Local youth who may have a desire to learn guitar but not be able to afford one have a terrific opportunity thanks to an exciting new venture in the City.
David Gilmore of the Red Deer-based Gilmore Guitars said that the original ‘Guitars For Kids’ was co-founded by Dan Walsh and Bob Egan, the latter of Blue Rodeo fame, in Cambridge, Ontario.
Gilmore felt that this was an essential program for young aspiring musicians, so he decided to launch the program here in Red Deer as well.
As the web site points out, the purpose of the program is to provide free used guitars and other instruments to Red Deer and area youth and families in need.
Gilmore had brought the concept to several local musicians and other interested folks and together they formed GuitarZ For KidZ Red Deer.
“We were sitting around the bench here one afternoon, and I said, you know, I’d really like to try doing something like this,” he said of the original program launched by Walsh and Egan. That conversation spurred further research, and Gilmore also chatted with Walsh for more about the program in general.
“Through emails and conversations, Don spoke with Bob Egan as well. So we set up our own idea and we struck a committee. I found some like-minded individuals who could form our own non-profit GuitarZ for KidZ,” he said.
That committee consists of Gilmore, Don Routley, Shelley Hager, Jim Claggett and Matt Sayler.
“Another one of my friends, Scott Barnaby, who is the past president of the Red Deer Arts Council, said, ‘Why don’t you create a committee under the Red Deer Arts Council – that way you don’t have to form your own non-profit. You can use our non-profit status’.
“We went before the Arts Council and gave them the pitch about what it is that we are doing and what we wanted to do. So now GuitarZ for KidZ is actually a committee under the Red Deer Arts Council.”
It’s an exciting venture to be a part of and it’s come together quite quickly, with discussion about the concept just starting this past spring and the committee status gained this past July.
These days, Gilmore said the committee is on the look-out for used guitars (acoustic, electric and bass), ukuleles, mandolins, banjos, amplifiers and miscellaneous equipment such as capos, amps, cords and tuners.
“We need it all and we will put to good use,” said Gilmore, who has been hand crafting guitars since 1995.
“The mandate is that we want to collect instruments that are no longer being used. My job is to make sure that these instruments are playable; that they are all set up so the young people can get them in their hands to play.
“We want to get those guitars into the hands of kids who either don’t have the means or the money to purchase a new guitar.
“We have already given away two guitars and we have also brought in probably over 25 instruments so far. So as a fledgling committee, we are doing pretty good,” he added with a smile.
The main task these days is about building awareness about what GuitarZ for KidZ is all about.
Meanwhile, when folks send in a note about receiving a guitar, the committee vets the requests for eligibility.
“Where we are sort of struggling right now is in requests for instruments. We have sent letters to all of the social agencies in town so they are aware of us.”
He also pointed out that for those interested, checking out the web site is a great place to start.
“There is a contact tab on the web site where they can tell us their story, and we will get back to them.”
According to his web site, Gilmore embarked on a radio career that lasted 30 years and spanned all four western provinces. And within that time frame he never put the guitar down.
“Also, in that time, he was able to meet many of his musical heroes. There is a ‘wall of fame’ at the shop with photos of David with several artists.”
For more information on how to help out, or to send in a request, check out www.guitarzforkidz.ca or call Gilmore at 403-872-0006.