Fort McMurray’s Sentimental Gentlemen Rob Eustis (left

Fort McMurray’s Sentimental Gentlemen Rob Eustis (left

Fort McMurray fire doesn’t deter Sentimental Gentlemen from touring

Fort McMurray quartet continues to tour despite fire in their hometown and stops in Grindrod’s Riverfront Pub to perform Monday, June 20.

Sentimental Gentlemen may make music for a living but lately the band’s heart and minds have been with their hometown.

The Fort McMurray quartet was on the halfway point of their cross-Canada tour in support of their new album, Devil in the Details, when news about the wildfire entering their hometown hit the airwaves.

However, the band, which stops in Grindrod’s Riverfront Pub to perform Monday, June 20 decided to stay on track and keep performing across the country and are now raising funds for Fort McMurray’s fire relief fund as they continue to tour.

“We never thought of quitting the tour or postponing any dates,” said Sentimental Gentlemen’s vocalist/guitarist Mackenzie Walas. “We decided that we need to continue this tour to be a voice for Fort McMurray and try and raise as much money as we can before we head back to help with the clean up.”

Band members say they were relieved to learn that all of their friends and family were safe and their homes are still standing. However, they did lose a bunch of musical equipment and instruments that they were keeping at a friend’s home that perished in the fire.

“Since the day we found out our hometown of Fort McMurray was on fire and our friends and family evacuated, we have gotten an outpour of support from people and venues all across the country wanting to help out,” said Walas.

Sentimental Gentlemen have Fort McMurray to thank for their beginnings.

Walas and founding member Joe Howes (lead guitar) met at an open mic night at a local tavern in the Alberta oil town in early 2013.

“Playing music was an outlet to get away from the busy lifestyle of a thriving boomtown,” said Walas.

After playing songs together until they closed the place, it was certain that this was the start of a great musical friendship.

Walas had been performing around town and was looking to start a band, while Howes had recently moved to Fort Mac and had yet to meet anyone who shared his passion for rock music and performing.

At the very same open mic night a few months later, the two men met drummer Handsome Rob (Eustis) and with the help of some friends, the band released its debut self-titled six-song EP.

After recruiting Jeremy Connell (bass), the band’s lineup was complete.

Since then, Sentimental Gentlemen have been performing at a variety of shows around western Canada and have shared the stage with The Sheepdogs, The Trews, and Trooper to name a few.

The band has also released a second album Kicking Stones and their latest, Devil in the Details was released in September last year.

Those who catch the band at the Riverfront Pub are encouraged to donate to the Canadian Red Cross Fort McMurray fire relief fund.

“We feel like we have a new mission and purpose to help in a unique way to give back to the community that has given us so much,” said Walas.

The Monday, June 20 show starts at 8:30 p.m. The Riverfront Pub is located on Highway 97A in Grindrod. Call (250) 838-7261 for info.