Hip's Langlois gets a little help from his friends

Paul Langlois performs at Fare for Friends in Kingston on Sept. 16, 2018. (United Way of Kingston, Frontenac, Lennox and Addington/Supplied Photo) Steph Crosier / Steph Crosier/Kingston Whig-Stan

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While it was a lengthy process getting approval for the concert to take place in Kingston Pen, setting the lineup was anything but.

In fact, Paul Langlois figures, it was pretty much done within a day.

“All that needed to be said was that it was for charity,” he said of the “Rockin’ the Big House” concert taking place Saturday as a fundraiser for the United Way of Kingston, Frontenac, Lennox and Addington.

And all of the performers are connected somehow to The Tragically Hip. Kasador — “a no-brainer when it came to getting a good, young, up-and-coming band,” Langlois said — counts among its members Boris Baker, Hip guitarist Rob Baker’s son.

Friend and fellow Kingstonian Kris Abbott plays guitar with the Pursuit of Happiness, while the Trews had one of their albums produced by the Hip’s Gord Sinclair and recorded at the Hip’s Bathouse studio.

“There’s something about the Trews in Kingston,” Langlois said. “They’re very popular here. They love it here. They’re connected here. They’re kind of connected with us.”

And headliners Headstones’ frontman, Hugh Dillon, went to Kingston Collegiate and Vocational Institute with Langlois and the rest of the Hip.

And then Langlois also brought in friend, and sometime golfing partner, Tom Cochrane.

“He said, ‘I’m totally willing to come down and do it,’ so we thought, ‘Well, we’ll put Tom in that special guest situation.’”

Langlois will be the emcee of Rockin’ the Big House, and fellow Hip members Gord Sinclair and Rob Baker are likely to perform at some point, too.

And don’t be surprised if Langlois plays a Tragically Hip song, as he did at the recent Back to the Farm Festival. He said he now has his “head around it” after the death of Hip frontman Gord Downie almost two years ago.

“Anything Hip is a tribute to him and a tribute to us and what we went through together,” Langlois said. “I don’t get weird if the Hip comes on now. Of course I’m sad, I’ll always be sad about Gord, but it’s a tribute, it feels good.”

It took him a while to get to that point, though. He sang one of Downie’s solo songs while performing with the Campfire Liars Club, and “it felt good to me.”

“He was my buddy, and it felt like a tribute to him,” Langlois said. “I wouldn’t want to make a show of it or a night of it or anything, but it’s a good feeling. And people don’t mind. It’s not like they think, ‘What are you doing? That’s sacrilege.’ Gord wouldn’t feel that way, either. Songs are songs, and we were all involved in writing them.”

Now three years after the final Tragically Hip concert in Kingston, Langlois said the band members had hoped that it wouldn’t be.

“And then, after the show, the first thing Gord said to me was that — and we had all talked about continuing that this would be the last show of the tour, but, you know, if he started to get better, maybe we’d do another run — and he was like, ‘That felt like the last show.’ And he was right. That struck me.”

The return to life in Kingston without the Hip was made easier since each band member kept their home lives distinct from the band.

“It was just totally normal. The non-normal part was us going out on the road. Yet the five of us together was normal. So we were always able to keep it that way,” Langlois said. “Now that it’s gone, and Gord’s gone, it’s surreal and I hate it. I’m really bummed for him. We took it well, and we did what we did.”

Watching the concert come together, and the level of detail needed, has been a learning experience for Langlois, who has been more concerned with what happens onstage rather than off.

“For those of us who grew up here, can you believe this?” Langlois asked. “We’re at a rock show inside Kingston Pen. Nobody ever saw that coming.”

phendra@postmedia.com

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