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Dan Aykroyd and Donnie Walsh. Photo courtesy The Ottawa Mission.

Blue Door at Your Door blues benefit supports the Ottawa Mission—11.07.20

By Terry Steeves on November 6, 2020

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The Ottawa Mission has been a mainstay in our community, supporting the homeless, the cold, the addicted, and the lost since they first opened their doors in 1906. They have not only provided needed shelter for Ottawa’s destitute, but are a beacon of hope with their provision of health, dental, and housing services, mental health and addiction treatment programs, hospice care, educational support, job training, spiritual care, and men’s clothing to thousands in need. Their annual Blue Door Gala, which raises funds to support the Mission, faced a challenge this year due to COVID-19. The creation of Blue Door At Your Door is really a heartwarming story of how one community pooled their resources together to come up with a solution. Ottawa Mission Senior Events Officer Jenn Graves told Apt613 how it came about:

“We knew we had to pivot and come up with something, so I reached out to Derek Nicholson, a member of our steering committee from Nicholson Gluckstein, for help. He was completely onboard and knew just the people he could bring together to help put together a show featuring Canadian performers. With his many contacts in the music and production industry, he brought in the following people, and assigned them each a role:

Todd Littlefield – Diesel Management (Executive Producer)
Dick Cooper – Cooper Brothers (Producer/Writer)
Chris Paine – freelance videographer/producer/director (Director/Editor)
Derek Nicholson – Nicholson Gluckstein (Associate Producer)
Angelo Tsarouchas (Host)
Jenn Graves – Ottawa Mission (Production Coordinator)

“The event has always been called the Blue Door Gala, named after the Ottawa Mission’s blue front door. We thought giving it a blues theme would be perfect and we renamed the event Blue Door At Your Door. It all became a very quick transformation, and we are very fortunate to have a great partnership with CTV, who helped make this happen. They were also able to collect some beautiful stories about the Mission and obtain sponsorships. In fact, all donations will be matched up to $75,000.”

Blue Door At Your Door, a special televised telethon-style one-hour show presented by Caivan Communities, will feature performances by the Downchild Blues Band (with special guests Dan Aykroyd, Paul Shaffer, David Wilcox, Kenny Neal, Gene Taylor, and Erja Lyytinen), Colin James, Big Sugar, Sass Jordan, Matt Andersen, MonkeyJunk, and Dawn Tyler Watson. In between performances, host Angelo Tsarouchas will guide us through touching success stories of transformed lives, exciting Ottawa Mission expansion news, and a talk about their hospice.

Dan Aykroyd and Donnie Walsh. Photo courtesy The Ottawa Mission.

To me, that’s one of the reasons that we need music… to galvanize people, to come together in the service of each other.

Apt613 spoke with Canada’s Queen of Rock, Sass Jordan, whose acoustic performance featuring songs from her latest album, Rebel Moon Blues, will include recent footage from her September 2020 TD Toronto Jazz Festival show. She shares her profound thoughts on how music can be a powerful tool, especially in the times we are facing.

“To me, that’s one of the reasons that we need music… to galvanize people, to come together in the service of each other, or a cause, or of life in general. Music is such a powerful medium. It’s the intention you have when you’re performing. In my case, music is about joy, love, community, family, service, and my own self-expression and creativity. I feel that my job is to focus on the positive with the tools that I’ve been given.”

We also spoke with songwriter/lead singer/lead guitarist Gordie Johnson of Big Sugar about their very special performance contribution to the show, which will include a couple of classics and one from their new album, Eternity Now. 

It’s a thrill to be included along with everyone else on this bill… it’s going to be a really great event. Although the pandemic has sidelined everything in live music, I cannot help but stop and think about people who are less fortunate. There are people that are hurting out there, so if we can help by doing music, then that’s a wonderful thing. Through the magic of technology, we created a performance just for the event. I was able to get everyone in the group to send me their footage, which I put all together in my studio.”

There are people that are hurting out there, so if we can help by doing music, then that’s a wonderful thing.

A big component of the funds raised goes to support the Mission’s Food Service Training Program, a five-month training program that literally takes people off the street and transforms their lives. The show will also announce their recent expansion to include the former Rideau Bakery, which will now serve as the new location for the Food Service Training Program.

Jenn Graves added an appropriate finishing touch with her comment: “I think everyone could use a good hour of fun and entertainment right now.” And she’s right. Music has and always will be the universal language that heals, that can be used for a good cause, and that keeps us together in a time of crisis. Please tune in, and if you can, please donate.


Blue Door At Your Door will air this Saturday, November 7, at 8pm on CTV, and can also be viewed on the Ottawa Mission’s YouTube channel.  For more details, check out the Ottawa Mission website

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