Benefit concert to support the ANAVETS Club sells out

Donny Parenteau plays his fiddle at the Herb Bassett home Tuesday. Arthur White-Crummey/Daily Herald

The organizers of a sold-out benefit for the Army, Navy and Air Force Veterans Club (ANAVETS) tonight are honoured to be able to do their part to support the organization.
Donny Parenteau and Mark Tweidt have organized a night of live music and dancing to support the long-running club.

“Donny and I have been friends for a long time, and we have the same kind of background. We have a heart for veterans and seniors,” Twiedt said

“Number two, more importantly, the club is at a point where there aren’t as many vets anymore. We have such a great club down here and we wanted to do something to kickstart it, let people know about it again and to get their finances up.”

Twiedt said what first attracted him to the club was the camaraderie.

“It was a real friendly atmosphere. Everyone knew of each other or about each other,” he said.

“I like to play pool and there’s a pool table. I like bands, there’s not a bad seat and I love to dance. For me, I was sold.”

Tweidt said the atmosphere of the weekly Friday night dances isn’t something you can find anywhere else in Prince Albert.

For Parenteau, the club has even greater significance.

“When I started playing at the age of 14, that was the first venue I played at,” he said.

“I was still a minor at the time, but they allowed me to go in and I played every couple of months. It was a lot of fun. It was basically where I learned to play.”

Those initial performances at the ANAVETS helped Parenteau launch a music career that saw him open for acts such as Merle Haggard, Tim McGraw, Faith Hill and more while playing with Neal McCoy. He also had a solo career that earned him several Saskatchewan Country Music Award wins and nominations for Canadian Country Music and Juno Awards.

He’s not the only musician to get his start playing at the club.

Brian Sklar, one of Canada’s most-awarded country music performers, also got his start at a young age performing at the club with bands on the weekends.

“For 50-plus years, this club has been providing live entertainment in Prince Albert every Friday, non-stop,” Parenteau said.

“Entertainment is usually one of the first things that’s going to be ditched to cut back on budget. I don’t want that to happen because it gives an opportunity for people to come into the last remaining place I know of in prince Albert where you can go watch a live band play on Friday night and dance with a dance floor,” Parenteau said. “That’s what separates this place from any in P.A.”

Parenteau said the support for the now-sold-out event is “incredible,” especially because the event sold out before Parenteau could announce the special guest, Canadian country music artist Julian Austin, who is coming from Alberta to join in the concert.

“This is one of those events I take a lot of pride in because a lot of times in Prince Albert, it’s tough to pre-sell tickets on anything. It’s hard to get people to buy ahead of time,” Parenteau said.

Parenteau and Tweidt thanked everyone who helped organize the event, including, donors, people who purchased tickets and the ANAVETS club members themselves, especially president Alayne Lundy.

Tweidt said they are also encouraging people to donate to the club in remembrance of loved ones who served in the armed forces. They are hoping to collect 500-1,000 donations of $100 each.

Donations can be made by contacting Twiedt at 306-960-9505, Parenteau at 960-4187 or the club at 764-5777 and asking for Alayne.

Parenteau emphasized why tit’s important to support places that host live entertainment.

“If people don’t come to start supporting live entertainment, live entertainment will no longer be there for you,” he said.

“From the bottom of my heart, thank you to everyone who supported this vent not only by coming but everyone who donated. I know it’s going to be a huge success.”