It all started in the spring of 2009 when Doug McRae and his band, The Flying Saucers, led a benefit for their good friend and fellow musician, Graham Calder, who was diagnosed with Pulmonary Fibrosis. Graham spent his life doing the thing he loved most – playing and teaching guitar and sharing his gift of music. With support from the Albert Blaine Society, the event was a small way to show Graham how much he was loved and appreciated.
Doug extended an invite to his friend Witold Gutter who responded with, “Hell, I’m too ugly, too old, and too fat to be going to a hall party.“ But Witold also knew Graham for most of his life and even taught his three kids how to play guitar. So Witold went and dragged along a few buddies.
For Doug it was just business as usual – the Saucers played, the audience enjoyed, and all was good. But for Witold, it was different – he was knocked over by the quality of LIVE MUSIC – something that he grew up with and watched fizzle out over the years. The event managed to raise a few dollars for Graham, but Witold, who long forgot how old and fat he was, wanted to do more to prolong this trip down memory lane.
It wasn`t long before Witold called Doug to ask if the Saucers would do it again. Doug agreed and another benefit was organized with help from the Saucers and Witold’s friends. The second fundraiser was a success as many old friends came out and had a great time. The LIVE MUSIC was great, Graham was honored, and Witold was happy.
That was not the end. As Witold tells the story, Doug called and asked if he wanted to do yet another. Witold responded, “Hell, Doug, this is a ton of work and if we are going to do it, we need help. Let`s do another as a test run, and if there`s enough interest, we’ll form a Society.“
And so off they went to organize another event. This time they got help from Jet Trautman, Dan Rowe, Carson Cole, Martin Salloum, Bob Dawe, and a few others.
The event sold out, and so the Society was born.
By now a core group of people were meeting on a regular basis to iron out details and get the ball rolling. This included Doug McRae, Witold Gutter, Jet Trautman, Dan Rowe, Donna Semeniuk, Bob Dawe, Martin Salloum, Carson Cole, and Susan Taylor.
By spring of 2010, the founding members were celebrating the incorporation of The Rock and Roll Society of Edmonton and were planning the launch - a rock and roll gala at Fort Edmonton Park, featuring David Gogo as the headliner.
Much has happened since then including the introduction of Edmonton`s own annual Rock Music Festival in 2011 and the birth of The Centre for Arts & Music, a program aimed at helping less fortunate kids in our community improve their lives through music.
Sadly Graham Calder passed away on November 5, 2011, before he could see all that he inspired. He will be remembered as a full-time guitar teacher at The Acoustic Music Store on Whyte Ave, as well as a fine local musician who often played at pubs, parties and any other gigs he could find.
Remembering Graham Calder
Graham was a fixture on the Edmonton rock scene for more than 30 years, as well as a very popular guitar teacher. He was an inspiration to many young musicians and instrumental in the creation of The Rock and Roll Society of Edmonton.
He was also the original impetus that started the Rock and Roll Society of Edmonton - Graham struggled with a long ailment for his last two years, and it was in his honor that friends and family came together for a magnificent benefit that became the society we have today.