Monday, 30 January 2017 08:00

Annual Songs for Ken set for Feb. 11 at the Empress Theatre in Fort Macleod

Written by  Stephanie Labbe
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In two years, a Fort Macleod event has raised roughly $20,000 for the ALS Society of Alberta and organizers hope to increase that amount this year.
The third annual Songs for Ken is a fundraiser for ALS that features Fort Macleod singer songwriter John Wort Hannam and four other Alberta artists.

It will take place at Fort Macleod’s  Empress Theatre Feb. 11 starting at 7:30 p.m. The other musical talent will be The PolyJesters, Brooke Wylie, Tanner James, Maureen Chambers and The Sadlier Brown Band.
In 2011, Wort Hannam’s best friend Ken Rouleau was diagnosed with ALS and 13 months later he passed away. ALS or Amyotrophic Lateral
Sclerosis — also known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease — is a neurodegenerative condition.
After his passing, Wort Hannam decided he wanted to find a way to honour their friendship and his memory while raising money for ALS. He started by getting some of his musical friends together and it’s grown since then.
“To be honest, I thought the first one was going to be a one off … I thought … sort of that was it … I had done my part,” says Wort Hannam.
As soon as the first event concluded, people asked Wort Hannam if he was going to do the event again the following year. He decided this will probably be an annual event until he can’t do it anymore.
With this the third year, Wort Hannam says it feels like they’re starting to get a handle on the planning. It’s gotten a little bit easier over the three years.
“I keep trying to think about, how … can we raise more money,” adds Wort Hannam.
The first year there was just the one sold out show in Fort Macleod. Last year, they did a show in Fort Macleod and in Calgary.
“I keep thinking if … since it’s going to be an annual thing … well for some reason I … have this $10,000 figure in my head, I guess ’cause that’s what we did the first year and I kind of keep thinking well we’ve got to do at least that,” adds Wort Hannam.
He remembers talking to the ALS director and she said it doesn’t matter the amount, the fact he’s creating more awareness about ALS is amazing in of itself.
Along with the performers at this year’s event, there will be Rosebud artist Randall Wiebe who will paint a portrait of one person on stage in 15 minutes, while one of the bands play. People will be able to purchase raffle tickets the night of the event for a chance to be selected as the person Wiebe will paint a portrait of and that person gets to take their portrait home.
All the money raised from the raffle tickets goes to ALS as well.
There are occasionally some silent auction items that get donated from people to the event.
Wort Hannam always hopes for a full house of supporters.
“I just hope … people realize it actually is a pretty fun show and … the money is going to a really good cause,” he adds.
People who want to attend should purchase tickets in advance. There could be tickets at the door, but there is no guarantee as it has sold out in prior years.
Tickets are $25 each and can be purchased online at or at the Empress Theatre.

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