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Desire to play not extinguished by flames

Five Acre Shaker singer’s apartment burned down, but he still came to play
Kyle Morris
Not even a fire destroying his home could stop Nipawin-raised Kyle Morris from performing at the Five Acre Shaker. Photo by Jessica R. Durling

NIPAWIN — Kyle Morris’ childhood was not quite the start expected for a musician.

“When I was a young kid, when I was a young gaffer, I was very sick actually. I had really bad tonsils, so I was sick for a lot of time and it delayed my learning for a lot of years,” Morris said. “I had to go to a speech pathologist, and that kind of thing. I was actually singing before I could talk.”

He went on to play at music festivals, charities and camps. Eventually he even landed a full-time job as a music teacher.

“It’s more important than ever to get to come back and show my gift.”

Morris played the Five Acre Shaker the first year it happened, when Morris was still in music school. He wouldn’t get to play it again until four years later.

“I wanted to come back earlier, even after the first one I wanted to come back but time and schedules didn’t match up well, then I finally caught Craig on a day he wasn’t doing a whole lot, the man’s busy most of the day, and we kind of just set a deal and sha-bang, I’m here.”

Craig Day was the organizer of the Shaker, and has the event on his property each year.

It almost didn’t happen. In July, Morris woke up next to his girlfriend at his apartment to fire alarms at 1:30 in the morning.


The fire

“At first you think it’s a drill or something, well why would this happen on a Saturday night or whatever? It was a Sunday morning. I just grabbed my phone, and my keys to my car, and our pet bunny.”

His bunny, Zorro, has a moustache making him look like the protagonist of the movie by the same name.

When they got outside, they found flames reaching from the building, growing out of one of the corner apartments.

“There was apparently a guy on his deck smoking, in a non-smoking building. He put his butt in a planter pot and it was filled with peat moss. It was smoldering for hours, nobody even thinks they were in the apartment to begin with. Basically burned through the pot, caught on the deck, and the deck was made of wood so that caught fire, and they have a barbeque with a propane tank, so that just blew.”

Debris began falling onto the cars in the parking lot below. The two, with Zorro in their arms, raced to their vehicle and drove it away.

It was clear they lost their home. They didn’t want to lose their car with it.

Morris counted about 16 fire trucks as the fire burned on for five hours.

“It took out about the entire building, like the whole top floor is basically nothing.”

They went back the next day to find the outside of the apartment was destroyed. What was his patio door no longer existed, as well as the whole deck. As of the Shaker, he hasn’t been able to go home, and doesn’t know how much is left of his previous life, if any.

“Thankfully I’m just thankful everyone got out safe and sound and no one was killed in the fire. I’m surprised, 90 suites was in that entire building and nobody was killed.”


Picking up the ashes

“After the fire happened I lost all my music gear, I had nothing, it was all in that house.”

Thankfully it was insured, but the sentimental unique items are gone. Such as his acoustic guitar.

“I had it for about six to eight years, somewhere around there, and they don’t make that model anymore so I can’t get that guitar back,” Morris said. “I wanted to keep that guitar for years, even if I bought something new and didn’t want to use it. I just wanted to hang it up because I loved it so much.”

Morris, who was supposed to play at the Five Acre Shaker in August, texted Day.

He still wanted to go.

“’Even though this happened I’m buying new gear as we speak, out of pocket basically. I’m going to come to the show, hell or high water. Literally. My apartment burned down and I’m going to come to the show, I’m not going to bail.’”

Day told him he was going to do something special for him, but wouldn’t say what it was.

Shortly after Morris saw on Facebook that Day was donating an unspecified percentage of the entrance fee to Morris.

“He didn’t say anything, he just up and did it. I was so thankful, and honoured, and privileged,” he said. “All the rest of it, I couldn’t think of any more kind words to say about Craig, but he’s very accommodating.”

After the concert Morris and his girlfriend received $640. 

Morris wants his childhood community to know one thing.

“Support local music, that’s the biggest thing. Musicians need people to come watch their shows and it’s kind of a dying, as you see. You see most people doing DJing and people playing on MP3s for weddings,” Morris said. “Be there, be local support for people who want to up and come.”