The rain was pouring, but the music kept on playing.
Hundreds of fans were in attendance for the the inaugural Music in the Hills Concert at the Mansfield Ski Club in Mulmur on Friday (June 25).
The drive-in concert, which sold out in five days, was started by the Suicide Awareness Council of Wellington-Dufferin in partnership with Go With Crowe Real Estate. The event helped raise more than $11,000 for suicide prevention and awareness initiatives within the community.
“It’s just incredible, the way the community has pulled together,” said Claire Knight, who sits on the Suicide Awareness Council and helped organize the local concert.
Despite the on-and-off rainy weather, concert goers sat in their parked cars listening to the music, and showing support to the performers throughout the night by honking their car horns and flashing their lights.
“We’re just excited about being out with our community and listening to great music of course,” said local concert attendee, Jill Johnson. “After we’ve all been locked down for so long it’s a pleasure to be here. We know that a lot of people have had a lot of challenges through these times and to be raising money for suicide awareness is incredibly important at this time.”
This year’s lineup included Juno-award-winning musician Jim Cuddy and his band The Jim Cuddy Trio as well as musician Woody Woodburn and local singer-songwriter Sohayla Smith.
For mother-daughter duo, Shelley and Tausha Hanna, the drive-in concert was a first.
“You’re really feeling the sense of the community coming together at an event like this, and everybody’s really happy to be here. There’s just a sense that we’re doing something, and it’s great that they’re able bring people out and start a show like this. Hopefully they do future shows,” said Shelley.
“We’re very excited to see Jim Cuddy, we love Blue Rodeo, we used to see him at Massey Hall all the time,” said Tausha.
Shelburne local Sohayla Smith, accompanied by Tyler Reed and Adrian Smith, opened the concert singing a mix of Americana, blues and country songs including “Die Trying”, “This Is Who I Am”, and “Ten Steps Back”.
Smith said the concert was their first back since December.
“Despite the weather, it’s really exciting to be able to play. It’s been such as hard time for everybody that we need this, it’s about time that we can do this again and I’m really glad that I get to be a part of it,” said Smith.
Smith also shared a personal message for those who may be struggle with mental health or know someone who is.
“If there’s ever anybody out there in Dufferin County, or Wellington County who feels like the world will be better off without them – they are wrong,” said Smith.
Headlining the 2021 Music in the Hills concert was The Jim Cuddy Trio – featuring Ann Lindsay, Colin Cripps, and Jim Cuddy of Blue Rodeo- who sang songs from “Where You Gonna Run”, “Bad Timing”, and “I’ll Make Believe It’s You” to “5 Days in May”, “Glorious Day”, and new single “Good News”.
Ahead of his appearance on stage, Cuddy spoke with the Free Press about performing at the drive-in, in Mulmur.
“It feels fantastic because it’s been so long since we’ve been performing. I like drive-ins, they’re a lot of fun and they’re always unique.”
Cuddy noted the difficulties faced throughout the year, the additional pressure placed on those facing mental health issues and lending his support to a cause such as suicide awareness
“It’s great for me to do something that’s in the neighborhood, I’ve done a number of other things in the area for different causes, and it always feels like I’m doing the right thing for someplace that I love. If you can play music and do some good there’s no reason to not do it. You sort of have a responsibility to lend your music to whatever you think is worthwhile.”
According to Crisis Services Canada an average of 11 people die a day by suicide in Canada, approximately 4,000 people die each year and there is an average of 275 attempted suicides every day.
Paula Brown, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Shelburne Free Press