Well this was an event and a half! The inaugural Canuck Country Rocks charity event looks like it will become an annual thing, featuring the killer combo of Vancouver Canucks alumni hockey players and local musicians of a variety of stripes. This was like a practice event for the Juno Awards as well, as a chunk of the evening’s performers left for Ottawa the next morning to attend the awards weekend. It’s hard to quite describe what it was like to be at this event without actually being there. I expected a pretty chill event, you know, polite country-music crowd, cleanly-delineated performances interspersed with guest speeches by alumni imploring us to support the evenings benefactors, Canuck Place Hospice and Basics for Babies. There were those things for sure, sort of, but also a lot of hilarity, band member swapping, all-in performances, crowd boisterousness, and the most unexpected thing, Canucks alumni joining in on the music. The night was split into two parts with a little intermission, and performances by Odds (former Canucks house band, tonight bringing in retired NHL player Gary Nylund on board as a spare guitar player) and surprise guest Colin James rocked the house, while the ‘Country’ portion of the event was spearheaded by Aaron Pritchett (whose videos feature members of the Canucks alumni) and Chad Brownlee (who was drafted by the Canucks once upon a time). In between, there were some anecdotes and chit-chat about the benefactors with alumni, notably Kirk McLean, Cliff Ronning and Jack McIlhargey. Later on, McLean (and his roving, enthusiastic cowbell minstreling), Ronning and McIlhargey joined Odds, Pritchett and Brownlee and their bands on stage for the final couple numbers, along with Garth Butcher taking center stage and a handful of other on-and-off folks popping in from side stage. Did I mention the whole night was emceed by none other than John Ashbridge, legendary Canucks arena announcer? Anyhow, it was a ton of fun and I’m already looking forward to checking this out again next year!