Peer support community created for musicians

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A Brantford man’s experiences in the music industry has led him to help create Over The Bridge, a peer support community to talk about mental health and addiction recovery.

Ace Piva was a drummer playing metal, punk, funk, country and radio rock before moving on to become a tour manager and sound technician.

While the latter two are still mainstay gigs, Piva enrolled at Hamilton’s McMaster University to become an addictions counsellor.

He worked at some programs in Hamilton to gain experience before co-founding Over The Bridge, a non-profit organization of which he is executive director.

“There’s a lot of stigma within the music community,” Piva stated. “With substance use disorder, if anything there’s a stigma against sobriety. Not many other industries fall to that.”

He said many people have seen a musician on stage “half-hammered, the crowd cheers, someone falls off the stage, and the crowd cheers louder.”


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Over The Bridge is an online community with about 1,200 members from across North America and further afield.

Piva, an addiction recovery coach, is aided by therapists and pharmacists within his organization to provide peer support and counselling through private message boards and twice a week Zoom sessions.

He said the life of a touring musician often involves spending a day or two in a city before moving on to the next.

“When you’re home, it’s only for a couple of weeks before you’re back out again,” he said. “Being able to maintain friendships, family and romantic relationships is very difficult.”

That leads to feelings of loneliness that some musicians attempt to manage through alcohol, drugs, food or sex.

“Lately, the Zoom sessions have dealt with isolation, loneliness and anxiety about the lack of work,” Piva said. “Another big topic is the loss of identity. For musicians, it’s one of the most emotional occupations in the world. Now that those outlets of performing are gone, people are struggling to find who they are to begin with.”

This week, Over The Bridge launched the Lost Tapes of the 27 Club. The so-called club refers to the musicians, including Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Kurt Cobain and Amy Winehouse, and other entertainers who died at the age of 27.

The four-song album can be found on Spotify and YouTube, or by visiting Piva said listeners will hear similarities to artists they already know.

“To show the world what’s been lost to this mental-health crisis, we’ve used artificial intelligence to create the album the 27 Club never had the chance to,” Piva said.

“But no matter how good technology gets, nothing compares to the real deal. We have to make sure our artists have the support they need now.”

For more information, visit

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