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)

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

Victoria broadcast date is Friday, Dec. 8, to benefit Mustard Seed 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 areas of Canada on select dates, as part of a 33rd-annual effort to raise money to feed people in need.

“I think it will raise more awareness and more funds for people who need it, more than we ever have,” Jackson said.

For Victoria, the all-ages Huron Carole shows Tuesday, Dec. 8 at 7 p.m. using Zoom.

The schedule of virtual tour dates is posted to huroncarole.ca, with additional B.C. events.

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.”

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.”

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,” he 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

Just Posted

HMCS Corner Brook returned to Victoria’s waters for the first time since 2015 on June 10. (Courtesy of the Royal Canadian Navy)
WATCH: Navy surveillance submarine returning to Victoria waters

HMCS Corner Brook one of first submarines to receive new communications systems

The BC Ferries website went down for a short while Monday morning following a provincial announcement that recreational travel between health authorities can resume Tuesday. (Black Press Media file photo)
BC Ferries’ website crashes following provincial reopening announcement

Recreational travel between health regions to resume as of Tuesday

A new multi-family residential project at the corner of Hillside Avenue and Cook Street will feature nine below market-priced units aimed at middle-income, first-time homebuyers, through a partnership between BC Housing and the developer. (Courtesy City of Victoria)
Middle-income first time homebuyers gain access to nine homes in Victoria

BC Housing partners with development community to create affordable purchases

(Black Press Media file photo)
Copper piping missing, as suspect found with tools in Oak Bay commercial block

Police briefs include missing dinghy, speed stop turned impaired, wallet swiped from unlocked car

(Black Press Media file photo)
COVID-19 exposure closes Oak Bay pub, restaurant

Penny Farthing, Vis-a-Vis expected to reopen Wednesday after deep clean

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau participates in a plenary session at the G7 Summit in Carbis Bay, England on Friday June 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada donating 13M surplus COVID-19 vaccine doses to poor countries

Trudeau says the government will pay for 87 million shots to be distributed to poor countries

Neighbours fight a small late-night bush fire with garden hoses and shovels in Cinnabar Valley on June 5. They couldn’t get help from local fire services because the fire was located in an area under B.C. Wildfire Services jurisdiction. (Photo courtesy Muriel Wells)
Neighbours on edge of Nanaimo city limits left to put out bush fire themselves

Cinnabar Valley residents tackle fire with hoses and buckets for two and a half hours

Darren Campbell’s truck (pictured) was stolen when he stopped to check on a car in a ditch on Cowichan Bay Road on Monday morning. (Facebook photo)
Vancouver Island Good Samaritan’s truck stolen in nasty trick

‘Try to be a Good Samaritan and my $20,000 truck gets stolen right under my nose’

The Kamloops Indian Residential School is photographed using a drone in Kamloops, B.C., Monday, June, 14, 2021. The remains of 215 children were discovered buried near the former school earlier this month. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Communities grapple with what to do with former residential and day schools

Some tear them down as a tool to help healing, others repurpose them as tools for moving forward

Creative handmade signs abound at the June 13 Tofino rally for old growth trees. (Nora O’Malley photo)
VIDEO: Tofino stands in solidarity for Fairy Creek Blockades

Over 150 supporters attend rally hosted by Friends of Clayoquot Sound

FILE – Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry talks about B.C.’s plan to restart the province during a press conference at Legislature in Victoria, Tuesday, May 25, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
B.C. officials watching U.K.’s Delta variant struggles, ‘may need to slow’ restart plan

Studies show that one dose of vaccine is only 33 per cent effective in preventing B.1.617.2 spread

RCMP Const. Shelby Patton is shown in this undated handout photo. RCMP say that Patton was hit by an allegedly stolen truck that he had pulled over on Saturday morning in Wolseley, east of Regina. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO, RCMP
Pair charged in Saskatchewan Mountie’s death make first court appearance

Const. Shelby Patton was hit by an allegedly stolen truck that he had pulled over Saturday morning

David and Collet Stephan leave for a break during an appeal hearing in Calgary on Thursday, March 9, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Todd Korol
Appeal Court rejects stay for Alberta couple facing third trial in son’s death

Pair accused in their earlier trials of not seeking medical attention for their son sooner

Highway notices like this come down effective June 14. Public health restrictions on non-essential travel and commercial operation have hit local businesses in every corner of B.C. (B.C. government)
Province-wide travel back on in B.C.’s COVID-19 restart plan

Gathering changes include up to 50 people for outdoor events

Most Read