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This article was published 24/5/2012 (3275 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
Burton Cummings' mother Rhoda has had a stroke and it's very serious. Early this week, Cummings told CKY Reunion organizers he was regrettably backing off previous plans to come to Thursday night's event and entertain at Essence nightclub, as he needed to be at his mother's side here in Winnipeg. "She's an incredible mother -- a single mom who brought him up and gave her heart and soul. Her boy is her world and she is very frail," says CITI-FM walking rock encyclopedia Howard Mandshein on Thursday.
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KELVIN HIGH MUSIC BUZZ: People are expecting wild things from the Cast Iron Potty Band, now in their 50s, at the Kelvin High School 100th reunion this weekend. Insiders know the 1969-70 band the Froots of the Loom, with horrendous piano player Donald Benham, actually spawned the Cast Iron Potty Band.
"I was bad... really bad!" laughs the public education director of Winnipeg Harvest. "But we had fun."
Benham didn't make the step up to the new incarnation, but Froots members such as (now Vancouver PR guru) Fred Dawkins, who could play the jug, washboard, slide whistle and kazoo had cast-iron credentials. And Rob Deyman, who played banjo and guitar (and became a city planner in Kitchener, Ont.), was ready for the big time.
They joined guitar player Dick Moffat, who became a London, Ont., computer consultant, and Hugh Malcolmson, washtub bass player, now a longtime CITI-FM producer, to form the Cast Iron Potty Band. They opened the Winnipeg Folk Festival's Saturday-night lineup in 1974. The Potty Band plays a set in the Winnipeg Convention Centre music lineup Friday night and a longer gig for Kelvinites at Pop Soda's on Sunday from noon to 3 p.m.
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KELVIN ALUMNI: Talk about a who's who in town for the reunion: Philanthropist Gail Asper graduated from Kelvin, as did Susan Cadham Paradine, one of the original Dean Martin Gold Diggers. Singer Jane Dahl is on board, as is children's entertainer Fred Penner, singer/dancer Catherine Wreford Ledlow, politico John Orlikow, Peter George of McKim Cringan George, artist Dean Tweed and thousands of professionals and successful business types. Multiple generations of families are showing up together. For instance, Margi Knowles Plaxton, 69, just arrived from Keswick, Ont., to attend with her 90-year-old aunt, Donna (Dr. Patton) Friesen, from Winnipeg, and Margi's son, Bruce Plaxton, 41, the Kelvin hurdler who won the 110-metre high school provincial championship in the late 1980s and is now a chartered accountant in Kelowna, B.C.
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MOM & DAUGHTER'S HOSPITAL PROJECT: A new hospital in Kenya will save the lives of hundreds of mothers and children who might otherwise have died in childbirth. It was built thanks to two graduates of Kelvin High School -- Dr. Gail (Olenick) Wagner, hematologist/oncologist for Kaiser Permanente, one of the largest not-for-profit health plans in the United States, and her momma, Mindel (Rady) Olenick, now 87, are largely responsible. The hospital is in the town of Ukwala, about 30 kilometres from the Uganda border, in the same Siaya county as U.S. President Barack Obama's father. Obama's grandmother, Mama Sarah, is Wagner's "friend and my patient. She is a 91-year-old rock star."
Wagner, who lives in California, went to Kenya to visit her daughter, Laura, a PhD student. Laura introduced her to community organizer Daniel Ogola in Nairobi's Kibera slum in 2002. The two discussed a community health-care system in his impoverished rural home near Lake Victoria. The Tiba Foundation now helps support three outpatient clinics that treated 24,000 people in 2010. And the first phase of a planned full-service hospital, a quick-stay pediatric unit, opened in January. When Wagner needed money to build the hospital, she turned to her mother, Mindel. The class of 1941 valedictorian and University of Manitoba science grad says she was happy to be the major funder.
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BURNING DOWN THE HOUSE: Free Press reporter Bruce Owen's baby brother, Geoff, 46, recently escaped his burning suite in a McMillan Avenue house with "nothing but his glasses and his gitch," says Bruce. There's a hot benefit at the Pyramid on May 31 at 8 p.m. to help the musician, who lost absolutely everything. He even had to drop his precious keyboard to run up to the roof to escape and returned to see the fire site in his hospital booties.
"We're doing this because people want to help him get back on his feet and to celebrate the guy's still alive. If he didn't wake up when he did, we would have buried him already." And Bruce's classically trained bro can really "burn it" on stage. "My brother doesn't just dabble in Beethoven and Bach, he likes to rock!" says Bruce. Geoff's band, the Procrastinators, plus the sizzling Rod Hussey Review and Gerry Atwell (who's in six local bands) are welcoming jammers to join them. Among the silent auction gifts are music lessons from the Tauber Music School, where he works. For tickets, call Paul Edmond at 478-8500.
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Maureen Scurfield writes the Miss Lonelyhearts advice column.