Singer/songwriter musician battling ALS

By: Yvonne Van De Wiele-Cooper

Just a few years ago, Lenny Wilde graced the cover of BScene for a feature article about his new Americana album, Savannah Nights. Then we brought you a story about the resurgence of his Shotgun Records enterprise with partner Danny Thompson.

But life has taken a twist. Wilde has been diagnosed with ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease) and his many friends have stepped up to help.

Wilde and his wife Marnie live in Cape Coral, Florida, where he’s been undergoing costly experimental treatments, not covered by insurance. To help out, a Tribute/Benefit for Lenny Wilde will be held on Friday November 9th at the Gunner’s Club on Henry St. in Brantford.

Steve Beach first met Wilde decades ago at his SG recording studio in St. George. At the time, Wilde was performing in “Lively Country” on CHCH TV with band members Whisky Hollow, named after the legendary Brantford neighbourhood he hails from.

Beach helped record music for the program. “We hit it off right away,” he said. When he learned what his longtime friend was up against, he was quick to offer his help with the musical tribute.

Joyce Colleya, a life-long friend who grew up across the road from Wilde “right in Whisky Hollow” is handling the nuts and bolts of the event. She’s overwhelmed by the outpouring of community generosity, many who have come forward without even being asked.

Gunner’s Club manager Peter Sheere, also an old friend and neighbour of Wilde’s, has offered use of the entire club and the food for the buffet lunch free of charge. And Pat Alonzo Music Shop has volunteered the use of any musical equipment that might be needed.

And then there are the musicians.

Vern “Fatty” Smith, Guy Wilkes, Pierre Maher and Steve Beach will be on hand. The Danny Thomson band and Jim Windle’s, Big Joe Blues Band will also take the stage. Music will also be provided downstairs by Pierre Maher.

“We expect people will migrate upstairs and downstairs as old friends and neighbours talk to people they haven’t seen in years,” says Windle.

Windle says Wilde has been honest with himself about what having ALS means. “He’s found his peace with it and now it’s all about saying goodbye to friends and that’s what this gathering will allow him to do,” he said.

Joyce Colleya says meantime, she expects the event to be sold out quickly and there won’t likely be tickets available at the door. “It should be a good night,” she said.

Tickets are available for $20 at Alonzo’s Music Shop on Charing Cross, from any of the musicians and Joyce Colleya at