Watching his grandfather and uncle succumb to cancer, Jace Martin knew he had to do something to make a difference in the world.
“My grandpa, Ross Powless, is considered the Wayne Gretzky of lacrosse and my uncle, Gaylord Powless, was a prominent hall of fame lacrosse player,” Martin said. “To see such strong men like them die of cancer, it hits your family.
“You see the toll it takes on the family and the lasting effects, so I want to do whatever we can to educate young kids on how they can prevent that from happening.”
So six years ago, Martin turned to his passion as a musician to get that point across.
The sixth annual Concert for a Cure, taking place Aug. 17 at Hank’s Place in Ohsweken, brings together hit makers and emerging local talent to perform a free concert, while raising awareness about cancer and prevention strategies.
“Music is something that brings everyone together and if you have all different types of musicians, you are getting that message out to all different groups at once,” Martin said. “It’s a free family festival open to everyone and we have all kinds of genres of music – country, bluegrass, hip hop, R&B, rock and blues.
“We have great artists who are great on stage and great with interaction with fans.”
Canadian Country Music Award winner and Nashville recording star Shane Yellowbird will headline the event. Known for his hit song Pickup Truck, the Alberta native has also taken home hardware at the Native American Music Awards and the Aboriginal People’s Choice Awards. He’s also taken the stage at the Grand Ole Opry.
2013 Ontario Country Music Award rising star Lindsay Broughton and 2013 Juno Award winner Murray Porter will open for Yellowbird.
Local acts Mark Laforme, Jace Martin, Red Laforme, Innersha, The Bad Guys and Logan Staats are also scheduled to take the stage during the concert, which runs from noon until 8 p.m.
In between sets, organizers will present the latest statistics released by Aboriginal Cancer Care Ontario and offer tips to concert goers about what they can do to live healthy and give themselves the best fighting chance against cancer.
“The only cure right now is preventative measures and that’s what we focus on,” Martin said. “Don’t smoke, eat right – we share those messages in between bands and it’s a great way to learn and be inspired.”
Concert goers are encouraged to donate to their favourite cancer charity or volunteer their time at their charity of choice after the show, Martin said.
In addition to music, the drug and alcohol-free event will include bouncy rides for kids, meet and greets with musicians, as well as many food and craft vendors.
On top of raising awareness about cancer and prevention strategies, Concert for a Cure aims to bring people together, Martin said.
“This concert is important,” he said. “It impacts our reserve, our tourism and the relationships we are trying to build all around us after all the craziness with land claims.
“This concert brings people from Hagersville, Caledonia and Brantford and lets us all be united and enjoy music. We bring everyone together for a good cause and that’s what it’s all about.”