• Stephanie O’Hanley

Yule the night away at benefit concert for the West Island Mission


Rosebuddy band members Yuri Mohacsi (left), Neil Briffett, and James Misata (right) in promotional photo. Rosebuddy is one of three bands putting on a benefit concert for the West Island Mission food bank December 10 at the Pioneer in Pointe-Claire Village.

On December 10, three bands with West Island roots – Rosebuddy, The Opera, and The Co-Conspirators – are holding a benefit concert for the West Island Mission food bank at the Pioneer in Pointe Claire.

The promise? Three “smokingly awesome bands” inviting people to “come on out and yule the night away.”

“We’ve done benefit concerts for different organizations but this is our first time for the West Island Mission,” said organizer Neil Briffett, Rosebuddy’s guitarist and vocalist, who teaches English at John Abbott College.

As a teacher Briffett says he’s not rich but he and his band are happy to donate their labour for a good cause. “A quarter to a fifth of our shows are benefit concerts. It’s the least we can do.”

Rosebuddy has done benefits for Dans La Rue in downtown Montreal. But since so many band members are from the West Island, Briffett thought it would be interesting to do something for a local charity. “I looked around at different charities and the West Island Mission jumped out at me.

“A student at John Abbott told me about them helping his family,” he said. “I don’t know if I’ve ever heard of them before,” Briffett said, adding that after he checked out their website, “it certainly struck me as the right cause.”

“Wow, this is so great!” said Wendy Gariepy, West Island Mission’s Director of Operations. Gariepy said the West Island Mission was also chosen this year to receive funds for its Christmas baskets from a December 4 Bands for Baskets fundraiser. “It’s always nice to find some new people to notice you.”

In late summer when Briffett got the idea of doing a benefit concert, he discussed it with a band called The Opera, whose members include Andrew Brock and Ryan Maydan, two friends who teach in John Abbott’s English department. “We’ve never played together even though we’re good friends,” he said.

“The Co-Conspirators is an offshoot of a band I’ve known for a long time.” Briffett said. When he approached Will Richards, a guitarist he’s known for 25 years, he initially thought Richards would bring his band, Sawtooth. “He’s (Richards) the one who suggested The Co-Conspirators. I said, sure, why not start the evening with something more acoustic? He and his partner Katherine Simons, she’s got a great voice, I’ve seen her play before, they’re going to be doing a short set of their own original compositions.”

“Generally speaking all three bands play original material, they’re not cover bands,” he said.

Briffett said the four-piece band The Opera is “hard to describe… a little bit atmospheric, moody, angular, very dense sort of music, but incredibly entertaining and a very good live band.” As for Rosebuddy, a rock-pop trio, “we have songs that will either tear your head off or weep over your decapitated corpse.”

The Pioneer is a “good, central location,” he said. “We were looking around and said, okay, that will be the place,” Briffett said. “All three bands have sort of West Island roots, so it’s kind of a nice combination. A lot of people have said ‘oh next time you’re playing, let me know’ but if we’re playing downtown they’re not going to go schlep their way and so we figured okay, this is a nice middle ground. People from the West Island can go and people from downtown can come as well or off-island.”