There’s nothing Brad Krauza loves more than his two children — and music — so the veteran musician and concert promoter believes he’s come up with “the perfect event” featuring a full day of golf, great Canadian music and celebration of his daughter’s birthday.
The longtime owner of Gonzo Okanagan, a pop-culture online portal and marketing company Krauza owns with Jason Wosley, was smiling ear to ear Friday morning at Kelowna’s Sunset Ranch Golf Course, which hosted the second annual Gonzo Okanagan Music Industry Golf Tournament and Festival Event.
This year’s event will donate proceeds to MusiCounts, a Toronto-based national organization that focuses on supporting music education for youth in Canada, specifically its Band Aid Program that provides musical instruments to school music programs.
MusiCounts was established as a charity organization by the Juno Awards several years ago, said Krauza.
MusiCounts also helps buy instruments for community-based music programs, recognizes exceptional music teachers in schools across the country and provides scholarships for post-secondary music education.
A full field of 144 golfers played 18 holes of golf Friday morning before heading back to the clubhouse for a full day of live music, including evening performances by Canadian recording stars Econoline Crush and Juno Award-winning blues-rock band Big Sugar, featuring one of Canada’s most acclaimed guitarists, Gordie Johnson.
Last year’s inaugural event featured a headline performance by veteran Canadian rock band Honeymoon Suite and raised more than $10,000 in cash and donations for an Okanagan single mother of three children, who was struggling financially with taking care of her youngest child suffering from a rare neurological disease.
More than 800 people were expected to attend Friday night’s concert.
Krauza’s company has hosted more than a dozen fundraising golf tournaments in the past three years, and he decided using his vast experience as a concert promoter would provide the perfect mix to raise funds for worthy causes while offering a great time.
“I’ve managed to raise just over a quarter-million dollars locally for local charities through fundraisers like this,” he said. “I’ve also spent most of my adult life promoting concerts, from local to international with bands like INXS and Judas Priest. I thought, why not mix them together.”
Friday’s concert lineup also included Kelowna rock band The Feels, a brief performance by members of the Wentworth Music Education School Youth Band, The Young’Uns, a classic-rock band that Krauza has been a part of (bass player) for many years, and indie band Ancient Engines.
“A big part of my business is fundraisers like this . . . and it’s my children who drive me. My kids have been to every single fundraiser I’ve done,” he said. “I chose this weekend because my daughter was born on Father’s Day. The thing that keeps me going every day are my two children.”
His son Bradyn, 23, and daughter Martina, who celebrates her 22nd birthday today, share his love for music, said Krauza.
“I remember watching my kids during sad times and remember the sad songs and the good times and happy songs . . . and 20 years later you hear those same songs and it brings a flood of memories,” he said. “That’s the impact music has on all of us.
“When children are growing and learning, they develop a love of music and it provides memories that last their entire life.”
Donating proceeds from Friday’s event to an organization like MusiCounts just makes sense as music education programs across the country continue to struggle with funding challenges, said Krauza.
Because MusiCounts is based in Toronto and his business “is all about the Okanagan,” Krauza organized a conference call and discovered the organization was indeed assisting music education programs in this region.
“They donated $50,000 in Kelowna in 2018 for children’s music programs . . . and $90,000 in total when you add in Vernon and Penticton,” he said. “They are asking more organizations in this area to apply for grant funding. What we’re doing today is donating funds so more programs offering children’s music programs in the Okanagan can apply for this grant funding.”
Krauza hopes to be able to bring recent Juno winners to the Okanagan to perform at future fundraisers, starting as soon as next year.