July 10

Jun 02, 2016

By Dale Molnar

Music has given a group of Windsor musicians in hospice care hope and happiness. Now, they want to use that music to give back to hospice.

The Wellness Band at the Hospice of Windsor and Essex County has been around for four years but they're now getting ready record.

They're raising money on a GoFundMe site to make recordings, which in turn will be sold to raise money for the hospice.

The band is comprised mostly of musicians who have severe illnesses, some of them life threatening.

About two dozen of them get together every Wednesday afternoon at the hospice to take turns jamming.

Even though they sometimes play the blues, they are far from being so.

Joe Perry, the director of patient and family services at hospice, started the wellness band four years ago to help get over the emotional challenges of having prostate cancer.

The guitar player says playing the music has been extremely therapeutic for a number of the musicians, including himself.

'It just kind of gives you a break'

"When you come down with a cancer diagnosis or some serious illness, it's very easy to kind of go into that pity party. That, you know, 'why me? Am I going to survive this?' And it just kind of gives you a break from that thinking," Perry said.

Drummer Elliott Harrison had two brain operations to remove a cancerous tumour and an operation on a lung to remove more cancer last year. He is now cancer free, but he says he doesn't know where he'd be without the band.

"I thought that hospice was just for people on their way out until I got involved," Harrison said.

"It's the light of my life. If I didn't have music, I don't know where I'd be," said guitarist Michael Barrette, who suffers from Meniere's disease, which causes extreme dizziness.

Inspirational musician and teacher Dennis Solet, a popular member of the community, joined three years ago. Solet died of cancer in February but Perry says they still feel Solet's spirit playing with them in spirit.

"All the time. We just played the Ride for Dad on Saturday and we could feel Dennis right there with us," Perry said.

Perry said the band will hold a party this September on the anniversary of the living wake Solet threw for himself last year to say goodbye to his friends.

tags: hospice, hospice of windsor and essex county, wellness band, album, music