The Wildwood Productions Group, who have been producing concerts to financially support local community associations since 2012. Their upcoming production will feature the music of Pete Seeger, with proceeds going to support the proposed multi-functional Shuswap Performing Arts and Cultural Centre. (File photo)

Column: Wildwood Production prepares Pete Seeger tribute, fundraiser

Shuswap Passion by Jim Cooperman

Rehearsals are in full swing for Wildwood Production’s musical show, the seventh in its series.

This year’s event features the music of one of America’s favourite singer-songwriters, Pete Seeger, with all proceeds going to support the proposed multi-functional Shuswap Performing Arts and Cultural Centre.

Since the first production in 2012 dedicated to the centennial of famed folk artist Woody Guthrie, this ad-hoc group of dedicated volunteers has raised more than $16,000 for worthwhile local community causes.

Every community has its visionaries, people who think outside the box and use their creative energies to make a difference by initiating unique projects that improve the lives of many. Jake Jacobson is one of those people who, for the past 50 years, has contributed greatly to the arts and culture in the community, in addition to his work as a firefighter, fire-fighting instructor and many years ago his effort to open the first natural food store and the original Recycling Depot.

After Jake brought together many of his musical friends to produce the Woody Guthrie show that raised $1,600 for the local food banks, the group realized these shows should be a yearly event. Some 30 people are involved in each production. The shows consist of songs that are picked by the performers around a theme. There are no auditions or a stage director, as the performers coach each other and the shows develop organically. One of the highlights is when the audience sings along to some of the songs.

Read more: Friends unite to celebrate Joni Mitchell, raise funds for womens shelter

Read more: Musical journey celebrates Canada

The shows attract performers from throughout the Shuswap and from as far away as Armstrong. Audiences are always most appreciative given that for every one of the 21 shows to date, there has been a standing ovation. Another unique aspect of these productions is the ticket price, which is ‘pay what you can afford’. As Jake explains, “music belongs to everyone and no one should be excluded because of the price of a ticket.”

Other productions have featured Joni Mitchell, Anything Animals, Leonard Cohen, great Broadway show tunes and Canadian songs.

A key part of these musical productions is the music itself, as every show includes local musicians. One or more of the experienced members provides musical direction to ensure the production has the best sound quality possible.

When asked if perhaps one day the group might take on more, Jake shared his concept of a potential musical that the group could write and perform. Many years ago, before European settlers invaded Hawaii, Canadian geese landed there and took up residence. Thus, Canada could have a claim to the islands and perhaps Hawaii could be persuaded to switch allegiances, especially given the current political problems facing the U.S. now. It is a fun dream and could make for an enjoyable musical.

Mark your calendars for March 22, 23 & 24 to enjoy some of the finest music the Shuswap has to offer and sing along to “Where Have All the Flowers Gone,” “We Shall Overcome,” and many other songs Pete Seeger sang. Wildwood Productions will provide a wonderful musical smorgasbord to tempt your cultural palate and help raise funds for our community.


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