My name is John-Angus MacDonald and I play in a band from Canada called The Trews. This year we are honoured to be taking part in the 2018 CP Holiday Train. To be honest, I had never heard of the Holiday Train when we were offered the opportunity to hop on board. I did a little digging and it turns out that this thing has been up and running for 20 years! And what it has grown into, and managed to accomplish, is something truly spectacular. Here’s the long and the short of it – CP rail decks out a 12 car train in elaborate Christmas lights and decorations and takes it across the US and Canada making stops along the way where it stages massive events to raise money and food for local food banks. And they aren’t messing around with this, over the past twenty years they’ve managed to raise more than $14.5 million dollars and over 4.3 million pounds of food for local food banks. That’s a whole lotta giving at a time of year when people need it most.
But the coolest part, for me anyway, is the stage car. As a highlight of the event (as if a 12 car train decked out in the most elaborate Christmas lights you’ve ever seen isn’t highlight enough!!) they have a car at the centre of it all that is a full on concert stage complete with state of the art sound and lights. Once the train is pulled in to its destination the side of the stage car comes down and we appear and put on a concert for the thousands that have come down to support this initiative that has become a yearly tradition in the communities that it rolls through. For our set we’ve been doing a mix bag of some of our better known tunes as well as some of our favourite Christmas jams to keep things festive. It’s a ton of fun and the spirit of the whole thing is so generous and celebratory that the vibe stays very positive for performer and audience alike.
We are only one in a long line of bands and musicians who have committed their names to this both this year (this particular tour makes 164 stops this year and we are only doing a two week leg of it!) and in previous years and it feels really good to be continuing this great legacy and to be giving something back at the same time.
Too many of our friends and neighbours are struggling to put food on their tables at the best of times and that problem only gets amplified during the holidays season when there is so much extra financial stress. So to see people open their wallets and pantries and give so generously really warms the heart.
Plus it’s SUPER cool to be on tour by train! I highly recommend it. I’m writing this as we ride south on the rails through Iowa destined for Kansa City, MO. Everything we need is contained in these walls. We are comfy, cozy and well fed and three or four times a day we make our way to the stage car and bring a little joy into people’s lives through music—not a bad life at all!
So if you’re thinking of coming out to any of the stops along the way I highly urge you to do so and if you’re fortunate enough to have a little extra this year bring it along to donate it to your fellow community member. It’s what the spirit of this season is all about after all!
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