December 11th, 2018

Huron Carole brings focus to hunger

By Medicine Hat News on December 6, 2018.

Photo by Ronald Quitoriano
Tom Jackson brings his annual Huron Carole show to the Esplanade on Dec. 12. Jackson's performances across the country are fundraisers for local food banks and family service agencies.

Stan Ashbee

Special to the News

Tom Jackson’s The Huron Carole is coming to the Esplanade Dec. 12. For 31 years, this seasonal music tradition has toured Canada from coast-to-coast. The show features Jackson and an ensemble of musicians with the goal to raise funds for local food banks and family service agencies. The Calgary-based activist is the founder of The Huron Carole Benefit Series, a musician, beloved TV personality from “North of 60” and “Star Trek: The Next Generation,” and is a champion of the marginalized. Having experienced life on the streets himself, Jackson discovered music was a way to help others.

“This year’s show features a number of folks who actually met working on The Huron Carole,” Jackson noted.

Featured performers Darren Savard and Carly McKillip met doing the show and got married, Jackson explained. “Tom McKillip, who is on the show, is an award-winning producer, guitar player, arranger and he is Carly’s dad.”

According to Jackson, Craig Bignell and Sue Levesque — also featured performers on this year’s tour — met on The Huron Carole years ago and are married too. “And I’m going to be travelling with my wife, so it’s a real family affair,” he joked.

This year’s musical components of the show singularly, Jackson said, are fantastic and collectively, “you just have to let your imagination go and realize how wonderful and accomplished these musicians are.”

“When we get together and sing with one voice, with one purpose — it’s really quite spectacular.”

Jackson’s goal this year is to make sure everybody who comes to the show has an opportunity to take away from the thing he calls, “joy.”

“We all have a desire, we’re all compassionate, we’re all feeling that time of year — that we want to share things with our families, but we don’t always know what joy is.”

Jackson hopes audience members can keep joy for as long as they want or they can share it with someone. “Joy is an economy and love is an economy of the future. But if you don’t share it, it doesn’t have the same value.”

Traditionally, Jackson said, the show is designed to provide an opportunity to bring focus to hunger. “Hunger is an interesting thing in this country and it’s a silent disease. We like to encourage people coming to the show to pay attention and focus a little on their community and their food bank.”

In a lot of ways, Jackson said, the tour — from Newfoundland to British Columbia — focuses on helping agencies that work with the underprivileged in their communities.

“A lot of our locations, we contact organizations to see if they would be interested in being the beneficiary of ticket sales. In other cases, such as Medicine Hat, people hear about the show and they invite us to come to their community,” Jackson said.

Christmas is a short season, he added, so you can’t go outside the realm too much. “But once the season hits and once the momentum hits you’ve only got so many days you can actually perform Christmas.” The show and its initiatives has generated between $200-$250 million for food banks, crisis centres, agencies, and disaster relief.

What’s really important for Jackson to convey to his fans is his sense of love. “I love you because you have helped me do what I do. You help me help others. I think it’s a major function in our society to make sure we acknowledge those who are in the house that we make sure we can do something for them. Perhaps, if we can make them feel better, they might follow the lead and maybe help someone else feel better. And what if that someone else they help is a member of your family or your friends. For us, this means we don’t have to change the whole world, we only have to change ours,” Jackson said.

Jackson recently released a two-disc, 21-track retrospective entitled, “The Essential Tom Jackson.” He is currently an Ambassador for the Red Cross, was inducted as an Officer of the Order of Canada in 2000, received the 2007 Juno Humanitarian Award, the Governor General’s Performing Arts Award for Lifetime Artistic Achievement in 2014 and the 2007 Gemini Humanitarian Award.

Tickets are available at tixx.ca, by calling 403-502-8777 or in person at the Esplanade box office or the Medicine Hat Mall customer service desk.

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