What began as a spontaneous idea from a dude with some famous friends wanting to do good with a couple dozen people has turned into an annual tradition of epic proportions for comedian and TV personality JR Digs. Some eleven years ago, Digs thought it’d be cool to gather up a couple of local musicians, offer a special intimate event and raise some money for a charity. Over the last decade the venues changed because of the demand and now the 800 tickets available for the event sell out weeks in advance and in a matter of minutes. This week, JR Digs again leads an ever–growing collection of famous musicians for an intimate and extraordinary evening of music on the day before the day before Christmas.
“This year was crazy and I think the tickets sold out in like two minutes,” says Digs. “It was shocking but I guess it’s a new world with everyone on their phone and get your tickets sent to you with a click. We usually sell the tickets in three waves and each were sold out in a couple of minutes and we were done.
With such demand and perhaps with a desire to inspire more people to give back as well, Digs promotion leading up to the event also includes the 12 Good Deeds Days of Acoustic Xmas.
“It’s tough to get tickets now because we’re in a smaller venue for an acoustic type show, which is the way we like it and we’ve always done it but people are looking for tickets,” says Digs. “I’d like to help everyone out but because that’s not possible — if you do a good deed, whether that’s opening a door for someone or buying someone a coffee or saying something nice — anything that puts positivity into the community, I want to hear about it on my social media. Every and all acts of kindness make our community a stronger more positive place to live and so when you tag me or send me a social media post on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram. It’s inspiring to see everybody’s stories and I put the names of those people in a toque and draw one a day leading up to the event so that they get a chance to buy a pair of tickets. It’s not much of a giveaway but we’re trying to raise as much money for charity. It’s just me and a bunch of my pals and they happen to be talented and people want to listen to them — but the point is to raise money for people that need help at this time of year. The prize is a chance to buy tickets but it’s also encouraging people to make the city better — it doesn’t have to be something extravagant, it could be a simple kind gesture. I want to fill the hall with a bunch of friends and some beautiful, kind people and I think that makes for a great night.
“The lineup has grown over the last few years so we’ve got tons of Hamilton greats and a few pals of mine from out of town and last year as a special surprise, we brought out Gord Sinclair from the Tragically Hip and a bunch of people helped plays some great Hip songs,” adds Digs. “It was an amazing, touching moment for everyone that lead into our big finale where a whole bunch of different people close the event in a Last Waltz style sing along. We have special guests again this year but I can’t tell you who because that’d ruin the surprise. It’s just such a fun night that’ll start earlier with some pre–dinner at Radius and some pre–drinking at Odds and Born and Raised. Things start at 8 pm at the hall and then after the show people can go to the secret location for our afterparty. Tickets for that afterparty event could still be available.”
This year, with the growth of the event Digs will be raising money for a variety of beneficiaries including the YWCA, the Cancer Assistance Program, St. Matthew House, Carpenter Hospice as well as other community charities.
“The first year, we passed a hat but over the years, we’ve been able to raise a bit more money — well, a lot,” says Digs. “What’s that allowed us to do is to support more and different charities. As we raise more money, the more opportunity we have to give to funds to charitable organizations that really need it this time of year. I’m proud that so many people have gotten behind my little idea and that we’re able to put on such a great show and help so many people out but in the end it feels like it did eleven years ago. It’s just me and my buds getting together for a good time, raising as much money as we can and giving it all away. Hopefully the people that come get to kick off their Christmas season and if you didn’t get tickets, there’s always next year.”
JR Digs’ Eleventh Annual Acoustic Xmas Concert happens Monday December 23 with the Brad Germain Bunch, Laura Cole, members of The Beaches, Jon Harvey (Monster Truck), Tim Hicks, members of the Trews, Wayne Petti (Cuff the Duke), Tyler Kyte (Dwayne Gretzky), Tom Wilson, Luke Bentham (The Dirty Nil), Max Kerman (Arkells) and special surprise guests. Click on jrdigs.com or @Jrdigs on twitter.com or instagram.com