Sherri Woodstock: A Night at the Opera House

If your ears are ringing today, relax–you were at Sherri Woodstock last night. The lid was blown off Toronto’s Opera House on several occasions as six great bands pounded out song after song in a spirited salute to former Toronto Sun spark plug Sherri Wood, who lost her brave battle with brain cancer last March.
Wood’s smiling face could be seen throughout the night, projected at the back of the auditorium in scenes from her “Wood on the Weekend” Sun TV days. Seeing her big smile and dimpled chin again was an inspiration for those of us lucky enough to stand on that stage.
By the time Classic Albums Live blasted out a nearly hour-long Led Zeppelin set, we were nearly half a thousand strong. Not quite Woodstock, but everywhere there was song and celebration.
All the music was great yesterday. Five Blank Pages drew the unenviable post-Zeppelin slot, but managed to both mellow out the crowd with an intimate acoustic vibes before cranking it up again for a raving finale. The Little Millionaires and Franky Moonlight ripped through two high energy screamer sets, testing the Opera House sound system beyond its limits. Opening act The Overtones set the tone with an afternoon set of straight ahead indie rock. Dani Strong said she felt a little overwhelmed by all the testosterone rock, but she and her bandmates put on winning, melodious set proving, as Sherri would have loved, that Chick Rock rules.
If you were there you felt the love. Sherri’s family, mom Debbie, sis Kayla and step-bro Austin (seen in this Stan Behal Sun shot), took turns getting hugged. Little Millionaires’ string-bustin’ guitar man Aaron Sawyer deserves full credit for assembling a fantastic day of music. None of the bands were paid, and every one of them gave everything they had.
A bit overwhelmed by all the guitar blastin’ was comedian Frenchie MacFarlane, who got in a few quick zingers before heading off to host another season of America’s Most Wanted. (He’s a dead ringer for AMW host John Walsh.)
Jason MacNeil has a story on Sherri Woodstock in today’s Toronto Sun. You can read the Sun story here.
The incredible gift of Sherri Wood just keeps on giving. Hopefully we’ll do this again and build on a great day and night of music.
Toward the start of the night, when there were mainly family and close friends mingling about, a couple of brief clips were shown up on the big screen of the Opera House. One featured Sherri, one year ago, at Halloween, dressed up as a bumble bee. She had just visited the Sun and was giving a video shout out, joking about her short term memory loss. Her brain was literally scrambled, but he spirit was indomitable.
Watching that clip made me terribly sad for a split second, but it also gave me hope. No matter what lay in front of her, Sherri was always about seeing how life held promise and possibilities. She always held an expectation for joy. Her face, as a smart music therapist remarked at her funeral, was like a flower, always turned toward the sun.
So that was the great gift we are all left with today. Memory loss has its upside. Sherri herself kept forgetting she was dying. If she couldn’t remember, why should we?
Long live Sherri, and long live Sherri Woodstock.

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