A very Merry Christmas it was to anyone lucky enough to attend the 11th Annual JR Digs Acoustic Christmas Concert, yet an even merrier Christmas to the many men and women who will benefit from the donations made from attendees. Anyone who has been to a JR Digs Christmas show would recognize many familiar faces, and feel the same energy yet this year brought an even bigger production, with 2 large stages, incredible decorations and a massive volunteer crew. It truly was a special night for fans of Canadian music as New vision Church saw performances from Hamilton legends Tom Wilson, Luke Bentham and Arkells, who have been a part of the event in previous years. The night also saw performances by Tim Hicks, members of The Trews, Aaron Goldstein, Tyler Kyte, Wayne Petite, Laura Cole and Hamiltons own Big Fir.
As JR mentioned during one of his many unscripted and often profane yet entertaining speeches between sets, there is always a special, unannounced guest. This year saw an acoustic version of S.O.S. by The Glorious Sons frontman Brett Emmons which brought the entire venue to its feet, singing and stomping to probably the catchiest rock song I’ve heard in quite some time. Other than the grand finale which saw 80% of the performers crammed on stage signing Oasis and Springsteen covers, my favourite performance was easily and by far The Beaches. Fresh off of playing The Grey Cup, female power rock band The Beaches brought more energy to that stage than I’ve ever seen, proving why they’ve managed to attain so much success and acclaim in what seems like so short a short career. Playing a brief set of 3 of their most popular tunes about halfway through the concert, the ladies absolutely rocked New vision, and the energy resonated for the rest of the night.
Although it’s easy to be completely entranced by nonstop performances from incredible musicians I did have to stop and think about the reason behind the event itself, and not allowing me to forget was JR himself who shared stories and gave us insight into the incredible generosity of businesses and citizens of Hamilton who donated money to the event. All the money donated, and acquired through ticket sales is either being given to multiple charities around the city, or handed out personally on the street by JR. Not only do we have attendees to thank, but the alcohol venders, volunteers, production company and every single musician who performed did not ask for a single dollar for their products, services or time. Going out for breakfast this morning I noticed the city seemed a little bit smaller, and I really appreciated how caring, generous, beautiful and in love with music our city can be, and how proud I am to be a Hamiltonian. Thank you to JR Digs for catering an incredible night of music for an amazing cause and thank you for the music and art scene of Hamilton for being so inclusive and full of talent.
Written by Levi Kertesz @levikertesz
Photography by Stephanie Montani @stephmontaniphotography