Friday 15 February 2013

February 20 concert: My chat with legendary drummer Jerry Mercer

Renowned Montreal musician, founder and director of the Montreal Jubilation Gospel Choir and MUHC cancer patient Trevor W. Payne is teaming up with the Cedars Cancer Institute once again to put on an unforgettable benefit concert to help the fight against men’s cancers.  A Night at the Music Hall will take place on Wednesday,  February 20 (7:30 p.m.)  at the Oscar Peterson Concert Hall at Concordia University’s Loyola Campus (7141 Sherbrooke West) and feature a fabulous lineup of local artists such as the Montreal Jubilation Gospel Choir Buzz Band, featuring Jerry Mercer and Breen LeBoeuf from April Wine and John McGale from Offenbach, 12-year-old piano sensation Daniel Clarke Bouchard  and other great acts

John McGale, Jerry Mercer and  Breen LeBouef

I caught up with legendary drummer Mercer last week over the phone . The Verdun native now resides near Kingston, in town called Bath. He spent 38 years with April Wine, leaving four years ago after locking heads with band mate Miles Goodwin. “There was a situation I could not resolve with Miles,” he said. “But two months ago they came to perform in Brockville, not far from where I live now. I said to my wife, ‘I have not seen them in four years. I’d like t o go.’ So we did. I did not advise them in advance I would be there. During the encore the drummer now in place called me to the stage. I went up and kept the vibe. It was okay. It was fun. The bottom line is that I love to play.”

The Buzz Band was actually started back in 1984. Both April Wine and Offenbach had ceased operations, albeit it turned out temporarily. Mercer, Leboeuf and McGale decided to come together and do some concerts. In 1990 they even produced an album. “What basically evolved was that the  Buzz Band would unite about once a year,” he explained. “We take a gig, which we’d never rehearse for. It just always worked out.”

Proceeds from the February 20 concert will go towards the Trevor W. Payne Men's Cancers Fund at the Cedars Cancer Institute as a means for Payne to give back to what he calls his “dream team” of medical professionals at the McGill University Health Centre (MUHC) who successfully treated his prostate cancer in 2009.

“I cannot thank the medical team at the MUHC enough for their kindness, support, and for helping me find the services I needed to help me get through that difficult time,” Payne said. “My goal is to help raise awareness about men’s cancers, which can sometimes be overlooked, and help other cancer patients have greater access to services and support to get them through it.”

This is a cause close to Mercer’s heart. “I had a serious case of prostate cancer 15 years ago,”  he says. “I did not get examined every year after I tumed 50.  When I was 58 they found it and I had quite a battle on my hands. Thank goodness the treatment worked. As for Trevor, the two of us go back a long way. We played R&B together for five years some time ago.”

Check out a Mercer drum solo below:

Dr. Armen Aprikian, chief of the MUHC’s Cancer Care Mission and the physician who personally treated Payne says, “A Night at the Music Hall will not only bring together a wide variety of musical talents, but it will bring the community together in support of a cause that touches so many men in our community. On behalf of the doctors, nurses, and other healthcare professionals at the MUHC, I can’t thank Trevor enough for his personal efforts to ensure our psychosocial experts have the resources they need to continue addressing the social, psychological, emotional, spiritual, quality-of-life and functional aspects of cancer.”

“Once again, Trevor is lending his good name and extraordinary talents to a cause that is very important not only to those of us here at the Cedars Cancer Institute, but to all men who have been and who will be faced with cancer,” said Bruce Shadeed, president of the Cedars Cancer Institute. “It is heartwarming to see Trevor take the compassion he received from the caring staff at the MUHC and continue to pay it forward many times over through his efforts in the battle against men’s cancers.”