THE 14th ANNUAL ANDY KIM CHRISTMAS
A CONVERSATION WITH ANDY KIM
“I do all the phone calls. I don’t think anyone would volunteer. So I get panicky in October that no one is going to show, then by November, they are all in,” says a very relaxed and wonderfully easy to talk with Andy Kim. Of course he is talking about the 14th annual Andy Kim Christmas Show, which takes place on December 5, 2018 in Toronto (Queen Elizabeth Theatre), Montreal on December 15 (Corona Theatre) and for the first time, Burlington on December 20 (Burlington Performing Arts Centre).
Andy Kim was born in Montreal and as he told me during a recent conversation, “I grew up in the tenements of Montreal, my parents both immigrants. Going to a concert was the biggest thing, you know I would sneak in or tag along with my brother. Music was my friend, my safety.”
He moved to New York City when he was in his teens to work at the famed Brill Building.
“When I first started with my first record, I was told, you are only as good as your last two minutes, thirty seconds. That two minutes, thirty seconds was everything. I was from Montreal and my saving grace was that I had no safety net. We lived in St. Denis in Montreal and in the summer they would shut the street and The Fly Wallendos would perform, with no safety net. I was in the same position, and I had no other skills. This is what you do when you are a singer songwriter.”
His big break came 1968 when he co-wrote and performed on the single “Sugar, Sugar” which hit number one and was identified by The Recording Industry Association of America as Record Of The Year. In 1970, he co-wrote the brilliant “Oh My My” for The Monkees. He developed a strong career with hits in 1969 (“Baby, I Love You”), in 1970 (“Be My Baby”). But it was in 1974 he had a worldwide hit with the classic “Rock Me Gently”. Now in 2018, besides The Andy Kim Christmas shows, Kim was honoured by being inducted into Canada’s Walk Of Fame.
“I was with Tom Cochrane, who said to me, ‘it’s about time’. But you know, God is always on time. Once you understand that, once you get that figured out, you know that before wasn’t the time. It is like a recipe, certain things happen when they happen. Believe in the process, not the time. But I am incredibly honoured.”
And that brings us to the Andy Kim Christmas Show.
“Christmas is a melancholy time for me, so what better way to distract yourself. There was never a plan, it was just a thought. There is a lot of sorrow this time of year, my Mom and Dad are not here. But this is something I picked up from my parents. They believed in community. Take time to help those in the community, others in my life. This has averted my attention.
“It is a difficult ask. Ron Sexmith is there every year, and there are core artists that bring other artists. Broken Social Scene have been there so many times. No one makes any money from this, no one gets paid. It is a spiritual time for us.”
And this year, Kim has been invited to bring his show to Burlington.
“I got a call from the Arts Centre in Burlington, and they said they would love to have the show too. They appreciated the charity aspect to it. So we will bring the show there.”
As with previous years, the show is eclectic to say the very least.
“Everyone I asked is coming. You know, I just enjoy being around the artists and enjoying their music. Radio was like that, all sorts of music. You could hear a song of mine, then The Doors or Led Zeppelin or whoever. So this year, in Toronto, we have Broken Social Scene, Billy Talent, Bif Naked, Hayden, Mary Margaret O’Hara, Theo Tams, and of course Ron Sexsmith. In Montreal, I will be joined by Coeur de pirate, Ron, Brad Barr of the Barr Brothers, La Force and Jake Clemons. The great thing is that fans of Bif will discover Mary or my fans will discover Billy Talent. There is no greater gift than someone discovering your songs.”
I can’t resist asking Kim why has not yet recorded a Christmas album, especially since this is the 14th year of his Christmas show.
“Year one, I thought I would like to do a Christmas album, and I was so determined. But life sidetracks you. I figured a long time ago I promised to record one at the beginning of the year, but you have to have it ready early in the year for a Christmas release. But all those things fall into place. Maybe you could call me and remind me before we get planning the 15th annual,” he laughs.
In all honesty, I will be calling him.
Andy Kim is a very generous and kind man. He gives his time and he gives his talent to these shows. The profits from the shows go to CAMH’s Gifts of Light program. (Toronto show) and Starlight Children’s Foundation Canada (Montreal). He has no ego, and nothing to prove at this stage. He has had the hits, and when he decides to record again, the hits will come again.
“I always go back to the old Mark Twain quote, ‘The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why.’ I am living my why.”