Cowboy Mark of Ambush performs for Ingleside seniors, June 26

Ambush frontman Mark McDonell during a recent performance at the J.W. MacIntosh Seniors' Support Centre in Williamsburg, one of a series of local stops then sponsored by JED Express. McDonell returns to the area tomorrow (June 26) for a similar solo show in Ingleside sponsored by Kriska Trucking. Zandbergen photo, Nation Valley News

Kelsey Smith
Nation Valley News

INGLESIDE — With a full summer schedule of concerts cancelled, Mark McDonell of Ambush suddenly had a lot of free time on his hands. 

So he’s parlayed the COVID-19 lockdown into a series of sponsored solo appearances outside many seniors and retirement centres.  

McDonell reached out to Nation Valley News to announce his next show tomorrow (June 26) at Inglewood Court seniors apartments, 43 Dickinson Dr., Ingleside, from 10:30 to 11:30 a.m.

“This show is sponsored by Kriska Trucking. They saw my show with JED Express (at the J.W. MacIntosh Centre in Williamsburg) that you covered, and they wanted to give back to the community as well,” he explained. 

McDonell tells NVN he has been averaging four shows a week since the end of March. I do a lot in Kingston at places that I had previously played inside.”

He thanks NVN and other forms of media for their hand in spreading the news. “Because of folks like you covering the shows, I have been able to branch out to other areas.”

“It truly has been a blessing as I’m self employed as a musician so these shows help me and help seniors as well,” he added.

See McDonell’s May 22 show in Williamsburg (below), one of a few stops in the area sponsored by JED Express.

McDonell says he enjoys seeing the smiles on the folks as he, the “Cowboy,” sings to them outside and cheers them up during these tough times. 

As is the case for many businesses and entertainers, the COVID-19 pandemic has had a huge impact on the music industry. 

“We had one of our best summers lined up for fairs and festivals this year booked 3-4 days a week right until the end of the year and right now all shows have been cancelled at least into October and possibly longer. It’s like they turned the taps off for us and all performers around the world,” expressed the Ambush frontman. 

These latest opportunities on the seniors’ circuit have opened many doors and financially helped McDonell and the members of his family who have been touring around the countryside with him. 

“The income has helped for sure but the reaction from the seniors has really been the blessing for me. Music is so healing in many ways.’

The tour has turned into quite the family affair, says McDonell. “It’s a travelling family road show! My son Cash plays drums, he’s 12, and my daughter Gracie dances and gets folks involved that way and my wife, Kelly, drives the truck around the buildings. 

“This has been such an education for my kids especially to teach them to respect and give back to our elderly. It’s also fun to hear them singing old classic country songs around the house as they now know all the songs I sing,” he lovingly remarked.

“Without my family I couldn’t do these shows as the setup has to be fast and in many locations sometimes to circle buildings,” McDonell explained. “We are like the Partridge Family.”

The 25-year singing veteran, originally from Perth, is overwhelmed by the reactions he has received from not only the seniors, but the staff and public as well.

“Music is so healing in many ways. Staff have said to me that some residents have been so depressed that when they see the Cowboy they sit right up and are smiling and clapping and singing along and the mood at the facility is up not only then but for days after. They also count the days until I return! It gives them something to look forward to for sure,” McDonell shared humbly. 

“This time with my family has been the silver lining in all this. We travel around with our lunches packed and the kids are so excited when we play a new facility and see the reaction from folks,” the musician concluded.

Below, McDonell and his Ambush bandmates perform at South Mountain on Canada Day, 2016. 
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