Here's a CD Wal-Mart isn't likely to carry

GLOBE AND MAIL (Toronto) 07/16/05
By John Allemang

For 10 years, Wal-Mart has been campaigning to build a big-box store on the northern edges of Guelph, near two cemeteries and a Jesuit retreat centre, and for just as long the city's sizable collection of rebels from consumer culture have been fighting back.

Although the Ontario Municipal Board approved the project (which goes
against the city's official plan), the province's Divisional Court has granted a rare leave to appeal the decision. To raise funds for the appeal, scheduled for Aug. 8 and 9, Guelph musicians have banded together in their own act-locally, We Are the World style to create a CD with the pointed title of Not There.

The title track, written specifically for the CD by musician-producer Sam Turton, is a folk-blues number that turns the rhythms of the South against the Arkansas-based corporation with such lines as, "The people stood up and the city said no/But the Walton boys just wouldn't let go," and, "World is round, box is square/Stick it in the south, we don't care" -- a reference to the Wal-Mart opponents' willingness to see the store built at Guelph's more commercial south edge, far from the Jesuit quiet.

The CD, which features such musicians as James Gordon, Jesse Stewart and Dave Teichroeb, costs $20 and is available at Music in Orbit, The Bookshelf and Thomas Entertainment in Guelph, or through, the campaign website of Residents for Sustainable Development.

Discs - Not There Review

NOW MAGAZINE - 07/14-20, 2005
By Brent Raynor

Not There (Sam Turton/Dogsnest Music)
Rating: NNN

The citizens of Guelph believe you should buy your products from the local mom-and-pop shop and want Wal-Mart and its smiling happy faces to stay the fuck away. Rallying around this cause has resulted in this benefit album featuring great local talent, including James Gordon, House of Velvet and Tannis Slimmon, to name but a few. It's largely made up of acoustic folk ballads, but there's also a fair share of gospel and soul, making for an easy-going listen that doesn't ram the anti-corporate agenda down your throat. The band Well Charged offers up a nice reggae nugget that offsets things nicely while demonstrating just how diverse and talented the Royal City community is. If big box retailers don't bother you, the songs here are good enough to stand on their own.

Not There Benefit Concert

ECHO MAGAZINE - 07/07/05
By Christy Bertrand

If you're a Guelph resident, you'd be hard pressed not to bump into a conversation about the Wal-Mart mega store that is trying to bulldoze it's way into the north end of Guelph.

In 1995, Wal-Mart announced plans to build a 135,000 sq. ft. store between two historic cemeteries and the century-old Ignatius Jesuit retreat centre and organic farm. The application did not conform to the city's official community development plan and was refused. But, rather than accepting the decision of Guelph's citizens, Wal-Mart unleashed a ten-year legal siege that has cost the local taxpayers and supporters over $1,000,000. In 2004 the city buckled under the pressure and reversed its position. The group Residents for Sustainable Development is now the only official opposition and faces an oppressive financial burden as it works to protect Guelph and it's sacred spaces against the continued force of the world's richest corporation.

In walk Sam Turton and the Not There Benefit collaborators. On Thursday, July 14, Chalmers United Church will host a concert and cd release party in support of the Residents for Sustainable Development's opposition. All proceeds will be going to their legal battle against Wal-Mart.

Not There is a compilation of Guelph artists and seeks to raise awareness about, and money for, the Wal-Mart battle. The title track features 12 different artists expressing Turton's lyrics, a protest song aimed directly at Wal-Mart: "World is round, box is square / Stick it in the south, we don't care / At 6 and 7 don't you dare / No, no, no, not there."

James Gordon, Tannis Slimmon, Ken Brown, Sam Turton, Well Charged, Norman Liota, Andrew McPherson, House of Velvet, Jiwani, Passenger, Nonie Crete, Sandy Horne, Jesse Stewart, Dave Teichrob and the Plaster Cowboys each contribute tracks that express their concerns for Guelph, it's community and the magnitude of Guelph's David and Goliath battle against consumerism and greed.

What seems to be getting lost in the battle is the smaller voice, the one that is trying to remind people exactly where Wal-Mart would choose to build a giant grey box store, surrounded by a vast grey parking lot. Guelph citizens who would welcome Wal-Mart need only go to 6 and 7 and take a stroll through the cemeteries to understand why this battle isn't as simple as: Wal-Mart, yes or no? Would the founding citizen's who rest in those graves beside the Jesuit retreat centre, or those visiting the centre itself, feel at ease meditating to the sounds of cars and blue light specials?

Ken Brown's significant contribution and track "Learn to Behave" attempts to simplify what's happening: "The idea of their store being in Guelph didn't bother me too much. But when I heard people saying I was anti-Wal-Mart when what I actually said was I didn't like it being rammed up against the Jesuits.... Well, that's bullying for profit - and it has to stop. Now is a good time, and here is a good place."

It's been a long battle, and it's not over. Pick up the cd and join the Residents for Sustainable Development at the benefit on July 14 to preserve Guelph's heritage and support healthy growth and development. Stand up against reckless consumerism because though Wal-Mart is big, Sam Turton reminds us "all empires fall."

Arts Notes - Artists against Wal-Mart

THE STRAIGHT (Vancouver) 07/16/05
By Pieta Wooley

Wal-Mart's proposal to build a big-box store on Marine Drive was defeated at city council last month, after councillors listened to choruses by the Raging Grannies and the Solidarity Notes. This particular brand of protest may have been a first at City Hall, but it's something Wal-Mart has heard before.

Across North America, artists are picking up their brushes and raising their voices to stop the retail giant. For example, Mark Vallen, an eminent Los Angeles-based painter-activist and blogger, uses his Web site to critique Wal-Mart's plans for a mega-museum in Bentonville, Arkansas, by 2009.

"When those in the Walton Family Foundation who suffer from delusions of grandeur consider themselves to be the protectors of art history, that's one thing," Vallen wrote in a May blog on "But when others, especially those in the art world, accept them as guardians of the world's art treasures... that's nothing short of a travesty."

Near Bentonville in Fayetteville, police caught stencillists and poster-makers graffitizing the local conference centre, in protest of Wal-Mart's 2004 annual shareholders' meeting. According to, the protesters made the local news but were unable to finish their piece.

In Guelph, Ontario, singer-songwriter Sam Turton is leading the charge against Wal-Mart's plans to build a 135,000-square-foot store in between the city's historic Jesuit retreat centre, an organic farm, and two cemeteries. The latest tactic in the decade-long protest involves a CD called Not There, named for a song Turton wrote.

A verse: "But council turned right and sold their souls/So the people joined hands at that old crossroads/For the dead and the living gonna take it to the judge/Gonna hold our ground in the name of love".

Turton explained to the Straight that most artists do not find the idea of corporate control inspiring. The CD, featuring music from a wide range of Ontario artists, is available at

Local singers join in 'Not There' CD

CD release will be at a concert Thursday
By Alan Ferris

Sometimes, the stars just seem to align.

As proof, next Thursday at 7:30 p.m., a CD launch concert at Chalmers United Church on Quebec Street will feature a who's who of the area's musical scene.

Sam Turton's latest CD is aimed at getting Guelph to sing a different tune about Wal-Mart.

Many of the 17 musicians and singers who added their voices and their songs to the anti-Wal-Mart compilation will be part of the show.

"It's like our own Guelph Aid," singer-songwriter James Gordon said. "It's a great experience to have all these Guelph musicians from different music genres available at this time of year with all the festivals and shows that are taking place."

Turton, a music producer and songwriter, said sales of the album will help offset the legal costs for Residents for Sustainable Development which Turton says is now the only official Wal-Mart opposition.

"To raise funds and awareness -- and express the support of Guelph's rich musical community -- I decided to produce this CD. The title track, 'Not There,' was written as a vehicle for many voices."

On the CD, 12 artists use Turton's lyrics to Not There in their own way.

"I am honoured that they have given their time and talents to this song and this benefit compilation," Turton said.

Proceeds from the sale of this CD will go to Residents for Sustainable Development in Guelph to assist in its legal battle against Wal-Mart.

"This is our mini Live 8," Turton said. "We're not telling Wal-Mart to go to Mars, but we want it to stand up and work with the community. It's very much in the Live 8 theme of 'think globally and act locally.' "

The CD includes such familiar local voices as Ken Brown, Nonie Crete, Dave Teichroeb and the Plaster Cowboys, James Gordon, Sandy Horne, House of Velvet, Jiwani, Norman Liota, Andrew McPherson, Craig Norris, Passenger, The Sam Turton Band with Jane Lewis, Heather MacRae, Drew McIvor and Jesse Turton, Tannis Slimmon, Jesse Stewart and Well-Charged.

Many of those artists will be part of the July 14 concert.

Tickets are $15 in advance and $20 at the door and are available on the Internet at

Tickets are also available at The BookShelf, Thomas Entertainment and Music In Orbit, all in downtown Guelph.

Not There Benefit Concert and CD Release

MY TOWN - 07/14/05
By Norla Antinoro

Sometimes the music is just about the music. We go for the tunes and we go for the beat. But from time to time, the music brings more. For this baby boomer child of the 60s, last night's launch of the CD "Not There", produced by Guelph's own Sam Turton with the RSD, was a trip back into the halls of my youth and a trip into my future as social consciousness and good music once more joined hands. The musicians were young and old, new activists and long campaigners. The audience was as varied and the energy was high in spite of the discomfort of the lingering heat wave.

The RSD: Residents for Sustainable Development is now the only group officially opposing the building of a Wal-Mart store on Guelph's rural northern boundary. The citizens of Guelph have been fighting the placement of the Wal-Mart at that location since 1995 and have, in a precedent setting battle, managed to keep Wal-Mart stalled for 10 years.

Whatever the reasons for opposing the placement of the store at that location, the fact is that a significant portion of the community does oppose it and that Wal-Mart has chosen to fight the community instead of working with it. To me that alone is enough reason to oppose them with a great deal of energy.

And energy is what this group of talented and enthusiastic entertainers brought to the concert launching the Not There CD last night. The groups performed music from the CD with other pieces interspersed as well. The room was hot and the acoustics a bit of a challenge but the music and the spirit of the night overcame all of that.

Ken Brown set the mood with the sounds of classic folk protest. What are we going to do about Wal-Mart, he said, "we're gonna sing ‘em folk songs." And he did. His songs tied the growth of capitalism and the ever present threat of war clearly together. His history of singing on the union lines came through in the lyrics and the attitude. "War is so's the peace game that's hard." And then he sang the one that brought tears to my eyes "What if these are the times? What if this is my life?"

Andrew MacPherson followed with Stephen Woeller in a pleasant new age interlude. Then Jesse Stewart came on with his fascinating drum songs telling us that in the story of capitalism, "every chapter begins with a war....and ends with a war....this is the record of capitalism." Stewart ended to cheers and applause as the background words floated over his drum music with the words "You will make it happen," capturing the essence of this evening of social awareness and music.

There could not really be a high point of the evening, with so many talented musicians performing such a wide variety of styles. But James Gordon and Friends singing about old Stone Road painted a bittersweet picture of loss and longing...."another golden idol goes up ...another silver maple goes down...don't it make you want to cry?" Indeed, it does.

Sam Turton, a major driving force in the RSD efforts, gives us "Empires Fall" in his usual soul grabbing style. "They may be big, they may be tall, but all empires fall," bringing us hope not just for this battle against the corporate giant Wal-Mart in its war against the people of this small Canadian community, but for all the battles we are waging against tyranny, greed, and corporate empires across the world today. He urges us to "stand up" and be counted once more.

The CD "Not There" is available at the RSD website where schedules of future fund raising events and the story of the battle between the David of Guelph's citizenry and the Goliath of the giant Wal-Mart corporation can also be found.

We can't bring back the past, but we can take a hand in shaping the future by working together in the present.

Not There

ZOILUS - 07/05/05
By Carl Wilson

If I had to lay odds on which would be more effective - the Live8 concerts' noisy attempts to sway the G8 nations' foreign policies, or this anti-Walmart CD which is part of a campaign to persuade the city council of Guelph not to let the big-box retailer build at the corner of two graveyards and a Jesuit retreat/organic farm... my bet's with Guelph. (Sadly enough.) But even their chances seem slim, as Guelph council has turned to the reactionary side. The Guelph effort, led by a fine fellow named Sam Turton, has a benefit concert on July 14. It is too folkie for Zoilus's tastes (where are the Barmitzvah Brothers?) but not, most likely, for the crunchy country people of Guelph. Somehow I think the current council might have been more responsive to an Yngwie Malmsteem-style shredder. Or some other kind of shredder. (Cough, cough.)


NEWS RELEASE--Residents for Sustainable Development (RSD)
Guelph musicians unite for a new CD release and concert to raise funds in the battle against Wal-Mart.

GUELPH, ON, Canada, July 1, 2005--The world's biggest corporation is trying to build a 135,000 sq. ft. mega store in Guelph between two historic cemeteries and the century-old Ignatius Jesuit retreat centre and organic farm. Wal-Mart's ten-year legal siege has cost taxpayers and supporters over $1,000,000.00. With an August appeal looming, Guelph musicians have united to raise funds for an August appeal with a new protest CD and benefit concert on July 14 (Bastille Day).

The NOT THERE Benefit Concert features performances by Juno Award winner Stephen Fearing and recording artists James Gordon, Tannis Slimmon, Lewis Melville, Sam Turton Band, Dave Teichroeb and the Plaster Cowboys, Andrew McPherson, Ken Brown, Jesse Stewart, and Well Charged.

The NOT THERE CD is a concept album of relevant songs by 14 different artists. In the spirit of "Tears Are Not Enough," and "We Are the World," the title track (a tale of townspeople standing up to an invader) is the work of 17 musicians, including 12 different recording artists trading vocals.

"This is music by the people, for the people--to protect our sacred spaces and our community," states producer and title songwriter Sam Turton. "Thousands here reject Wal-Mart's bullying, and this music is our voice."

NOT THERE features songs by Ken Brown, Nonie Crete, James Gordon, Sandy Horne, House of Velvet, Jiwani, Norman Liota, Andrew McPherson, Passenger, Tannis Slimmon, Jesse Stewart, Dave Teichroeb and the Plaster Cowboys, Sam Turton Band, and Well Charged.

All proceeds go to Residents for Sustainable Development in Guelph (RSD), the only official opposition to Wal-Mart at the hearings.

NOT THERE Benefit Concert & CD Release
Chalmers United Church
50 Quebec Street , Guelph, Ontario
7:30 p.m.
Tickets $15 advance, $20 at the door, available on-line, and in Guelph at Thomas Entertainment, The Bookshelf, and Music in Orbit.

Press Release in PDF format

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Sam Turton

For information on the Wal-Mart appeal:
Ben Bennett
Residents for Sustainable Development in Guelph (RSD)

All proceeds go to Residents for Sustainable Development (RSD) to assist in
their legal battle against Wal-Mart


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