. "My mom has to pay for that (bad choice by the drunk driver) every single day," he said.
Among other bands to perform was Recovered, a group of mid-30s musicians whose name addresses their recovery from substance abuse. The concert ran from noon to 9 p.m.
The message to youths is they have a choice when confronted by peer pressure to take drugs, Wiebe said.
While bands played, balloons tossed in the wind with TJ's image on them. "I tell you honestly when I saw TJ's face on the balloon, I started to cry," TJ's mother, Karen Wiebe, told the crowd.
"It's a mixed bag for us," she continued, speaking about the concert. "It's going to be lots of fun but it's also going to be a lot of sorrow because it brings it back."
TJ was using and dealing drugs and hanging out with other dealers. His murder was planned and executed by four people out of jealousy when TJ became involved in a love triangle.
The previous Rockin' for Choice concerts were held at the MTS Centre and were invitation-only, co-ordinated by local schools. Wiebe has also staged four Battle of the Bands concerts.
However, this was the first Rockin' for Choice concert open to the public and Wiebe confided to being worried about attendance. Crowd numbers were not yet available at press time.
The TJ's Gift Foundation paid for the event, including $3,500 to rent the Lyric and $4,000 for the jumbo screen to show a short video of TJ's life before each band performed. The TJ's Gift Foundation funds programs for youth drug awareness.
Other bands at the concert included the Betty Ford Trio, Black Hearted, Maxine Peters, the Remedies, Spicy Mojo, Steeplechaser, and Starry Skies Collide featuring Flo.