Tom Jackson’s The Huron Carole is going after higher stakes this year in an effort to feed the hungry.
For 28 years, Jackson has toured Canada with Christmas-time concerts that raise money for local food banks. Attending these philanthropic shows had become a holiday tradition for many families.
But that tradition is taking a new twist this year towards corporate sponsorship by turning The Huron Carole into a $200-a-plate gala on Friday, Dec. 4, at the Harvest Centre’s Marquis Room at the Westerner.
Jackson said there was a need to think of new ways to continue the annual fundraiser in future — with or without his involvement.
“We had to think of a model that could carry on whether Tom Jackson gets hit by a bus… I know we don’t like to think about it, but we will always get hit by a bus someday…”
Since he’s had a lot of success with the gala model of fundraiser in Calgary, where $920,000 was raised over four years for Hull Child and Family Services, Jackson feels it’s possible to hold similarly successful exclusive benefits for food banks — although it will take time to build a different audience.
He believes interest in The Huron Carole galas will pick up steam over the next few years— if local food banks begin reaching out to local corporations “to get them rallying around this.” Food banks will also get a number of free tickets to the annual gala to distribute to people who use their services.
This year’s event in Red Deer will include a 6 p.m. reception, followed by dinner and entertainment.
But the idea behind the musical evening remains the same as ever, said Jackson. “We want to create an entertaining evening of celebration that rediscovers the spirit of Christmas.”
It will feature a multi-media musical play starring singer/guitarist Jackson, along with Vancouver singer/percussionist Shannon Gaye and Bulgarian-born pianist Kristian Alexandrov.
The plot deals with mythical characters in modern times, who connect with the spirit of giving: A cat, a donkey, a little girl and an old Indian storyteller will share a secret.
“The story is one of a homeless guy who goes on a mystical journey… There will be a lot of technical pieces and musical pieces,” said Jackson, who believes the effect on the audience will be magical.
The performer, who was once homeless himself, has a long history of altrusim. His latest album, Ballads Not Bullets will help support the Canadian Red Cross. Tickets to the 6 p.m. gala are $204.20 from the Black Knight Ticket Centre.