By Chris Illich
Inspired by the 1987 film Light of Day featuring Michael J. Fox, a group of like-minded individuals started a foundation in 2000 called Light of Day which utilizes the power of music to raise funds to help defeat Parkinson’s disease.
The song “Light of Day” from the film, was written by Bruce Springsteen and performed by Michael J. Fox and Joan Jett fictitious band The Barbusters in the film, and that’s where the foundation got their name.
The foundation now operates in thirteen different countries and has raised over $2.5 million since it’s inception to help find a cure for Parkinson’s disease.
Dave Rotella, President of Light of Day Canada has been operating the Canadian chapter since 2007. They began in Niagara Falls and Toronto and have since promoted concerts in Hamilton, Kingston and Halifax, and have raised roughly a quarter of a million dollars since they started.
“We started with Niagara and Toronto and have since expanded. Everyone has a love for music, and that’s what brought us all together. We all know how much music can help a cause and that’s why we got behind this,” said Rotella.
“We all know someone who has had Parkinson’s and believe that by putting on a great concert, we can raise money and awareness for this horrific disease. We all believe that music can change things.”
On November 6, Light of Day Canada is bringing Blue Rodeo to the Meridian Centre, the afternoon of November 7 they host Songwriters by the Falls at the Spyce Lounge in Niagara Falls, and then they have Light of Day Toronto at the Cadillac Lounge on November 7 during the evening.
40 per cent of all the proceeds will be put back into the Shaver Hospital Parkinson’s Rehab Institute. For Rotella, this is the driving point of being part of the foundation, “knowing that we’re helping people and when we see people in tears thanking us for all the work we’re doing, it just motivates you.”
Vincent Pastore will be emceeing both the St. Catharines and Niagara Falls events. Pastore explained that the first time he emceed the event was in Niagara Falls, and has had a larger role with the Foundation since.
“I’ve been involved with Light of Day for quite a while now. The first time I emceed was in Niagara Falls. Then I started to get asked to do the Asbury Park shows, and my band The Gangster Squad started playing the events, and I just got a little bit more involved than I thought I was,” he said. “Which is good because I really got involved with the foundation because my mother passed away in the 90s from Parkinsons.”
Pastore — best known for his role as Big Pussy on the acclaimed TV show The Sopranos — knows that his star power amongst others has helped Light of Day reach the levels that it has.
“Really, that’s why we are asked to do it. There’s a lot of Sopranos fans out in Niagara and I want to meet them and they want to meet me,” he said. “It’s become a big part of my life now.”
The affiliation with Bruce Springsteen also helps the foundation as well, something Pastore clearly knows.
“I’m not going to say he’s coming up to Canada, because I’m not starting that rumour,” he laughed.
Pastore now spends his time playing with his band, being part of independent film productions and doing theatre in New York. He also has a theatre company with “Little Stevie” van Zandt of the E Street Band’s wife, Maureen van Zandt. “I have worked with Steven on our Sirius radio show as well, so I’ve met Bruce a lot. I’m looking right now at a picture in my office of Bruce and I at an after party at Light of Day.”
The after party for Blue Rodeo will be at Yanks in Niagara Falls at 11:30.
More information can be found at lightofdaycanada.com