Together We Give Hope

Better Together: The story of the Kingfisher Bluez annual fundraiser

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Raunie Mae Baker and Tim Clapp wear their hearts on their sleeves.

Tim Clapp runs a long standing Vancouver record label, Kingfisher Bluez. Every year around Christmas time, the Kingfisher Bluez musicians and friends of the label host a band showcase – with 100% of the profits going to the Crisis Centre of BC. 

“The first year we had the Christmas party, we had it in the basement of someone’s house,” recounts Tim of the show’s humble beginnings. After that first party in 2008, Tim decided to give the profits from the show to charity; “We had $150 left over,” says Tim with a chuckle. “It didn’t make sense to give every band $15 so I just decided to give funds to charity.”

With more bands wanting to play, and a growing audience for a new Christmas tradition, Tim had to book larger venues. Fast forward to 2022 – their show raised a staggering $17,004.  

“When we are giving money to a charity, we represent everyone participating in the show so we needed a cause that everyone could get behind,” explains Tim. While looking for a charity to partner with, Tim visited different non-profits and once he stepped into the Crisis Centre’s office, he knew he found the one.

Tim reflects on his own experiences with depression and says that one of the reasons why the community supports the Crisis Centre so wholeheartedly is because a lot of the people who donate, play, and volunteer at the show have either called the Centre themselves or know someone who has. “We’ve had people tell us that they had never heard of the crisis line until they came to our show. Then they come back the next year to help out because they saw the value of the Centre’s work or because they ended up using their service.” 

After 10 years producing the show on his own, Tim was starting to feel the pressure. Raunie Mae Baker was at the Kingfisher Bluez Christmas Party in 2018 as a photographer and took note of how much work the event was for one person to do. In her words, she told Tim, “I want to help you with this because this is the most disorganized thing.” 

Considering their tight budget and goal of raising as much as they can to support the Crisis Centre’s work, pulling off a successful show relies on everyone – from musicians and visual artists, to show attendees – pitching in what they can. Everyone helps, everyone contributes, and everyone gets something from the show. Despite the annual chaos, it all come together in the end.

“The best part is all these people – all our friends and people we love – they don’t have two bucks to rub together, and yet everyone comes and pays for the show,” adds Tim with pride. “At the end, all the profit gets put into a bucket and brought in here,” he says gesturing at the Crisis Centre office. “We love coming here, it’s great to see everyone.”

“All the work is worth it,” says Raunie Mae, “knowing how much [the show] does for the community and how much it contributes to the larger cause.” 

Tim and Raunie Mae have witnessed many full-circle moments at the shows over the years; people going from coming to hear the bands, to volunteering or even becoming one of the acts. Many of the bands featured in the show don’t get many chances to play at such big venues, and yet “everyone feels big and important” when they play the Kingfisher Bluez Christmas Party. “Everyone doing it has a DIY ethos,” says Tim. “It’s a democratizing event and everyone has the same goal there.”

“The bands grow but they still come back to do the shows and support the community,” says Tim. “They are setting an example for all the newer folks in the scene.” Raunie Mae continues, “There is camaraderie . . . every band tells us how much the show means to them.” 

The organizers see the mission for the Kingfisher Bluez Christmas Party as destigmatizing mental health challenges and reminding people of the importance of asking for help by creating a safe, fun, and approachable community space. “Part of what I want to do with my work is to show that it’s possible to get past the difficult times and come out on the other side,” says Raunie Mae.

“People might be going through a tough time and feel isolated and they end up going to the show and there they see us and all these cool bands talking about mental health and our struggles with it,” continues Tim. “It makes people see how common [struggling with mental health] is and how not alone they are.”

When speaking about their hopes for the show’s future, Tim and Raunie Mae reflect on the uncertainty they face in their field; music venues and art spaces shutting down has been a hard reality for the Vancouver music scene. But they remain undeterred: the show must go on. “The community knows that the show happens every year,” says Tim, emphasizing how treasured the event has become. “There’s enough momentum to grow [the show] and we’re prepared to keep it going.”

They hope to keep growing the show in order to accommodate everyone who wants to come, since the show sells out quickly every year. Although they can’t make any promises due to the constantly changing arts landscape, “we’ll see what we can do,” say Tim and Raunie Mae with a signature mix of humility and optimism. 

After the 2021 event, the team didn’t think they could beat raising $11,000. “Now I’m like, we gotta do 20 grand next year,” exclaims Tim, only half joking. “But it’s not just about making the most we can for the Crisis Centre, it’s also about creating the event and that needed safe, welcoming space for folks.” 

With a spirited mission and unwavering commitment from everyone involved, the Kingfisher Bluez Christmas Party is sure to be a mainstay for the community for years to come. 

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To find out more about the music and artists of the Kingfisher Bluez label, check out their website and follow Kingfisher Bluez on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter 

If you are interested in hosting a fundraiser of your own to support the work of the Crisis Centre of BC, please visit our website: