As Friday night’s tornado tore through parts of Ottawa, it looked like the annual rock concert for the Ottawa Food Bank was going to become an acoustic by candlelight show. Or, cancelled all together.
Yet, Rockable Hours was unaffected by the widespread power outage, allowing for local lawyers and law students to take to the stage at Babylon nightclub on Bank Street.
Returning to organize the benefit was Albert Chang, corporate counsel for the Canadian Internet Registration Authority, while lawyer Katie Black, a partner at CazaSaikaley, emceed.
Rockable Hours has cumulatively raised more than $25,000 for the Food Bank since Chang, who's also a musician, founded the event in 2014. Some may remember its precursor, Lawzfest, held by the legal community at the now-closed Capital Music Hall.
“It’s always important to give but this is different from just giving a cheque. It’s about coming out and having fun and raising money and awareness for the Ottawa Food Bank,” Chang told OBJ.social.
Every dollar raised for the charitable organization can be turned into $5 worth of food because of the Food Bank's industry partnerships and bulk purchasing power, he noted.
The musical lawyers stopped short of smashing their guitars on stage or diving head first into the audience but they did add tremendous energy and excitement to the night.
“We’re not all stodgy fuddy-duddies,” joked seasoned bass player Benoit Duchesne, a civil and commercial litigator at Gowling WLG. “We have emotional content. We know how to have fun.”
Duchesne played alongside lawyers from two other high-profile firms: Nelligan O’Brien Payne LLP and Perley-Robertson, Hill & McDougall LLP. They called themselves The New Originals.
More than 250 tickets were sold and the place was packed. Many of the clubgoers were lawyers, young associates and University of Ottawa law students.
“It’s really important for us to give and contribute whichever way we can,” said Duchesne, who is a recorded jazz musician and former board member with Ottawa JazzFest. “If it’s doing something that’s fun, like playing music for a good cause to raise money, then I’m in.”
One of his bandmates was Martin St-Onge, a commercial real estate lawyer at Perley-Robertson, Hill & McDougall and a 2015 Forty Under 40 recipient. He was raised in a musical family in the Greater Sudbury community of Chelmsford. He kept it up in high school, undergrad and law school. “Music was sort of my thing growing up,” he said. “I play less now because I have young children and a busy career but I still love to play at events like this.”
He, too, stressed the need for the legal community to get involved in charity work. “I certainly wasn’t rich growing up, so I can appreciate that some people need the help. It’s nice to give back and help out," said St-Onge.
The New Originals also included Andrew Lenz (Perley-Robertson, Hill & McDougall) on guitar, Sean McGee (Nelligan O’Brien Payne) on keyboard, and Steve Waller (recently retired from Nelligan O’Brien Payne) on drums.
Lateby10 from the Office of the Judge Advocate General (JAG) featured a dark sunglasses-wearing Clark Colwell on vocals, Vihar Joshi on drums, Dave Sinclair on bass and civilian scientist James Gupta on guitar.
From the uOttawa law school, there were Section 2 and the Subclauses, consisting of Emilie Scott, Ashley Moniz and Kevin Wilcox, and Style of Cause made up of Klara Danielson, Donny Jackson, Alex Niro, Mike Saad, Kevin Dias and Nick Twarog.