London sax man joins Diana tribute
Wed, June 20, 2007
By JAMES REANEY, SUN MEDIA
London sax man Aaron Macdonald will be playing Motown for a great cause at the Grand on Friday -- and then he's off to Europe and the Concert for Diana.
"It's absolutely amazing. I'm in a different mode at this point. I'm just trying to focus on the task at hand," Macdonald says of his duo gig with ex-Supertramp star Roger Hodgson at Wembley Stadium on July 1.
Macdonald has played about 80 gigs with Hodgson in recent years. The concert honouring the late Diana, Princess of Wales -- and a bill including Sir Elton John, Kanye West and Nelly Furtado -- is surely the biggest.
"The one they haven't announced is Paul McCartney," says Macdonald who has been told about the former Beatle joining the concert.
Hodgson and Macdonald are to play a six-minute spot ending with Hodgson's Give a Little Bit.
"That's Roger's mantra -- 'give a little bit, open your heart.' "
Macdonald is also focused on Friday's benefit, where Hodgson's song could apply too. Macdonald is in the band at the Grand House Party, a major fundraiser for Women's Community House. All proceeds help Women's Community House provide abused women and children with the services they need to stay safe and move toward lives free from violence.
Women's Community House development and special events officer Joanna Meilleur and her husband, London singer Jean Meilleur, helped put the show together. Jean Meilleur hosts.
Joining him in versions of Motown hits are Toronto singers Gavin Hope, Rique Franks and Katalin Kiss. The band includes London guitarist and arranger Peter Brennan.
"It's a cause I'm happy to be part of . . . I'm behind it as much as I possibly can be," Macdonald says of the benefit for Women's Community House.
The show will be broadcast live on 97.5 EZ Rock, allowing listeners to call in donations.
Macdonald, 36, has played a part in Motown-styled concerts with similar lineups in London. The Regina Mundi collegiate grad and former Humber College student has also played the Grand House Party benefit, now marking its fifth year.
Friday's benefit is his last gig in London for a while. Next week, Macdonald leaves for European dates with Hodgson. He became Hodgson's sax player of choice a few years ago. John Anthony Helliwell, the sax player on Supertramp's hits in the 1970s, stayed with other band members when Hodgson left in the early 1980s.
Hodgson, the band's leading tunesmith, has played a number of shows in the London region, helping bring Macdonald into his fold.
Next week, there is a festival gig in the Netherlands on June 30. Then, there is the big one.
"I've started to realize the magnitude of it," he says. "I'm trying to stay calm. I'm as excited as all get-out."
The Concert for Diana is set for July 1, which would have been her 46th birthday. It has been devised by her sons, Prince William and Prince Harry, as a celebration of her life. The star-studded bill reflect both Diana's and the princes' favourites. The concert benefits a number of charities, including the memorial fund named for Diana.
Macdonald admits his personal favourite on the bill "may come back to bite" him. "To be honest, Duran Duran," he says. " I love Duran Duran."
Other European dates include a concert in Stuttgart with an orchestra.
The London Free Press