Musicians of The Huron Carole record a performance at Blue Frog Studios in White Rock last July. Singer Tom Jackson and band perform the benefit concert annually in communities across Canada, but this year it’s all being done online due to the COVID-19 pandemic. (submitted photo)

Musicians of The Huron Carole record a performance at Blue Frog Studios in White Rock last July. Singer Tom Jackson and band perform the benefit concert annually in communities across Canada, but this year it’s all being done online due to the COVID-19 pandemic. (submitted photo)

BENEFIT CONCERT

Tom Jackson’s ‘Huron Carole’ concert in White Rock goes virtual to feed hungry Canadians

Surrey broadcast date of Blue Frog-recorded show is Friday, Dec. 11, to benefit Surrey Food Bank

This holiday season Tom Jackson isn’t touring The Huron Carole the way he normally would, which is a drag for him and his band, not to mention fans of those Christmas songs and stories, but he’s excited by at least one aspect of the virtual performances being rolled out in November and December.

The online benefit concert was recorded last summer at White Rock’s Blue Frog Studios for broadcast in Surrey and other areas of Canada on select dates, as part of a 33rd-annual effort to raise money to feed people in need.

“We can raise more money this year, possibly,” Jackson said of this 2020 initiative. “I think it will raise more awareness and more funds for people who need it, more than we ever have.”

The Surrey version of Jackson’s hour-long, all-ages The Huron Carole will be shown Friday, Dec. 11 starting at 7 p.m., with tickets priced at $15, or $25 with VIP reception on the Zoom conference platform. In partnership with Surrey Civic Theatres, viewers can make an additional donation to Surrey Food Bank on the event webpage, found at surrey.ca.

The schedule of virtual tour dates is posted to huroncarole.ca, with additional B.C. events connected to charities in Kelowna, Campbell River and Victoria.

(Story continues below show trailer)

Jackson, a musician, actor and activist, has helped raise close to $230 million with his charitable initiatives over the years, leading to humanitarian awards, Red Cross ambassadorship and an Order of Canada induction.

The Huron Carole benefit, which has a goal of “defeating hunger, feeding the soul” based on Jackson’s signature song, was first performed at Toronto’s Silver Dollar bar in the late-1980s.

“Seems like a long time ago,” Jackson said with a laugh from his Calgary-area home. “It’s been a wonderful journey and it all continues to change, with new challenges and other things in the mix that have to be overcome, and every time you do that you learn something. This year we’re all in that program of reinventing ourselves to some degree, and this is no exception.”

That first benefit event in Toronto didn’t generate truckloads of cash, with only 200 people in the place, but it raised awareness of a need in the city, and helped set in motion the touring production and national TV special to come. The following year, Jackson saw a need for a show in Winnipeg, and it all grew from there.

“It didn’t start touring until I got to Calgary, because it was about figuring out how to do it both Winnipeg and Calgary, because I was living here in Calgary,” Jackson recalled. “I rallied a bunch of folks here and now all of a sudden we had two shows, and the next year we had four shows, and it became a tour that eventually morphed into a national television special for 10 years, and a tour.

“At some point we had a request, a lot of requests, to bring the show into smaller communities, so we relaunched it and renamed it Singing for Supper,” Jackson continued.

Eventually, The Huron Carole tour returned to Canada’s bigger cities.

“The model for so many years was the travelling cast and having guests on the show from the local communities, but at some point we decided we needed to ground the show so it would be the same show in every city, a traveling cast, within the last decade.”

(Story continues below video)

This year, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the concert was recorded by Jackson and his band of Vancouver-area musicians, including music director Tom McKillip, Darryl Havers, John MacArthur Ellis, Kirby Barber and Chris Nordquist. McKillip suggested Blue Frog Studios, and Jackson and his wife, project manager Alison Jackson, made their way west for the session.

“It was great, a great facility,” Jackson said. “It was a wonderful surprise, because originally we had planned to bring the band out to Calgary and set up a soundstage, so to speak. “But Tom said he did a thing out at Blue Frog where they have cameras and a nice stage, and that’s how it came to happen.”

Blue Frog operator Kelly Breaks was glad to host the band at a time when the studio was pretty much shut down.

“We used a bit of the audience floor as well, not only the stage,” Breaks recalled.

“It was surreal almost, because it was during a warm spell in the summer, beautiful weather, and here it was all decked out for Christmas. We had our patio doors opened, so people are walking by hearing some Christmas stuff going on, and some of them recognized Tom Jackson.”

The Canada Life-sponsored online show, produced by Tomali Pictures Ltd. and Joe Media Group, is billed as “a world-class concert experience intended to leverage fundraising opportunities for varied hosts.”

So far, the Surrey broadcast has attracted “a great response (and) lots of interest,” according to Kent Gallie, the city’s manager of performing arts. “The good thing about a virtual event is that people can tune in from the comfort of their living room, no matter where they live.”

For Jackson and company, the work now involves spreading word about the online edition of The Huron Carole.

“There’s always been a gap, and it’s greater this year than it’s ever been, that gap between the haves and the have-nots, and that’s why the food bank is there,” Jackson said. “I’m not skilled enough to solve the big picture, but I am a band-aid. The cliché is, if there’s no band-aid, how do you stop the bleeding? But I’m very happy to be that – don’t get me wrong. Yes, it’s working but we wish we didn’t have that issue. I’m glad to help.”

There may never be another Christmas quite like this Christmas, he noted.

“The need is never greater, as we’re in a battle with this virus and also with mental health,” Jackson added.

“This year we can help people at a time when they’re at home, to be happy at home and rekindle that Christmas spirit, the spirit that I remember when I was a kid. Yeah, I get it every year, but probably not like this year.”



tom.zillich@surreynowleader.com

Like us on Facebook Follow us on Instagram and follow Tom on Twitter

ConcertsFood BankMusic

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Friends and family of Paul Prestbakmo (from left: Barbara Calder, Leah Charles, Jimmy Slater, Angela Prestbakmo and Liz Prestbakmo) gather outside Surrey Provincial Court on Tuesday (Jan. 26, 2021). (Tracy Holmes photo)
South Surrey murder victim stabbed 42 times: pathologist

RCMP digital-evidence specialist also among witnesses

The White Birch proposal for a six-storey rental-only building at 1485 Fir St. was turned down by council on Monday night. (Contributed rendering)
White Birch developer feels ‘betrayed’ by City of White Rock council

Application for new rental building at 1485 Fir St. turned down by council

Record-setting high jumper Emma de Boer, who lives in Cloverdale and attends Holy Cross Regional High School in Fleetwood, will train and study architecture at the University of Pennsylvania (UPenn) next fall. (submitted photo)
Surrey jumper on a high after recruitment by UPenn track team

High jumper Emma de Boer aims to leave Cloverdale for Philadelphia next fall

Surrey RCMP Gang Enforcement Team street check. (File photo)
Surrey RCMP gang enforcement team seizes five vehicles

This was over 13 days, as SGET continues to target gang activity in this city

Dr. Penny Ballem, a former deputy health minister, discusses her role in leading B.C.’s COVID-19 vaccination program, at the B.C. legislature, Jan. 22, 2021. (B.C. government)
B.C. holds steady with 407 new COVID-19 cases Tuesday

14 deaths, no new outbreaks in the health care system

A Cessna 170 airplane similar to the one pictured above is reported to be missing off the waters between Victoria and Washington State. Twitter photo/USCG
Canadian, American rescue crews searching for missing aircraft in waters near Victoria

The search is centered around the waters northeast of Port Angeles

Jonathon Muzychka and Dean Reber are wanted on Canada-wide warrants. (Courtesy of Victoria Police Department)
Convicted killer, robber at large after failing to return to facility: Victoria police

Dean Reber, 60, and Jonathon Muzychka, 43, may be together

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

B.C. Premier John Horgan listens during a postelection news conference in Vancouver on Sunday, Oct. 25, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
30% of B.C. recovery benefit applications held up in manual review

The province says 150 staff have been reassigned to help with manually reviewing applications

Adam Dergazarian, bottom center, pays his respect for Kobe Bryant and his daughter, Gianna, in front of a mural painted by artist Louie Sloe Palsino, Tuesday, Jan. 26, 2021, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)
Kobe Bryant’s presence remains strong a year after his death

Tuesday marks the grim anniversary of the crash that took their lives

Modelling of predicted transmission growth from the B117 COVID-19 variant in British Columbia. (Simon Fraser University)
COVID-19 variant predicted to cause ‘unmanageable’ case spike in B.C: report

SFU researchers predict a doubling of COVID-19 cases every two weeks if the variant spreads

RCMP officers wearing face masks to curb the spread of COVID-19 stand by. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck)
RCMP appeal for witnesses after hit-and-run leaves girl, 17, in critical condition

The Metro Vancouver teenager was found unconscious and critically injured after being hit: police

The Brucejack mine is 65 km north of Stewart in northwestern B.C. (Pretivm Photo)
B.C. mine executives see bright gleam in post-COVID future

Low carbon drives demand for copper, steelmaking coal

Most Read