Barney Bentall raising money for the Sidney Lions Food Bank

The Cariboo Express are back on the Peninsula for the 10th year.

Barney Bentall returns to the Saanich Peninsula Nov. 19 and 20.

Barney Bentall and The Cariboo Express are back, and this year they’re keeping it local, continuing to raise money for the Sidney Lions Food Bank.

Presented by Music in the Bay, this is the 10th year for the group to perform on the Peninsula.

“None of the organizers work or live in Victoria, and so this is home, this is our home. We’re from the community and our mandate for Brentwood’s Music in the Bay is things within our community…” said Leslie Gentile, artistic director with Brentwood’s Music in the Bay.

Last year, the group performed on both the Peninsula and Victoria, and had been using the Saanichton Friendship Community Church, but thought they’d switch it over to the Mary Winspear Centre, which seemed better suited for a concert.

“The very first time we did the show we had it for two nights in the church in Brentwood Bay which seats about 120 people if you’re really friendly…”  said Gentile with a laugh.

She said they also had to rent the Boys and Girls Club which acted as the group’s green room, with the singers having to run through the parking lot in the dark to get on stage. They also placed another group that night and had to rent the Scout and Guide Hall, so there were three buildings in Brentwood Bay to hold the show.

The classic country roots show, led by Bentall includes Dustin Bentall, Ridley Bent, Kendel Carson, Leroy Stagger and more. There are also some of Western Canada’s finest country rock musicians as the back-up band, performing as The Gold Rush Allstars.

“It’s just a great sort of old time variety show, that’s the mood that we try and capture,” said Bentall in a recent interview with the PNR.

A surprise special guest will also join the group onstage to perform.

When they first got together, they were doing a rodeo dance at Bentall’s ranch in the Interior. His son and some of his friends came up and were going to sit in with Bentall’s band, The Legendary Hearts.

They then all threw in some older country music and songs along that genre into the rodeo dance.

“And we thought ‘maybe it would be really fun to all do something together as a fundraiser,’ so our first fundraiser was in the downtown Eastside (Vancouver) for an organization that we still support ten years later,” said Bentall.

The organization is Pot Luck Café Society.

Bentall said it’s wonderful, because that night of entertainment provides 50,000 meals for residents of the downtown east side along with the shows in Sidney for the Sidney Food Bank, another organization they’ve generously supported.

“There’s always a need there and so we just choose different local charities and we have to partner with them because they go get song sponsors…”

“We do this very much in the old school Grand Ole Opry tradition of say ‘this next song is brought to you by Gillette or whatever,” he said with a laugh.

The show doesn’t just raise money for food banks, but for charities in each different community they perform at.

Last year, over $13,000 was raised for both the Mustard Seed and the Sidney Lions Food Bank, and this year, the goal is set even higher.

“For us, we’ve set a pretty steep goal of $30,000 for the Sidney Lions Food Bank, and we have a lot of sponsors stepping up. It’s been pretty incredible,” said Gentile.

There are already around 20 businesses so far from the Peninsula who have paid for a song sponsorship at the show. A business pays a minimum of $300 and Bentall and his co-host from Calgary, Matt Masters will write a custom song introduction, with a humorous monologue that will use the business name.

“We have a bit of fun with that and then that’s what raises the bulk of the funds for the charities involved,” said Bentall.

One of Gentile’s favourites was a song toward Brentwood Bay Massage and Physio Therapy called Baby Lay Down.

Another song from one of their Vancouver shows was toward sponsor, Shaw Communications called Don’t Expect a Reply.

“And sometimes they go into these really long narratives. It’s pretty hilarious,” said Gentile.

Bev Elder of the Sidney Lions Food Bank is also working on the show too, and is having lots of people dropping off cheques, not even wanting a sponsorship.

When looking for a charity, Bentall said it needs to be one they believe in and support as a group, along with a charity that wants to get involved to help round up sponsorships, helping to promote the shows.

Not only does Bentall perform with The Cariboo Express, but he also has a great band, The Legendary Hearts and does his own solo music as well.

He has a new solo record coming out in May called The Drifter.

The show will take place at the Mary Winspear Centre on Nov. 19 and 20.

Tickets can be purchased by calling 250-656-0275.

For sponsorship opportunities people can contact Gentile at 250-661-4156 or Elder at 250-655-0679.

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