Outpouring of support preludes fundraiser for Lemmie Chaisson
By Nicole Feriancek
The community of Rollo Bay is rallying around well known musician Lemmie Chaisson.
Mr Chaisson has Stage Four double lung cancer.
On Sunday, March 24, the roof of St. Mary’s Hall in Souris will blow off at a benefit concert for him and his wife Judy, organizers
A Facebook page already has more than 230 likes after a few days and comments of prayers, and heartfelt words of encouragement the Chaisson family.
Long time friend Melvin Ford said the Chaisson couple is humbled.
“For them it’s not about the money and it’s not about wanting people to make financial contributions. It’s about needing thoughts, prayers and support. They have a really rough road ahead of them and it’s up to us to support them and that’s exactly what this community is doing.”
Mr Chaisson, 67, is an accomplished guitar player and member of the Chaisson Trio, along with his cousins Peter and Kevin. He has released a CD, has more than 30 years experience preforming and is a lifetime Honourary Member of the PEI Fiddlers Society. He plays guitar for the Rollo Bay Kitchen group.
He also plays mandolin, fiddle and vocals and regularly plays at the Colville Manor in Souris, signing old songs for the residents. He has also been a foundation of the festivals at Rollo Bay since they began.
Mr Ford is helping organize the benefit with Emeric Holland and others. It will feature a silent auction, cake auction, 50/50, fudge sale, door prizes, and of course music.
Many musicians will play, including J.J. Chaisson, Lester MacPherson, Peter and Kevin Chaisson, and maybe J.P. Cormier.
Mr Ford said the support has already been overwhelming.
“We’ve had a one-hour private charter flight over PEI donated, truckloads of split wood donated for the silent auction, lobster, paintings, cakes, jewelry, the list goes on,” he said.
Doreen Chaisson is married to Lemmie Chaisson’s brother Peter.
“I’ve been on the phone, calling people in the community looking for donations. The response has been unbelievable, they all want to help.”
The event, which starts at 2pm, will be packed with friends, family and musicians.
“We’re going to have to limit the talent or we will be there all day. Each performer is only going to get to play one or two tunes,” she said.
Mrs Chaisson said the musical community has been hit hard this year. Elmer Deagle died a few months ago, and another musician Mark McPhee, was just diagnosed with a life-threatening illness.
“These are three people that have always played at benefits, always been around the community.”
Anne McPhee is another longtime friend of Lemmie Chaisson. They met at fiddle lessons at the Rollo Bay School in 1997, and often still play together.
“Lemmie is really the heart and soul of our group. Nobody plays the guitar like Lemmie. There’s no voice like Lemmie’s. He plays the old Irish songs, songs I’ve never heard anyone else play.
He’s keeping these songs alive.”
Mrs McPhee said during music festivals at Rollo Bay Mr Chaisson “is on stage almost the entire weekend on guitar. He never gets down, he’s accompanying everyone. He’s such an integral part of the festival.”
Mr Chaisson’s treatment options have not been finalized.
“It was such a blow. Every time I tell someone, it’s like getting hit with the reality all over again. We’re all devastated.”
Mrs McPhee said Mr Chaisson has a strong faith, lots of support from the church and a loving family of one son and four daughters.
She said that despite his talents Mr Chaisson is deeply humble.
“You can’t heap a whole lot of praise on him, or he’ll just say “ah, go away with ya.’”
She said the benefit is a way for the community to show him how much he means to them.
“He’s a kind hearted and generous of spirit. He would help anybody. And if you had a dollar for every benefit he’s played at, we wouldn’t need to have this benefit.”