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

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

Just Posted

The District of Sooke has launched a new online community engagement platform, letstalksooke.ca, where residents can share feedback and stay up to date on projects and initiatives that are happening in their community. (Kevin Laird - Sooke News Mirror)
Sooke launches online engagement portal

The District of Sooke has launched a new online community engagement platform… Continue reading

Island Health declared a COVID-19 outbreak in two houses at the Mount St. Mary long-term care home on Wednesday. (Photo courtesy of Google Earth)
Island Health declares outbreak at Victoria long-term care home

Resident, staff member test positive for COVID-19 at Mount St. Mary facility

A peacock struts by a pair of lamb siblings at the Beacon Hill Children’s Farm, which remains closed to the public. (Don Descoteau/News Staff)
VIDEO: Victoria petting zoo optimistic about future after 13 months closed

Public helps non-profit Beacon Hill Children’s Farm with nearly $100,000 influx

Vancouver Island Connector and Tofino Bus is putting a 41-passenger electric bus through its paces in a three-month trial run between Nanaimo and Victoria. (Photo submitted)
Electric bus on trial run serving Victoria-to-Nanaimo route

Vancouver Island Connector and Tofino Bus trying out 41-seat electric coach for three months

Sewer construction will mean limited access to West Shore Parkway from Sooke Road for the next week. (Courtesy of the City of Langford)
West Shore Parkway access limited from Sooke Road

Crews working on sewer construction for the next week

A large crowd protested against COVID-19 measures at Sunset Beach in Vancouver on Tuesday, April 20, 2021. (Snapchat)
VIDEO: Large, police-patrolled crowds gather at Vancouver beach for COVID protests

Vancouver police said they patrolled the area and monitored all gatherings

A teacher-librarian in Nanaimo was fired in 2019 for checking out an age-inappropriate graphic novel to a student. The discipline agreement was published Wednesday, April 21. (News Bulletin file photo)
Nanaimo teacher-librarian fired for checking out too-graphic graphic novel to student

Teacher had been previously disciplined and suspended on two occasions

Aria Pendak Jefferson cuddles ChiChi, the family cat that ran away two years ago in Ucluelet. The feline was missing until Courtney Johnson and Barry Edge discovered her in the parking lot of the Canadian Princess earlier this month. Aria and her parents were reunited with ChiChi in a parking lot in Port Alberni. (SUSAN QUINN/ Alberni Valley News)
An Island girl’s wish is answered as her cat came back

Courtenay family reunited with cat that went missing in Ucluelet in 2019

FILE – The Instagram app is shown on an iPhone in Toronto on Monday, March 19, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graeme Roy
Judge acquits B.C. teen boy ‘set up’ on sex assault charge based on Instagram messages

The girl and her friends did not have ‘good intentions’ towards the accused, judge says

Kai Palkeinen recently helped a car stuck on the riverbed near the Big Eddy Bridge. While the car could not be saved, some of the driver’s belongings were. It’s common for vehicles to get stuck in the area due to significantly changing river levels from Revelstoke Dam. (Photo by Kai Palkeinen)
“I just sank a car’: Revelstoke resident tries to save vehicle from the Columbia River

Although it’s not permitted, the riverbed near the city is popular for off roading

Meng Wanzhou, chief financial officer of Huawei, walks down the street with an acquaintance after leaving B.C. Supreme Court during a lunch break at her extradition hearing, in Vancouver, B.C., Thursday, April 1, 2021. A judge is scheduled to release her decision today on a request to delay the final leg of hearings in Meng Wanzhou’s extradition case. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Rich Lam
B.C. judge grants Meng Wanzhou’s request to delay extradition hearings

Lawyers for Canada’s attorney general had argued there is no justification to delay proceedings in the case

B.C. Premier John Horgan announces travel restrictions between the province’s regional health authorities at the legislature, April 19, 2021. (B.C. government photo)
B.C. sees 862 more COVID-19 cases Wednesday, seven deaths

Recreational travel restrictions set to begin Friday

B.C. Finance Minister Selina Robinson is photographed following her budget speech in the legislative assembly at the provincial legislature in Victoria, Tuesday, April 20, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
B.C. budget lacks innovative drive, vision during uncertain times, say experts

Finance Minister Selina Robinson’s budget sets out to spend $8.7 billion over three years on infrastructure

Using panels kept cold by water circulating within them, B.C. researchers compared thermal comfort in 60 of the world’s most populous cities, including Toronto. (Lea Ruefenacht)
B.C. researchers use air conditioning to combat spread of COVID particles

Dr. Adam Rysanek and his team have proven a new worthwhile system – a mixture of cooling panels and natural ventilation

Most Read