Shelter from the Storm
Shelter From The Storm documents a groundbreaking and socially significant storytelling initiative at Canada’s largest homeless serving agency — the Calgary Drop-In & Rehab Centre.
What happens when members of Calgary’s homeless community are given the tools to share their stories through song and spoken word? This observational film project is a rare glimpse at humanity finding a universal home in the vulnerability of songwriting. It invites viewers on a voyage of connection, contemplation and empowerment — from the very first workshop to a grand showcase concert on June 24 & 25, 2016 at the John Dutton Theatre.
Together, we can end homelessness.
To make this project possible, we have brought together a unique group of men and women from different disciplines, different backgrounds, and different walks of life. Each of them united in a common purpose and working toward a noble goal. They are clients, staff and volunteers.
Jess Smith – Songwriter
Self-proclaimed Urban Flower Child, Jess is inspired by the contrasts of light & dark, natural & urban, hippies & gangsters.
The music she creates is a blend of soul & folk. Taking notes from artists such as Sarah McLachlan & Lauryn Hill, her sound is uniquely its own.
Jess was raised in the woods of Calahoo, Alberta. At the age of 22, the ocean was calling her so she moved to Vancouver, British Columbia.
She has found the best of both worlds where she currently lives in Calgary, Alberta. Her upbringing and lifestyle have had a direct impact on her art. Her music is both based on personal experience and is her vehicle for experiencing the depth of her Imagination.
Ultimately, Jess says, her creations reflect the essence of who she is.
Lenny Howell – Songwriter
Music has always been a staple in Lenny Howell’s life. Raised on his father’s collection of Jim Reeves and Patsy Cline albums, he picked up his first guitar at the age of seven. And living with a long line of “pickers and grinners” meant he never had a shortage of people to jam with. Lenny spent most of his formative years playing everything from country to rock and roll in his parent’s farmhouse, alongside his older brothers.
He learned to play quickly. By the age of twelve, when he was still in primary school, Lenny played his first show – a high school dance. That lit a flame inside of him that’s been burning strong ever since. By eighteen, he turned pro and started playing shows across Canada.
Lenny considers himself privileged to have been mentored by Ida Banks and managed by her Western Canada Talent Agency early in his career. With her guidance he was fortunate to play alongside the likes of Valdy, Murray McLauchlan and numerous other notable Canadian singer/songwriters. Upon meeting Miles Jackson from Ma-Me-O Recording studios in 2004, the two worked together on Lenny’s debut album which was released in 2010. He followed up that release with a cross-country touring schedule, promoted by Angel Records, which wrapped up in 2012.
He is currently working on writing and recording his sophomore album, which he hopes to have recorded and released soon.
Mariya Stokes – Songwriter
Mariya Stokes is a singer/songwriter based in Calgary, Alberta. She is a is a storyteller whose catchy hooks, country folk style and Alberta roots make her music warm, inviting, and engaging. She enjoys her career as a professional recording and touring artist and full time vocal coach. Music, she says, is her life.
Mariya has created lasting memories as a performer at venues such as the Canadian Country Music Weekend in Fort Macleod, the Ivan Daines Country Music Piknik, Calgary’s own Sled Island festival, and countless cowboy poetry gatherings across Alberta. This finalist from the 2013 Calgary Stampede Talent Search, and winner of the 2011 Ponoka Stampede Talent Search, she is often found performing tunes featured on her debut self-titled album at shows that appeal to anyone interested in stories about the misadventures of growing up in a rural Southern Alberta community.
Mariya Stokes is a member of Revv52, a Calgary-based performance ensemble that entertains, inspires and energizes its audiences with original productions of the most important and beloved songs in popular music.
Perry Wilson – Songwriter
Perry Wilson is a seasoned veteran of the Calgary music scene. He performs regularly with his band, Blue Plate Special, is a dedicated and loved regular on the local busking circuit, and continues to play throughout the local bar/pub circuit. Perry recently received notoriety after being featured on a segment of CBC’s This is My City.
Perry first picked up a guitar at age twelve. He has been using it to entertain crowds and hone his old-school country sound ever since. Mentored by a beloved high school band teacher and inspired by the likes of the SunnDance Saddle Co. – their leader Don Yuzwak in particular – Perry’s name has become synonymous with grassroots, classic tunes made popular by the likes of Roy Orbison, Roger Miller and Tim Williams.
But perhaps his most inspiring work comes from his journey through 15 years of homelessness. His resilience won’t allow that to spoil his spirit. Though he spends his nights at the Calgary Drop-In Centre, Perry’s days are filled and fulfilled by spreading joy down city streets, belting out old favorites through the filters of his own lens, and entertaining the nostalgic requests of passersby.
A faithful Artist-in-Residence on the Calgary Drop-In Centre’s “ArtBeat Stage”, his enthusiastic, heartfelt performances never disappoint. Perry is a favorite among clients, and his magnetic stage presence always manages to secure new fans each and every time he strums a tune.
Jordan Williams – Songwriter
Jordan Williams, known professionally as “Kid Mufasa”, was born in Calgary and raised in Blairmore, Alberta.
Jordan started playing an old electric guitar at the age of 15 that was sold to him by his best friend, now brother in-law, for $50. This is where his unbridled passion for music began. He sang and wrote songs about love, broken hearts and second chances. He performed at many of Calgary’s music venues with a number of different bands. Things were going well, until they weren’t.
He pushed away loved ones. He quit his job. He became homeless. And then he went back to the drawing board.
With an expired ID, a backpack full of clothes, and a dream, Jordan arrived at the Calgary Drop-In Centre.
Now his dreams are louder than ever. Now he sees opportunity, love, and positivity everywhere. Now he’s pursuing his passion for music with more energy and enthusiasm than he ever has. Jordan is forging ahead with a newfound sense of passion and purpose and he’s not going to give up until he sees his dream come true.
Kid Mufasa performed at the 2015 Sled Island Music Festival and is releasing his debut album in 2016.
Christian Hudson – Songwriter
Christian Hudson is an Airdrie born singer-songwriter who rose to public fanfare when he won the 2015 Calgary Stampede Talent Search. After receiving the $10,000 cash prize, he shocked the crowd and people across Canada when he announced he was donating the money to the Calgary Drop-In Centre.
Since then, Christian has won several local awards for his music and philanthropy. He continues to perform at venues around Calgary and southern Alberta and has been working on writing new original songs. He looks forward to returning to the Stampede again in 2016 where he has been invited to perform on the world-famous Coca Cola Stage.
With modesty and a bit of a glint in his eye, Christian just wants the world to know he’s a pretty average guy with a guitar and passion for playing music.
Tyler Wilson – Songwriter
Tyler Wilson is an Adult Care Worker at the Calgary Drop-In & Rehab Centre. He has a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology, where he focused his studies primarily on homelessness, as well as the the structural causes of poverty and class difference.
Tyler has traveled throughout North America and Europe, touring with his past and present bands, “Unfun”, “Sabertooth”, and “Empty Heads” (with whom he is currently an active member).
Finding a bridge between Music and Social work has always been a dream for Tyler, which was perfect when the offer was extended for this project. In the future Tyler hopes to continue to tour the world with his music, eventually receive a Masters in Social Work, and continue to help people anyway he can.
Kris Demeanor – Songwriter
Kris Demeanor was born in Calgary, Alberta, Canada right about the time of the first moon landing, the son of a Swedish beauty queen and a German General Proficiency award winner. He’s a songwriter and performer who writes and sings about the funny, dark, absurd, maddening, and the joyful for people who like to think, dance, laugh, cry and party.
Kris has put out six CDs of original music, a couple of award winning videos, created and performed for the theatre, and toured clubs and folk festivals around Canada, Australia and Europe, both solo and with his Crack Band.
His music draws on classic folk story telling, spoken word/rap, and shamelessly hooky pop, which both complicates things for all involved and makes them more interesting.
Kris loves his fellow Canadian songwriters, and has toured and recorded with the likes of Geoff Berner, Carolyn Mark, Nathan, Ford Pier, Dave Lang, Veda Hille, Wendy McNeill and Kim Barlow.
Trevor Williams – Songwriter
Trevor Williams currently works as an Adult Care Worker at the Calgary Drop-In Centre, Canada’s largest Homeless-serving agency. He is educated in Biblical Studies and Behavioral Sciences.
He is an internationally published poet within the collection, “Learning to Love” and also has a research-narrative paper titled “Our Shared Space and Threat Without Exit,” in The International Journal of Undergraduate Research and Activities from the University of Portland. As an artist, his focus is on writing and poetry.
He has been involved in various collaboration renditions, including a cello-slam-poetry fusion. For “Shelter from the Storm”, he is an integral part of the unfolding and uniting creative vision that flows forth from clients, volunteers and staff of the Calgary Drop-In Centre.
Trevor passionately believes that creativity is an essential element in the human experience, that it can help heal, redeem, and inspire meaning for people in the midst of life’s most painful moments. Rely on Trevor for a smile, for warmth, and for the most genuine efforts to make the world a better place.
Pierre LaRochelle – Songwriter
Chef, Massage Therapist, Guitarist, Vocalist, Son, Brother, Father. Pierre has been busking throughout North America for the past 40 years – from Old Montreal, to Vancouver’s Gastown, Santa Monica Pier, Venice Beach and more.
Battling with many serious health issues of late – including a torn lumbar, basal cell cancer, osteoporosis, and hypertension – music has given Pierre an outlet to focus on his long journey to personal recovery.
He began playing classical guitar in his early teens, at the height of the rock and roll revolution. Influenced by The Beatles, Led Zeppelin, and Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young – growing up in a bilingual city, his musical inspiration has come from both Anglophone and Francophone greats alike.
Pierre is also a former professional ballroom and Latin dancer. And to that he owes his ability to count and properly understand the structure of music, which he plays by ear.
To his mom, he owes his ability to speak, write and sing in English. His fondest memories include sitting with her over late afternoons after school and listening to records by Etta James, Ella Fitzgerald, Louis Armstrong, Nat King Cole, and Cole Porter.
Music, Pierre says, has kept him alive, heart, mind and soul through many of life’s obstacles.
Michael Frisby – Project Manager / Songwriter
Michael is the Manager of Internal Relations and Volunteer Services at the Calgary Drop-In & Rehab Centre. Prior to his time at the DI, Michael was a teacher, and subsequently founded Original Medicine Productions.
A devout believer that human creativity and arts-based experiences have the power to soothe the soul, Michael spent years as a “creativity consultant” and team-building facilitator. Using music, wordplay, and other art forms, he served diverse clients across North America, including Cirque du Soleil, The Philadelphia Flyers Hockey Club, and the Calgary Board of Education. Michael has supported youth in addictions treatment, built cultural programs for at-risk children, and helped rebuild shattered spirits in a remote aboriginal community before arriving at the Calgary Drop-In Centre in 2009.
As an award winning songwriter and recording artist, this “Shelter From the Storm” project has been a dream-in-the-making since Michael first began working with The DI’s vulnerable people. He firmly believes that this project is a powerful way to provide creative nourishment for a community that needs it most, and raise awareness in the greater community.
Cort Bulloch – Production Coordinator
Cort Bulloch is a singer/songwriter and poet living in Calgary. He is an established performer, sings tenor, and is a soloist in the acclaimed choir, Revv52. For fun, he leaves indelible memories on countless musical theatre enthusiasts as a singer/actor. Cort has released two independent country music albums, one of which won local songwriting competitions.
He has been published in poetry anthologies, he has taken his original music across North America, and every day, Cort promotes kindness, cultivates love, and sparks hope in the homeless people and selfless volunteers he works with at the Calgary Drop-In and Rehab Centre, Canada’s largest homeless-serving agency.
JK Burns (Burnsy) – Drums
As a plucky drifter in the late 1970s, the future seemed eerily uncertain for this impestuous free spirit. Brimming with wide-eyed optimism but no viable career path or conceivable prospects of any kind, a life-altering moment happened while viewing the iconic rock documentary Spinal Tap. This compelling “behind-the-scenes” examination of a ragtag group of modestly skilled musicians was indeed inspiring, especially in light of their unwavering passion for the music, even when besieged by a series of pitfalls that threatened the very survival of their artistic vision. The visceral impact of that impassioned perseverance spoke to Burnsy, and it was then that he decided making music was something he had to do, against all odds .. which in his case was a complete lack of musical training, no real musical background of any kind, in fact not a shred of musical ability whatsoever … leaving him no choice but to become a Drummer.
It wasn’t until a year or so later that he discovered Spinal Tap wasn’t a real documentary at all, but rather a mock-umentary, directed by the guy who played meathead on that incredibly racist sitcom All In The Family. And apparently those weren’t real musicians either … but no matter. By that time, his destiny was firmly set into motion, to the point where he’d even come to the stark realization that he’d likely have to work in a music store the rest of his life.
And even now, decades later, as he find himself retreating into the mind-numbing mediocrity of endless open-mics and weekend blues-jams, with the pale resignation of an aging dreamer now sporting a skullet, joining yet another cover band that insists on playing Brown Eyed Girl because “it’s a great song and people love it” … one thing still remains true, enduring and resolute.
It’s all about the music, man.
Greg Wolfe – Bass / Banjo
Bio coming soon.
Steve Dierkens – Producer / Recording Engineer
Steve is a Los Angeles native who has been living and working in Canada for the past 8 years. In LA Steve worked on many film and TV projects as an audio producer for companies like Disney, Warner Bros, Dreamworks, and Fox. Throughout that time Steve maintained a commercial studio facility as well, and there he found his love for producing and recording independent artists. Steve has recently opened a world-class facility in Calgary (www.sdrecording.com) and is now focused solely on recording and producing local independent artists.