May 23rd, 2024

Tom Jackson on tour: Stories, Songs and Santa Causes set for next week

By Cal Braid - Lethbridge Herald Local Journalism Initiative Reporter on November 22, 2022.

Tom Jackson will be at the Enmax Centre on his Canadian charity tour "Stories, Songs & Santa Causes." Photo by Craig Koshyk

Tom Jackson is a well-known face in the Canadian entertainment business. On Nov. 29 the singer-songwriter, actor, and activist will be at the Enmax Centre with a show that’s “designed to get you out of your funk, and for you to help us save lives,” according to his press release.

It’s a pre-holiday Canadian charity tour called Stories, Songs & Santa Causes. Jackson will be accompanied by B.C. Country Music Association Hall-of-Fame producer, Tom McKillip, on guitar and saxophone, and award-winning producer/multi-instrumentalist John MacArthur Ellis on guitar and mandolin.

Jackson told the Herald that “The focus of the show is to find a corridor that needs to be opened. What I mean by that is we have waited as human beings the last two years with this toxic trickster called COVID. What we hope to accomplish is to bring joy to a place that hasn’t had joy for some time. Happy is healthy, and healthy is happy. We want to make people healthy, to bring laughter. We want them to have received a social prescription, not a pill. It will help their mindset and it will help my mindset to believe in the verb love. There’s love the word and there’s love the verb. What we hope to do is bring the verb to people.”

Jackson’s career and achievements are wide-ranging and impressive. He’s a highly-decorated Canadian entertainer who is a lot more than an entertainer. Social causes and activism are a huge part of his makeup. At 74, Jackson’s efforts have raised an estimated $250 million in cash and in-kind donations for food banks and disaster relief since the 1980s, according to the release.

In conversation, he didn’t mention big numbers, preferring to discuss his ground-level work with the Red Cross, Alpha House, and other social services. His only specific mention of dollars and cents was during a discussion about the Unison Benevolent Fund, which provided emergency relief services to the Canadian music community during COVID. He said, “When COVID hit, I never actually made a penny for a whole year. Not one cent. Now that’s me, and I’m a fortunate guy.”

He has worked on the streets of Calgary with the Downtown Outreach Addictions Partnership-known as the DOAP team. The DOAP team is a branch of Alpha House, a street-level shelter and detox.

“For two years I took regular shifts on the DOAP team. It’s still deep in my heart because working with the team, and my dear clients and friends gave me oxygen. I continue to support that team, because without oxygen I would cease to exist.”

He’s also an ambassador for the Red Cross, a role that began during the floods of 2014. Jackson and a friend decided they needed to do something to help.

“So, we went out, and I was just in the way. The Red Cross said, ‘Maybe you can help us, so that we’re on the same page at the same time.’ I said, ‘Okay, what would that look like?'” The Red Cross asked him to be an ambassador. “We scratched our heads; what would an ambassador do?” The following year as fires were burning parts of western Canada to the ground he went into affected communities. “I was tasked by circumstance with just spotting people who were stressed out,” he said. “I would talk to them, and they had messages to deliver. I became their messenger. More importantly I became an ear for them and what that did was it brought some peace to them. There’s a whole world of creating health which I am much more aware of than I was right at that moment.”

Both the Red Cross and DAOP team will receive donations from the tour and his stated goal is, “We hope to not just have people celebrate Christmas and all that it represents to them, but to be Christmas.”

The tour begins Nov. 24 in Edmonton and moves west to east, wrapping up on Dec. 16 in St. John’s.

Stories, Songs and Santa Causes hits the Lethbridge Enmax on Nov. 29.

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