Francis Joseph (Joe) Chithalen (November 17, 1967-May 1, 1999) was a Canadian musician who played bass with a number of bands in the Kingston music scene of the 1990s, most notably Bloom, J.O.Y.Y., Weeping Tile, The Mahones, Wild Blues Yonder and Haskell & The Cleavers. On May 1, 1999, Joe died tragically at the young age of 32 in Amsterdam shortly after a Mahones concert, reportedly from ingesting food containing peanuts.
Joe’s friend and former bandmate from Weeping Tile, Sarah Harmer, wrote “You Were Here”, the title track from her 2000 solo album, in memory of Joe. Joe’s M.I.L.L. was established by the late Wally High – Joe’s friend and bandmate from The Mahones – along with other friends, family, and fellow musicians to carry on Joe’s legacy of sharing music.
Joe Chithalen was a young musician beloved in Kingston because he encouraged everyone with an interest in music to perform. When he died, suddenly and unexpectedly on May 1st 1999, it took just hours for his friends to organize a bus so they could travel to his funeral, several hours away. In the same few short hours, one particular friend, Wally High, had made the decision to follow through on a concept he and Joe had discussed often: finding a way to make sure everyone had a chance to learn to play an instrument. They both knew that many of the young people who “hung out” aimlessly could be redeemed by music.
Wally discussed the plan with local friends as well as with Joe’s parents… but he also began immediately to follow through. By June of 1999 he was planning the first “benefit day” to bring in money for a scholarship and a lending library of musical instruments. By July, he had feelers out to many of the bands Joe had performed with, working to organize a benefit concert. Mike McCallion, a childhood friend of the Chithalens, offered to assist with the logistics of the first concert. Wally also forged a partnership with Rob Doak of Radio Station K-Rock which lasted 8 years and won Rob Citizen of the Year honours in March 2001 for his organizational work.
During the same summer, Wally was already searching for a location for this “lending library of musical instruments.” His networking skills eventually found him in conversation with Frank Lockington of St. Lawrence College. These two felt that there might be a place at St Lawrence for the library, and Frank offered to store and catalogue Joe’s large personal collection of musical instruments, in addition to the many instruments which had already been donated to the cause by local musicians and friends.
After finding a couple of different homes since it’s inception, Joe’s M.I.L.L. has grown immensely over the years with the hard work of amazing committee members and volunteers. We now offer:
The library has over 750 instruments and resources including guitars, keyboards, drums, horns, violins, percussion, amplifiers, exotic instruments, sheet music, and much more – and they’re all available to borrow … free of charge!
The M.I.L.L. relies on donations to keep instruments fixed, and pay rent, hydro and internet to serve our community. Any amount will helps us continue spreading the magic of music. You can donate instruments if you have any to spare as well.
Joe’s M.I.L.L relies on volunteers like YOU to offer this amazing service to our community. From fundraising, to writing grants and working events and any other way that you may think of to help we could use your helping hand.
We appreciate any contribution, from small to big they are all meaningful. Please contact us and share your idea!
NAME | Joe's M.I.L.L.
ADDRESS | 110, 370 King St W, Kingston, ON K7L 2X4
PHONE | 613-549-5637
WEBSITE | http://www.joesmill.org/
Tuesday: 3:00pm - 7:00pm
Wednesday: 10:00am - 2:00pm
Thursday: 3:00pm - 7:00pm
Saturday: 12:00pm - 4:00pm
Bedouin Soundclash was formed by students of Queen's University. Their debut album was released in 2001 called "Root Fire".
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