Country singer Julian Austin may be coming to Cambridge for the first time on Saturday . . . but it will be for a farewell as he's going to close the bar he's playing. Literally.
After a decade on the scene, owner Nash Cohen has sold Fiddler's Green Irish Pub -- everything, including its longtime resident Emily, the oft reported ghost of the Green.
"It was an offer I couldn't refuse," says Cohen, of the closing that marks the second prominent live concert venue to disappear within six months following last year's abrupt relocation of the Lil Big Horn to Brantford.
Cohen, nevertheless, wants Fiddler's Green to go out in style, so he's organized a benefit for The Sapper Mike McTeague Wounded Warriors Fund featuring Canadian country star Julian Austin, bagpipe rockers The Mudmen and AC/DC tribute band For Those About To Rock.
Tickets are $25 and all door proceeds will go to the fund, which contributes quality of life items such as personal blankets and individual entertainment items designed to lift the morale of soldiers wounded on the front lines.
Country performer Austin will be donating $5 of each sale of his current Red & White CD to the fund, which is near and dear to his heart.
"I do a lot of stuff for the military and that's a rewarding passion for me as well, working alongside our men and women in uniform," said the New Brunswick-born Austin on Tuesday from the home he shares with wife Angela in Steinbach, Man.
"It's a great cause."
As for Austin, named Rising Star at the Canadian Country Music Awards in 1997, he's on the comeback trail, having led the kind of life worthy of an immortal country song.
In his rather frank MySpace.com posting, Austin writes about his previous life and arrest as a cocaine dealer and later, his rise and fall as one of this country's most promising country music stars.
Spawning an earthy likeability that captured the hearts of many Canadian country music lovers, Austin earned a platinum album for his 1996 debut What My Heart Already Knows and a big chart-topping hit with Little Ol' Kisses.
Even though his criminal days were behind him, Austin's substance abuse still remained a major bug-a-boo that the singer admits eventually derailed his career.
"Later on down the road I ran into problems with my record company BMG due to the fact that my half-a-tonne of cocaine I was blasting up my nose a day made me quite unmanageable to say the least and quite the insane madman to deal with, plain and simple," Austin writes.
Commenting on the posting, Austin says his life is an open book for a reason.
"I'm not ashamed to share my past for both good and bad," explains Austin, clean and sober since 2003.
"I receive a lot of e-mails and people come up to me time-to-time telling me they can relate with my story in that they've gone through the same thing or are going through the same thing, or they're doing better because of reading my story.
"We all have our struggles in life and we all have our demons. It's been quite a lot of time for me and my demons are at rest. And I must say, I like my life better a little toned down and not so reckless, wild and selfish."
Now living a life of "weight training, walking, jogging and eating healthy," Austin has taken two-and-a-half years to make his self-financed album Red & White, taking time wherever possible out of his schedule to entertain the troops.
"What NATO is doing and the Canadian soldiers are doing for the people of Afghanistan is pretty great," says Austin, currently working on a new album.
"I love them." .. story continued
For More information about The Wounded Warrior's Fund: http://www.woundedwarriors.ca/en/index.php