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Flood Aid an 'old-fashioned' barn raising'

Flood Aid an 'old-fashioned' barn raising'Nickelback opens the Juno Awards show in Ottawa, April 1, 2012. Organizers of a fund-raising concert planned for Thursday in Calgary say they expect to raise more than $1 million for the Calgary Foundation's Flood Rebuilding Fund. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Fred Chartrand

CALGARY - Comedian Brent Butt is calling it the musical equivalent of an old-fashioned barn raising.

A fundraising concert for Alberta flood relief is expected to draw 30,000 to Calgary's McMahon Stadium Thursday to hear such blockbuster Canadian acts as Nickelback, Jann Arden, Randy Bachman, Tom Cochrane, Matthew Good and Corb Lund.

Butt has agreed to be the master of ceremonies for the event which organizers believe could raise $2 million for flood relief.

"I think it's going to allow people to be celebratory in a way — it's not like a memorial. In a way it's a big shiny, modern, multimillion-dollar version of an old Prairie barn raising," Butt said.

The Saskatchewan-born creator of the TV show "Corner Gas" has a couple of siblings that live in Calgary and started his comedy career in the city before eventually moving to Toronto.

"It's kind of fun for me to participate in this — my duties are really to keep the show moving along loosey-goosey. It's not like I'm having to go out and do a bunch of standup," he said.

"This is really a musical concert so for me it's about keeping the show moving, crack wise when I can and try and make people laugh now and then. I'm not looking to make light of the situation at all. I'm looking to lighten the situation. It's a pretty easy gig."

The main organizer of the event, Peter Jurisic, said the show will run a total of five hours and still, a number of performers had to be turned away.

"It's great talent. It's diverse. It's world class. It's homegrown. We're going to have some unique collaborations on stage," Jurisic said.

"I know how successful aid concerts have been in the past and I thought this was a very profound event that affected southern Alberta and we should do something that is fairly significant to see if we could build something big."

Winnipeg's Bachman doesn't fit the homegrown criteria, but he said he feels a tie to southern Alberta.

"Being a Winnipeg kid, I'm sure I've played every town in the Prairies, and if I can help bring awareness to the devastation, and the ongoing need for repair, I'm happy to be involved," he said.

Bachman said it was hard not to be drawn into the tragedy that impacted thousands of families.

"It’s unbelievable how water and fire can destroy everything in its path. Mother Earth is out of balance with all the pollution from big business, wars, global warming...and this is the result," he said.

"It’s not unique to any part of the world anymore. We are all in danger and we need to work together."

Lund, who grew up in southern Alberta, has already played a number of flood benefits and wrote and recorded "Blood, Sweat and Water — A Song for Southern Alberta" with the proceeds going to flood relief.

"It's home for me. If I had a vacuum truck I'd do that, but all I can do is sing and you've got to help how you can," Lund said.

"I've been involved in a lot of charity stuff over the years but this is the most close to home."

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