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Arkells T-shirts raise thousands for Hamilton YMCA’s ‘virtual’ programming amid coronavirus pandemic

The Arkells' Max Kerman shows off a limited-edition T-shirt designed exclusively for the YMCA Hamilton. @arkellsmusic

Hamilton’s Juno award-winning band the Arkells have jumped on board with the YMCA’s new online programming aimed at those stuck at home during the coronavirus pandemic.

Frontman Max Kerman, who is a downtown YMCA member, says the band is giving 100 per cent of proceeds from a limited-edition T-shirt sold on the Arkells website to raise funds to support the agency’s online programs.

“We wanted to try to think about how we could shine a light on what they’re doing and raise some money,” said Kerman.

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“So we reached out to them and said what if we took… an iconic piece of retro YMCA gear and then plaster an Arkells logo on top of it.”

With the YMCA’s brick-and-mortar locations closed, a virtual version of the agency is now active offering programs ranging from fitness to activities for kids to cooking.

Kerman says before the pandemic he was a regular at the Y’s gym on James Street South. He says it’s a great place to meet people.

READ MORE: Hamilton’s Arkells offer free merch in a campaign to support local news

“I have conversations with lots of people in there and, you know, a lot of people say hi and know I’m in Arkells.”

Since the shirts went on sale for $35 in mid-April, Kerman says they’ve amassed over $10,000 in sales.

“If you’re a supporter of the Y, you know, the shirt makes sense. And if you just like cool-looking T-shirts with Arkells on it, then it makes sense for you, too.”

‘Flatten the curve’ online music classes

One of the activities you can check out on the YMCA’s virtual website is the “flatten the curve sessions” hosted by Kerman and the band.

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The same day Ontario declared a state of emergency and ordered the closure of a vast majority of businesses across the province, Kerman announced an opportunity for music fans to jam with him online while physically distancing.

READ MORE: Hamilton’s Arkells keep fans busy with ‘flatten the curve’ music sessions

The segment has been running since March 24 with the frontman dropping what he calls “campfire chords” to the band’s songs on social media.

Later in the afternoon during a live session on Instagram, Kerman then shows participants how to play it.

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“Over the years, you’ve had a lot of people ask us, you know, how to play some of our songs. So we figured this was  a good time to teach folks how to do it.”

Kerman says he’s had viewers from Italy, the United Kingdom, New York City and across Canada. He says it’s transformed into a show that keeps up with not only his bandmates but also the likes of Hockey Night in Canada‘s Ron MacLean and the Toronto Maple Leafs’ Mitch Marner and Morgan Riley.

“But then after that, it kind of turns into just a hang where I beam people into the chat.”

The “flatten the curve” music classes take place each day at 1 p.m. and are live online for 24 hours.

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Click to play video: 'Learn guitar with Max Kerman of the Arkells' Learn guitar with Max Kerman of the Arkells
Learn guitar with Max Kerman of the Arkells – Mar 19, 2020

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