Local acts sink their Keith into annual fundraiser in honour of Stones guitarist

Seventh annual Keithmas benefit concert supports the Greater Vancouver Food Bank

You know you’ve arrived as a legitimate party when event organizers come into possession of not one, but two pairs of custom-made jeans worn by Rolling Stones guitarist Keith Richards.

Such was the case around this time last year, when John Hewer raffled off the Italian-made trousers as part of the sixth instalment of Keithmas, a yearly fundraiser for the Greater Vancouver Food Bank that’s centred around all things Keith.

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Hewer got the slacks from a mutual friend who worked multiple Rolling Stones tours, though party pants won’t be in the offing for this year’s fundraiser. Instead, a Fender Telecaster, a guitar amp and pedal — all of which are central to Richards’ signature sound — will be up for grabs come Dec. 16 at the Rickshaw Theatre.

“In a nutshell, Keithmas is a celebration of Keith Richards’ life and his lifestyle to a lesser degree,” Hewer said. “But it’s also a celebration of the holiday season.” 

Bif Naked headlines the list of acts at Keithmas VII and she’ll be performing alongside Rich Hope and the Evil Doers, La Chinga, Sister Morphine, Greenback High and “neo psyche” outfit Orange Kyte, among others. Last year’s gig raised $12,500 and more than $30,000 has been raised since Keithmas’ inception in 2010.

All of the acts perform tunes Richards has had his hands on, and year after year, the bands play for free. Rickshaw owner/general manager Mo Tarmohamed has also waived the room rental fee, which is in the hundreds of dollars, for the festivities.

“We’ve approached a number of rooms in the past and they always want something,” Hewer said. “It’s not like we’re against paying, but we’re trying to raise money here. If we have to shell out $2,000 it kind of defeats the purpose. Nobody has ever asked for a penny. I think it says a lot of about the bands.”

The first kick at the Keithmas can netted $800 and five boxes of food. Held at the Fairview, the gig was well attended but didn’t sell out. The show has since outgrown its former homes at the Fairview and Electric Owl, and returns to the Rickshaw for the second straight year.

DOA’s Joe Keithley, Colin James and the Odds are among the Keithmas alumni, though one constant over the last seven years has been Rich Hope and the Evil Doers.

“It’s so fun to do and the vibe has gotten better every year,” Hope said. “Donating your time for a cause like the Food Bank, it’s a very direct way to give. You know where the money is going and you know that it’s doing some good right here in your town.”

Keithmas VII — A Food Bank Fundrager kicks off with doors at 7 p.m. on Dec. 16. Tickets are available online for $15 plus service charges at ticketweb.ca, or in person at Red Cat Main, Red Cat Hastings, Zulu, Highlife and Neptoon​.

For info, see facebook.com/events/1255071171190724.




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