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Elmira musician Jeff Poolton shifts into Christmas mode

After a yearlong break, local Elmira musician Jeff Poolton is back with his eleventh annual charity Christmas concert, Songs of the Season.

The show features selections from his holiday album, The Gifts of Christmas, which was recorded after a nudge from his father a number of years ago and has since solidified his connection to the genre. Influenced by things like The Tea Party and Led Zeppelin, his style can be described as having a Middle Eastern feel to it, apropos to the subject matter.

“The response has been huge to the Christmas album, in particular, so one of the other perks to the Songs of the Season concert is that it gives me a chance to showcase my versions of traditional Christmas songs,” he said. “I really enjoy the feeling of that kind of mystical feeling that I get from that style of music. The Christmas story according to biblical rhymes, is in the Middle East, so why not give the music the sort of feeling that will take you there?”

Opening with Do You Hear What I Hear? and closing with Silent Night, Poolton has packed his album set list with  holiday favourites.

Raising more than $10,000 since its conception in 2005 for organizations such as Women’s Crisis Services of Waterloo Region and KidsAbility Centre for Child Development,  Poolton – who was unsure if he would continue the concert – is shifting his focus to another group in need, his local church youth group.

The musician has his sight set on raising funds to send the youth  of St. George’s Anglican Church to a conference called CLAY (Canadian Lutheran and Anglican Youth), which looks to let youth explore their faith in unique and exciting ways.

“It is a big conference that happens every two years where kids across the country gather somewhere in Canada. Basically they call it a pilgrimage to wherever they are going, and then they have this huge conference with talks and music and all kinds of activities that are geared towards inspiring youth and their faith,” he explained.

Having been held in BC in 2014 and PEI in 2016, the conference is heading to Ontario, specifically Thunder Bay, for 2018.

Emceed by his brother, Reverend Paul Poolton, the evening is a mix of solo performances, audience participation and a little bit of choir performances from St. Georges of Forest Hill.

“People really enjoy the overall feeling – it is a way to get ready for Christmas,” he said. “I have always seen it as the kickoff for a lot of people for the Christmas season, so we just try to have a setting where people can sit and enjoy a Christmas concert and on occasion when they seem to need to have a bit of a stretch we stand them up and get them to sing something.”

Although the concert is free to attend, Poolton says they pass around the hat for a free-will offering to help generate funds for the cause.

Songs of the Season will be happening next Saturday, November 25, started at 7:30 p.m. at St. George’s of Forest Hill Anglican Church in Kitchener, a save the date can be found through a Facebook event on www.facebook.com/JeffPooltonMusic.

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