A sad rendition of a Canadian party song raises money for a good cause

Who: Alzheimer Society of Toronto and Good&Ready

What: “Fill in the Blanks,” a highly evocative ad campaign to promote a fundraising concert for the Alzheimer Society Music Project. There’s a video, radio and social posts.

Why: The Spirit of John concert in Toronto at the end of January honours Spirit of the West singer John Mann, who has early onset dementia. The remaining members of Spirit of the West will perform, along with guest appearances by other Canadian musicians, with proceeds going to the Alzheimer Society Music Project.


How: A mournful rendition of one of the band’s most famous hits, “Home for a Rest.” A sing-along favourite for fans (and really, any Canadian party-goer) for nearly three decades, this version drops key words to illustrate the effects of the illness. The campaign was inspired by Spirit of the West’s final tour with their lead singer in 2015, when Mann used a tablet with the lyrics to his own songs (see below). “When John did stumble, the audience stepped in to fill in the missing words,” explains Alan Madill, co-founder of the newly launched Good&Ready. “We knew we had to build our campaign around that… it is so powerful to see a musician struggle to remember the words of even his most famous songs.”

First work: This is the first project to come out of the brand new Good & Ready. Madill and his partner Terry Drummond were brought to the pro bono project by Pirate Toronto’s Chris Tait, who helps organize the acts for the annual show.

From the client: “Dementia is a huge issue in Canada, more than half a million people suffer from the disease in this country right now, and that figure is expected to grow. The music project helps dementia sufferers rediscover pleasure in the world through the amazing power of music.” —Scott Russell, CEO of the Alzheimer Society of Toronto.

—David Brown

David Brown