After almost two years, the pain of their son’s passing is still etched into the faces of parents Edna and Ron Clifford.
Devon, the drummer of the band “You Say Party,” collapsed during a show at the Rickshaw Theatre in Vancouver, on April 16, 2010.
Suffering a brain hemorrhage caused by an arteriovenous malformation, he was rushed to the hospital, where he passed away.
Devon would have turned 31 on April 23.
That fall, the band toured the United Kingdom and Ireland but then went in different directions. Having Devon gone was too much for the group of Abbotsford locals, even though they will continue to play music.
That passion will always be there, Edna says, just as it was for Devon.
It’s that love for music that the parents hope will live on, through the Devon Clifford Foundation, which has raised money to fund three separate “Rock Camps.”
The 10-week program offers those aged 13 to 21 the opportunity to discover music, with lessons by the Sound of Music Academy staff.
The $8,400 raised will sponsor 24 participants.
Every Saturday, eight kids can attend the three-hour sessions at the school on West Railway Street, with a show at the end of the term.
The Cliffords were supportive parents, although they are not musical themselves. They have two other children, James, 33, and Estee, 26.
Growing up, Devon took piano lessons and was in a pipe band. He had a flair for the theatrics, his dad says – the life of the party, his mom adds.
They bought him a drum set for his graduation present. Shortly after, he moved to Vancouver, determined to pursue music, even if it meant financial challenges.
He was picked up by You Say Party, performing with the group from 2005 to 2010. Members at that time included Stephen O’Shea, Becky Ninkovic, Derek Adam and Krista Loewen.
They toured all over the world, and were popular in Europe in addition to having a Canadian fan-base. Over time, the band’s sound evolved from punk-rock to include more dance-music elements.
In 2008, Devon also took a position with the Portland Hotel Society, an organization that provides shelter for Vancouver’s homeless population.
He loved the work, and felt like he could make a difference in the lives of others, his mom says.
The rock camps are intended for those who show an interest in learning music, but cannot afford lessons. Abbotsford teachers are helping identify kids in their classes, and the program is still accepting applications.
“When people die, sometimes people don’t like to talk about the person because it’s sad. The foundation for us is a way for Devon to live on,” Edna says.
For more information on “Rock Camps,” call the Central Abbotsford Community School at 604-853-2221.