Carlton Munroe, middle, is shown on stage with long-time friends Dave Gunning, left, and George Canyon during the Big Bash for Carlton on Saturday, Jan. 14.
NEW GLASGOW - Hundreds of people filled Glasgow Square and Wrangler’s Bar and Grill on Saturday for the Big Bash for Carlton, a marathon fundraising concert that brought in $53,000 for Carlton Munroe and his family as the executive director of the New Glasgow Jubilee and Glasgow Square battles cancer.
The concert saw 1,500 guests in attendance, 125 artists performing on the two stages, 137 volunteers and 180 silent auction donors, according to organizers.
It was a homecoming of sorts with musicians, many of whom have roots in Pictou County, supporting a man who helped them make great strides in their careers.
Ryan MacDonald of Alert The Medic said as soon as the band heard about the event, they planned on being involved.
“I don’t care where we’re at, we’re flying home. We’re doing whatever we can do.”
MacDonald, who grew up in Stellarton, said he met Munroe while Munroe worked for the radio station.
“We were kind of barking up that tree when we were younger, … trying to get our songs played on the radio when we were 16, 17, 18 years old,” he said, adding that Munroe was one of their first supporters.
“We’ll do whatever for that guy. He’s the sweetest dude in the world and he deserves everything.”
He said events like the Big Bash for Carlton are what Pictou County people do – stepping up whenever anyone needs help in the area.
While attendees danced and sang along as Maritime artists performed on stages, those backstage were catching up with old friends. During a 20-minute interview, Munroe was stopped for hugs and greetings multiples times as family and friends took turns in showing their gratitude for how well he’s doing.
Mike Vienneau, who was a volunteer, performer and an auction donor, said he wanted to be involved in order to give back, adding that Munroe gave him “probably one of the best gifts I’ve ever had in my life which is Pictou County Pop Classics.”
Vienneau, who met Munroe while on a bus trip to see the Rolling Stones in Montreal, had lamented the lack of opportunities for cover artists locally and Munroe listened, finding a solution. This resulted in a production involving 42 local musicians that pays tribute to music of the 1970s.
He said Munroe opens doors and takes complications away. Being involved with the fundraiser has been an experience in humanity for Vienneau, he said.
“It’s not only helped Carlton; it’s helping many, many people recognize the good in people... It’s just an amazing thing to be a part of. It’s a high. It’s a lift. It’s exhilarating.”
He said over the days leading up to the event, he, and other volunteers, couldn’t sleep, waiting for the day to begin to put together the final details of the event.
Vienneau believes the spiritual help and support from people has helped Munroe in his frame of mind.
“Before you even mention the money, just the difference that it makes for people to support people and peoples’ hearts to open and to move others away from fear by doing that. Carlton doesn’t need fear right now. He has enough to worry about and if we can get him to concentrate on the good things, they’re around him and that’s what this is all about.”
Leah Samson echoed a similar sentiment about Munroe opening doors. She said when she moved back to Pictou County with her husband and fellow musician Kyle Samson, Munroe sought them out after seeing a video of the duo online.
He helped line up gigs for them, including them as opening acts at Glasgow Square shows.
Samson said they wouldn’t have had the success they’ve had without Munroe.
“He gets to work with these really big acts that to us seem like way above us and then he treats us the exact the same way.”
Sandra DeCoste, who is a part of Pictou County Pop Classics and knows Carlton’s wife Taryn well, added that he’s a huge supporter of Pictou County talent.
“The family is just very sweet and deserving of all of this greatness.”
Dave Gunning, who performed with fellow West Pictou alum George Canyon during the event, grew up with Munroe in Lyons Brook.
Gunning describes him as the nicest guy in Pictou County and said he’s well-loved, as evidenced by the outpouring of support he received Saturday.
“So many people, just when they heard he was sick, it affected so many people. That’s why you see this many people wanting to help. He’s touched a lot of people with his generosity over the years and just his humility.”
Gunning said Munroe will continue to be an important part of the county, helping people as he has in the past, but for now, it’s the community’s turn to help him.
“It’s overwhelming for all of us, all of Carlton’s friends, to see the support, too. It feels really good. It’s a great thing. It’s a great feeling here tonight.”
Carlton Munroe was feeling awkward, overwhelmed and grateful, all at once, as hundreds of people gathered to support him and his family on Saturday.
“I’m just happy to be back here. Four months is a long time to be not here. To see all these dear friends that I have coming out to do this is just mind-blowing.”
He said he was reluctant to have a benefit thrown in his honour when he was first asked, but decided to accept it, noting the financial challenges that come with undergoing surgery and radiation treatments and adding that it gives him an opportunity to be around “all these people I love, the things that I love to do.”
Munroe was diagnosed with glioblastoma, an aggressive brain cancer, in November.
Beginning Tuesday, Munroe will be doing six weeks of radiation and starting chemo pills, which will continue for several months.
A few days before Christmas, Munroe underwent surgery to have a mass removed from his brain. He said 99 per cent of it was taken out and his neurosurgeon, Dr. Dan McNeely, gave him a fist pump and a smile after it was done.
He said he can’t thank everyone enough, both those who were involved and those who attended the bash.
“Mentally, it’s just making me feel so much more positive and hopeful to the point where I just want to be out here working with them, presenting these things and doing what I love.”
Want to donate?
Donations are still being accepted for Carlton Munroe and his family.
If anyone wishes to help, they can do so by e-transfer to CareForCarlton@gmail.com, dropped off for 'Carlton Munroe' at any Scotiabank branch in Pictou County and cheques can be mailed or dropped off c/o his employer: Town of New Glasgow, P.O. Box 7, 111 Provost St, New Glasgow, NS B2H 5E1.