A mixture of original material and holiday favourites will be foundat Saint John’s Rivercross Church tonight when local bluegrass-folk group Tomato Tomato performs. The show is a benefit for the Saint John-based Lyfe Aid organization, which travels to developing countries, including the Dominican Republic, Cuba and Peru, to provide life necessities including medication along with other items such as toothbrushes, pencils, toys and clothing.
Formed by husband and wife team John and Lisa McLaggan, John cites the important work being done by Lyfe Aid as the catalyst for the duo wanting to lend a hand in raising funds for the organization.
“It’s not just the work that Lyfe Aid does that resonated with us,” McLaggan says. “What left Lisa and I awe-struck what they do is the fact that volunteers working with the organization are paying out of pocket for travel expenses and accommodations. Funds raised by the organization are put towards getting medical supplies as well as the other items they distribute.”
McLaggan says the stories shared with him and his wife from the countries where Lyfe Aid does work were nothing short of devastating.
“If us playing a show can play a part in making sure Lyfe Aid is able to continue carrying out their work, we are happy to help out.”
After first making waves with their 2014 debut album So It Goes, Tomato Tomato released their highly anticipated follow-up effort, I Go Where You Go, before a sold-out crowd at Saint John’s Imperial Theatre this past June.
Considering it has been less than five years since the group first began playing, John says the fact they managed to sell-out the Imperial Theatre so relatively early in their career is still something that boggles their minds.
“That show and the response from the community were overwhelming. It’s nothing we ever could have conceived happening because just a couple of years ago, we had never played a music festival, let alone having played outside of Saint John. The support we’ve received over these last two years has been remarkable.”
Grateful that his band found an audience so quickly following the group’s debut effort, John admits that he and Lisa felt a bit of pressure while crafting I Go Where You Go, but managed to cast those fears aside, resulting in what is undoubtedly one of the finest releases from the province this year.
“We were definitely aware that there could be a few more eyes and ears fixated on us this time around, but we didn’t let any kind of insecurities find their way into the music. The process of making this album was different from our debut in the sense that we didn’t nitpick the fine details as much. We wanted the music to retain an organic feeling throughout.”
While the group has maintained a fairly full plate over the course of the last seven months, they recently had the opportunity to perform a pair of shows in Australia. Tomato Tomato was one of six Canadian acts that were invited to showcase during Australian Music Week.
Joking the shows will prove to be a tough record to beat in terms of total distance travelled, John says the experience is something they aren’t likely to forget anytime soon. According to John, the reception afforded to the group was so positive, one Australian blogger declared the group was one of seven highlights from the festival.
“It was an opportunity that completely arrived out of the blue. The travel aspect of the trip went exceptionally well, plus we had some time to take in some of the sights in Sydney. Culturally speaking, Lisa and I noticed a lot of similarities between Canadians and Australians. As soon as we walked off the plane, it felt like we were home. The people there were incredibly nice, and, just like here in the Maritimes, it was common for total strangers to start talking with you,” John says with a chuckle.
What: Tomato Tomato
When: Thursday Nov. 24, 7 p.m.
Where: Rivercross Church, 61 Forbes Dr., Saint John
Tickets are $20. Advance tickets are available at Nela’s Kitchen (157 Hampton Rd., Rothesay), Grand Bay Guardian Drug Store (114 River Valley Dr., Grand Bay-Westfield), Millidgeville Circle-K Irving (701 Millidge Ave., Saint John) and online at tomatotomato.bandcamp.com/merch.