Last Thursday I made my way to the Junction for the first night of the CHR for Women Benefit Concert Series. CHR for Women is the latest project spearheaded by Toronto indie-folk band Crooked House Road. On the last Thursday of February, March, and April 2015, Crooked House Road is performing songs from their upcoming debut album to raise support and awareness for women's charities. Each month also features a different line-up of local bands to open and close the evening so that returning fans are guaranteed a unique show every night. Tickets are Pay-What-You-Can and 100% of the proceeds go directly to a women's charity.
Last week's first instalment featured Bryn of Taylor & Bryn, Jane's Party, and, of course, Crooked House Road. All proceeds from the evening were donated to The Redwood: a shelter for women and children who've left abusive situations.
It's a night of great music in support of a great cause. If you're a fan of indie folk with soulful melodies and rich harmonies you're definitely going to become an instant fan of Crooked House Road. After hearing just one song I was ready to buy their whole album. Turns out I'll have to wait for their CD release party at the Cadillac Lounge on May 23; so, in the meantime, I'll be in the front row for the rest of their benefit concert series.
The next night of CHR for Women is Thursday March 26; Simeon Ross and the Heavyweights Brass Band will join Crooked House Road in support of Sistering, an organization serving homeless, marginalized, and low-income women right here in Toronto. On Thursday April 30, the final night of the series will benefit The Stop Community Food Centre and feature Georgian Bay, Horsey Craze, and Crooked House Road. The doors at 3030 Dundas West will open for both shows at 9:00pm.
After the show I caught up with Crooked House Road singer Shaina Silver-Baird to chat about the inspiration behind CHR for Women.
"The idea first came from our manager Josh Van Altenberg who organized benefit concerts in university to great success with his company Decent Exposure. It was something he was passionate about and wanted to do again and I was totally on board.
As an artist it’s easy to get caught up in your own little world. As much as it’s about the art, it’s also about marketing and selling your brand, and constantly broadcasting to the world what you are doing. I was getting tired of it, and I wanted to do something more. I wanted to use the work I was doing to benefit a cause that I was passionate about. Growing up in a family of strong feminist women and men made me very aware of the challenges women face in this world."
Shaina also spoke about the importance of activism and charity work here at home.
"We thought about helping women abroad, but then we stopped ourselves. There are women in our own neighbourhood who desperately need help. So we chose local charities that make a real difference in our own communities. I think there’s something really special about coming together as a community to help our own community. We’re saying: 'the problems aren’t only over there on the other side of an ocean. There are women suffering from poverty and abuse in our own backyards and we’re not going to turn a blind eye. We’re going to acknowledge it and we’re going to try to do something about it.' "
Since the first charity show in February, the word has gotten out and is generating a lot of buzz in the lead-up to the next two events.
"The response from audience members and musicians alike has been amazing. I’m humbled by the truly fantastic artists that are giving their time to these concerts, and the audience members who come out and spread the word," said Shaina. "It’s really hard work producing something like this (I turned around and realized we were producing a 3 day music festival) but it’s totally worth it. So many people at the Feb. 26 concert had never heard about The Redwood and the amazing work they do to help abused women and children. Getting the word out there about their organization was a success in itself."
CHR for Women encourages people to support important issues in our city by giving them a fun evening of good music and a chance to get introduced to some new local talent.
"We want our audience to have a fun, amazing night listening to the best of local music," said Shaina. "We’ve carefully curated each night to feature some of our favourite local acts and we want to share that music with the audience. These events are exciting because they are really a celebration of local music and local charities. We’re building our community."
If you make it out to one of their upcoming shows, Crooked House Road would love to hear from you! Facebook or Tweet @CrookedHouseRd with the hashtag #CHR4Women to share what you thought of the bands, the charities, or to share your own stories and artwork.
For more information visit www.crookedhouseroad.com