(Kelly Authier performing as part of The S’Aints during the annual Sleighing Hunger concert fundraiser inside The Colosseum at Caesars Windsor on Friday, Dec. 21, 2018. Photo above by Maximus Reid.)
On Friday night (Dec 21), with a smile as wide as his drum kit, Tea Party drummer Jeff Burrows makes his last beat. Amid a storm of gently falling coloured bits of paper shot into the air, he and the best pick-up band anywhere, and one of the hardest working local philanthropic groups, proves again, and conclusively, Windsor has a kind heart. For another year The S’Aints have taken over The Colosseum at Caesars Windsor and played a most magical mix of traditional Christmas and beloved rock favourites from the likes of Joe Cocker, Paul McCartney and John Lennon among others.
Singularly, among a night of incredible music, a highlight was Burrows’ Tea Party band mate Jeff Martin, armed with a double six string and twelve string guitar, animating musically the haunting lyrics of Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah.
“Well, maybe there’s a God above. But all I’ve ever learned from love, was how to shoot somebody who outdrew ya. And it’s not a cry that you hear at night. It’s not somebody who’s seen the light. It’s a cold and it’s a broken Hallelujah.”
Times are tough in Windsor, and during such times the city pulls together. Sadly, the audience of almost 5,000 heard, food banks are not just for emergencies. They are now a staple of survival for many. St. Clair College’s President Patti France accentuated the point. “Hunger,” she said, “is no longer a seasonal situation.”
St. Clair College and Caesars Windsor joined together to host the event. According to France, her school has never been technically known as a community college, but events like Sleighing Hunger shape her organization’s true nature.
Friday’s S’Aints’ concert was the most successful, financially, of all, raising more than $66,000 so 16 food banks can stock their shelves to feed 7,000 local citizens and children.
To help out, as usual, there were more on stage musicians and singers to help the band out, including the 40 member all ages choir, the Sinners, although their only sin, if it is such, was perfect harmony. There was also the Windsor Optimist Youth Band marching in to the tune of the Little Drummer boy with a few drummers of their own.
There are two things to know about the S’Aints. One is the incalculable excellence of Jeff Burrows. He brings the same level of controlled manic drumming that put the Tea Party on the map and he does it with such profundity. The other is the so-called Twisted Sisters, aka the Lady S’aints, Liz Robinson and Stephanie Baker. It is their fourth year as the band’s back-up singers and their lovely uncompromising melodic voices added so much to the night.
With that being said, as the band’s lead singer Jody Raffoul made it clear, there are so many more volunteers who made it happen. Raffoul himself delivered a rousing Norman Greenbaum Spirit in the Sky, a crowd favourite, which really set the tone for an evening accentuated with the tireless work of pianist Kelly Authier. Her high octane voice proved so uncompromising. It was also Authier who put together the Sinners, a deed done to perfection.
A night of superlative performances included some of the best work of saxophonist Kelly Hoppe, guitarist Wes Buckley and bassist David Cyrenne. They gave their all and the audience went wild. And of course, who can forget the Horns of Dilemma, adding a richness to the event that comes with a full horn section.
Burrows is known not only for his exceptional drumming but for his un-daunting works of charity and fundraising ventures. So it is no surprise early next year he will rejoin the Tea Party and the crew will travel from town to town. Their Black River Tour will bring them to Caesar’s Colosseum on April 18. True to spirit the concert will benefit the Windsor Cancer Research Corporation.
Article by Robert Tuomi
For over a decade, Robert has covered local news and community events. Initially as a contributor to CBC Radio’s local morning show and then as the long-time producer and host of CJAM’s The Rest of the News and as a journalist at the Windsor Square. A graduate of the Nikon School of Photography he enjoys illustrating his reports with what he sees through his camera’s lens.
Photographs by Maximus Reid
Maximus Reid is a “Rock n Roller at heart” with a passion for high quality concert photography and making whoever is on the other end of his lens look “bad ass.” His photography services vary from portraits, and fashion, to family sessions. He can be contacted online through his Maximus Reid Photography website, Facebook page, and Instagram.