Monday, September 13, 2004

Gordon Lightfoot Returns to the Stage in Hamilton

Sep. 9, 12:49 EDT
Lightfoot's Hamilton concerts will benefit HHS
Graham Rockingham
The Hamilton Spectator

Canadian music legend Gordon Lightfoot will perform two special benefit concerts in Hamilton in November dedicated to the hospital that helped save his life.
The two shows, scheduled for Nov. 28 and 29 at Hamilton Place, will be the first complete concerts Lightfoot has staged in more than two years. They will also be the only full concerts the 65-year-old singer/songwriter plays this year.
Net proceeds from the more than 4,000 tickets likely to be sold for the shows will be donated to the Hamilton Health Sciences Foundation, the fundraising arm for McMaster University Medical Centre (MUMC) and its three sister hospitals in the city.
Lightfoot spent three months at MUMC after being struck down by a near-fatal aneurysm Sept. 7, 2002, shortly before he was to perform in his hometown of Orillia. He was flown by helicopter to McMaster where a team of doctors, led by MUMC chief of surgery Dr. Michael Marcaccio, fought to stem the flow of blood into his abdominal cavity. Lightfoot remained in a coma for almost six weeks.
A limited number of tickets have been set aside by Lightfoot so that hospital staff directly involved in his care will be able to attend the performances.
"We're thrilled and honoured," said Mike Farrell, CEO and president of the Hamilton Health Sciences Foundation.
"We're first of all thrilled that Gordon Lightfoot is up and able to do this again."
Farrell noted that the concerts, as well as bringing in cash, will raise the hospital's international profile.
Tickets for the Nov. 28 and 29 shows go on sale Saturday at 10 a.m. for $39.50 and $34.50 at the Copps Coliseum box office or through Ticketmaster.
Lightfoot has only performed briefly on two occasions in the past two years. Last month Lightfoot sang five songs during a solo appearance as part of a benefit to aid Peterborough flood victims. He also made an impromptu appearance this summer at the Mariposa Folk Festival in Orillia, but only performed one song.
For the Hamilton shows, Lightfoot will be performing with his full band. He will also be joined by opening act The Good Brothers.
Lightfoot first told The Spectator he hoped to play a benefit show for HHS in April. At the time, however, he said he would only return to performing if he was at least "98 percent" recovered from his illness.
He has great appreciation for the care he received at the hospital and affection for the city.
"The family atmosphere in that hospital is remarkable," he said. "It goes right through the staff and the people who go there. And, believe you me, I've seen lots of people, lots of people in pretty bad shape, come through those doors."
Rich Rakoczy, programming director for Hamilton Place and Copps Coliseum, said he's been handling queries from fans across North America since Lightfoot stated his intentions.

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Sep. 10, 12:59 EDT
Fine as fine can be, Mr. Lightfoot
Robert Howard
The Hamilton Spectator

A gentleman, it is said, always repays his debts. Gordon Lightfoot is doing that in a big way with not one, but two concerts in Hamilton in November to benefit Hamilton Health Sciences. It's his way of saying thank you to HHS's McMaster University Medical Centre which saved his life during a three-month stay in 2002.
A thank-you card to his doctors and nurses would probably have been adequate, but Lightfoot is using his great musical talent to show his appreciation in a big way. And a big deal it is: These are the only full concerts the Canadian music icon and legend will play this year and the sales of tickets (which seem underpriced at less than $40) will generate a nice chunk of change for the hospital foundation.
The fact that there's no need for Lightfoot to do this makes it all the more special. He's a classy, thoughtful guy.