Every year on December 18, Vancouverites gather together to celebrate both the holiday season and the birthday of one of rock and roll’s biggest icons: Keith Richards.
Appropriately titled Keithmas, the charity concert sees nine bands performing their favourite Rolling Stones, or Keith Richards songs, with all proceeds benefitting the Greater Vancouver Foodbank Society. The occasion, which has quickly become one of Vancouver’s most entertaining traditions, is back for its sixth installment this year. And just like its namesake (who turns an impossible 72 this year), the event is poised to rock harder than ever before.
“It’s cool to see a guy who’s 72 still rockin’ and rollin’,” John Hewer, co-founder of Keithmas, says of the Rolling Stones guitarist. “It’s inspiring for the rest of us.” Hewer, with fellow Hidden Charms promoter James Hayden, began the event in 2010, featuring five local bands and raising about $500 for the Foodbank. Growing exponentially each year, their goal this time is to hit $10,000. “We’ve raised around $15,000 so far,” Hewer says. “And food as well, too… We always end up taking a number of boxes of food as well, with the cash.”
Keithmas, which will be held at the Rickshaw Theatre next month, is set to feature a mixed bag of musicians with both returning favourites and new additions to the bill. “There are a lot of local bands that have been with us since the day we started,” Hewer says. “Rich Hope started with us and he’s been there every year. Chris Reed from La Chinga has played every year but one, in a couple different variations.” Other acts will include the Wild North, the Ballentynes, the Jolts, and brothers Ryan Dahle (Mounties, Limblifter) and Kurt Dahle (the New Pornographers, Limblifter), who’ll deliver a joint performance Hewer confesses he’s “really excited about.”
While bands take onstage swigs from a giant bottle of Jack Daniels (Keef’s longtime drink of choice) Hewer and his team is working to secure specials of Richards’ new favourite tipple – a curious concoction of Tang, vodka, and Fanta called Nuclear Waste. What’s more, one lucky patron may be able to take home a piece of the human riff himself. “We’ve secured a pair of Keith Richards’ pants,” Hewer says, adding that he got the trousers from a friend who’s a tour manager. “We’re either going to raffle them off or having a bidding war, we’re not sure yet.”
Whether you’re there for charity, for the bands, or to wish happy birthday to the man once called “mad, bad, and dangerous to know,” Keithmas is a guaranteed good time. “It’s like when you’re a kid,” Hewer says. “Except we don’t wait for Christmas anymore, we wait for Keithmas.”
When: Friday, December 18
Where: Rickshaw Theatre – 254 East Hastings Street
Tickets: Available online for $15