By work day, Jim Harmon is a Managing Partner at Boyden Canada, an executive search firm. By weekend, he’s the leader of the Dead Pennies, a local Ottawa band. To Rideauwood Addiction and Family Services, he is the initiator of a major fundraising event to support people struggling with substance use, addiction and related mental health issues.
It all starts with the music. Jim explains that there is a subculture in Ottawa of business leaders who are also musicians, talented enough that they could have chosen music as a career path. “Instead, we’re in local bands – we’re in it for the music not the business.” Jim’s band, The Dead Pennies (everyone in the group is 49 years old and up… and remember when the penny retired back in 2013?), performs at local bars, weddings, and other private functions.
While Jim says it’s not a new concept, it’s not one he has seen in Ottawa before: bring “business bands” together to put on a concert in support of a good cause. No one missed a beat. Kevin Ford (CEO of Calian) with his band the Sons of Buckingham; John Jastremski (CEO of MDS Aero Support) with Faux Confessions; and John Sicard (CEO of Kinaxis) of Open Channel D all said yes to Jim’s proposal – especially when they heard that the cause was to be Rideauwood Addiction and Family Services.
Rideauwood Executive Director Johanne Levesque was thrilled when Jim approached her about fundraising on behalf of the organization. Building a community that bands together to help people struggling with addiction is something she believes is important. “There is a lot of stigma that surrounds addiction, so it’s very meaningful when local business leaders stand up to that stigma by supporting an organization like Rideauwood.” And thus, Rideauwood Bands Together was born.
Jim was confident that the business community would welcome a fundraiser that they didn’t feel obliged to attend, but would want to attend. It would just be a fun night out with friends and a great concert. And was he ever right: within six hours, the sponsorship slots were filled! It didn’t take long for the 300 concert tickets to sell either.
“There are a lot of corporate people who are grateful to Rideauwood for all the good the organization does. Rideauwood Bands Together is a channel to express that gratitude. The generosity from the band leaders and sponsors has been incredible.”
Even with the pandemic causing the postponement of the concert that was originally planned for April 3, 2020, Jim remains optimistic. When it’s safe to do so, the event will be rescheduled. Ticketholders still have their tickets and sponsors are still keen. “Many people I’ve talked with tell me that going out and live music are what they’re missing the most with the pandemic. So when the day comes that we can put on our leather jackets and come together to rock out, it’s really going to be something!”
JUNE 2022 UPDATE:
The concert has been rescheduled for Friday, June 24, 2022. Click here to purchase tickets.