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Instrument theft doesn't stop band
Welder's Daughter thankful for community support after stolen guitars returned

April Hudson
Northern News Services
Thursday, September 17, 2015

In the words of lead singer Karen Novak, Welder's Daughter's weekend in Fort Simpson was a roller coaster of a ride.

NNSL photo/graphic

Welder's Daughter performs at the recreation centre in Fort Simpson. Attila Novak, left, plays with Karen Novak, guest drummer Mike Hoffman and Tom Benke. The theft and subsequent return of some of the band's gear did not put a damper on their experience, according to the musicians. - April Hudson/NNSL photo

The afternoon of Sept. 11 began promisingly for the members of the Yellowknife-based country and rock band, who road-tripped from to Fort Simpson in anticipation of their gig the following night. The band had been booked months in advance by the Open Sky Creative Society.

Attila Novak, guest drummer Mike Hoffman and Tom Benke piled into their vehicle that afternoon with $10,000-worth of musical instruments and sound gear in tow, which they stowed at the recreation centre upon their arrival. They met their lead singer the following day.

On Sept. 12, they discovered all their gear had been stolen - including a rare wood-grain prototype USA Fender Stratocaster, a second Fender, a bass guitar and two iPads.

Despite having no instruments, the band agreed to continue their show after what they describe as an outpouring of community support.

"We had a whole bunch of people offer us their own instruments," Karen said after the show. "The community really came together. There was a huge outcry on social media about what happened - people were searching in dumpsters and closets to find our equipment."

Some residents got together to bring the band lunch, Attila said, while others searched.

"To some of us, our instruments are like secondary wives," he said. "They mean a lot to us."

Just before the show started, the band got some good news - their instruments had been returned.

Band members credit the return of the gear to the dogged efforts of community members who felt the situation reflected poorly on the community.

"We were amazed," Karen said. "We're more in love with this community now than we've ever been."

Fort Simpson RCMP stated in a news release they had arrested two suspects in relation to the theft.

One adult male was diverted to community justice, while an 18-year-old man has been charged with possessing break-in instruments and theft, according to the release.

RCMP also credited the community for the return of the instruments, describing social media as "key" to their recovery.

As for the band, Karen said she sees a silver lining in the incident, despite the stress it caused at the time.

"We had a lot of people come out for our show. There was such a social media buzz because of (the theft)," she said.

Welder's Daughter has since returned to Yellowknife, where the musicians have an ongoing gig as the house band at The Gold Range until April.

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