Hospital benefit concert is special for Surrey rocker

Hospital benefit concert is special for Surrey rocker

SURREY — B.C. Children’s Hospital has a special place for at least one musician taking part in this Friday’s Rock the Ridge concert in Pitt Meadows.

Northern Rain drummer Matt Stockwell, an 18-year-old Surrey resident who recently graduated from Fleetwood Park Secondary, underwent successful heart surgery at the hospital in June.

The four-and-a-half hour procedure, called catheter ablation, restores normal heart rhythm, particularly if the irregular rhythm has not responded to medication.

“It happened just over a month ago and it was good,” Stockwell said. “I’ve had (heart) arrhythmia for five years, and as soon as I graduated and finished my hockey, I thought it would be a perfect time to do it. The people there are so nice and so well educated. I was scared before (I went in for surgery) but I wasn’t scared at all when I was in there. They were super calming – full marks to them.”

“Our experience with Children’s was great,” added Stockwell’s mom, Kathy.

“It’s amazing to be in the cardiology clinic and see three-week-old babies being cared for and then this 6’ (tall) lanky young man walks in – his toes were almost hanging over the stretcher.”

A fundraiser for the BC Children’s Hospital Foundation, Rock the Ridge is now an annual event, due in large part to the exuberance of past performers, volunteers, and fans at the inaugural 2013 concert.

Featuring Maple Ridge bands The Basement, Ria Jade, as well as And A Little Guitar, The Reprise, ADOB, and a returning favourite from last year’s show, Northern Rain, this year’s concert will be held Friday, Aug. 22 at the Pitt Meadows Heritage Hall.

Funds from Rock the Ridge support the most urgent needs of the hospital.

Rock the Ridge also provides an outlet for young bands across the Fraser Valley of the rock genre, like Northern Rain, to share their music in an inviting environment.

“The goal of the annual concert is to provide an opportunity to support local kids through local music,” show producer Sara Stanley said.

Doors open at 6 p.m. with performances set to begin at 6:30 for a show that will be a little more than two hours long. Tickets, at $10 each, are now available at two Maple Ridge businesses (T’s at 11970 224th Street and G&G Music at 20475 Lougheed Hwy), one Pitt Meadows business (Pet Planet at #113 19150 Lougheed Hwy), and at the door.

Last year Rock the Ridge raised $1,100 (after expenses) for BCCHF. This year’s target is to surpass last year’s funds despite having more expenses with the venue change, which was done to make the concert more accessible by the public.

Stockwell is looking forward to Friday.

“It’s a great cause and my favourite charity,” he said. “What they do for the kids, they save tons and tons of lives. I couldn’t think of a better cause.”

Extra motivation comes from the fact that Stockwell had a blast last year.

“It was so much fun to do, especially when you have a group of bands as good as this and as nice as this,” he said. “The crowd last year was awesome and the stage was really good. We haven’t seen the venue, but I am looking forward to it.”

Immediately after performing at Rock the Ridge last fall, the guys from Northern Rain – including Stockwell, vocalist and bass guitarist Sam Hobeyn, lead guitarist Matt Friesen, and rhythm guitarist Bryan Miguel – asked Stanley when the next Rock the Ridge would take place.

“I knew they had to be invited back, and close the show,” she said.

As for the band itself, Northern Rain members write their own music and perform covers at their shows.

The tunes they cover at shows come from a wide range of music, from bands like Blink 182 and Hedley, to their own heavy rendition of the 1983 megahit "99 Luftballons" by German pop singer Nena.

The band has an EP to its credit, Tomfoolery, and is in the process of “writing and writing like crazy,” with the hope of one day making a full-length album.

“I love the guys in the band,” Stockwell said. “They are some of my best friends and I love making music with them. For sure, we’d like to make a career with it. We’d like to keep playing.”