Last September, the Canadian music industry lost one of its most popular members, Universal Music Canada's Vice President of Label Partnerships, Jon Box. His passing at just 45 shocked and saddened his many comrades, but they can now remember a remarkable man at a Celebration of Life event.
Set for Saturday, February 8 at The Opera House, 735 Queen St E, Toronto, it takes the form of a star-studded concert designed to raise funds for two important charities, the Unison Benevolent Fund and Dr. Jay Children’s Grief Centre
Confirmed on the bill are Sloan, The Dirty Nil, Whitehorse, and Terra Lightfoot, and surprise appearances from members of at least two other major Canadian bands are expected.. Anecdotes and tributes from Box's friends and colleagues will also feature.
In an interview with FYI, one of the event organisers, Mike 'Parkside' Renaud of Slaight Music, explained that "these are all bands Jon loved and had a personal connection with. Sloan is especially close to Jon's family, and his two young daughters, Amélie and Tallulah, even joined them on stage at one show."
Assisting Renaud in putting the show together has been Universal's Adam Abbasakoor. "He was one of Jon's oldest friends, from back when they were kids, and he is working with Jon's wife, Heather Wright, on the family side, while I'm taking care of the production," says Renaud.
He notes that "there was no hesitation at all from the artists in saying yes to this. Terra is even flying back early to make it."
"Jon was so instrumental in boosting the careers of so many bands as he was just so outgoing. He was an incredible supporter of my artists, and he always treated me like I was a priority, the same way he treated everyone else."
In an earlier tribute feature on Box in FYI, Renaud recounted one memorable incident with a band he manages, The Dirty Nil.
It is entirely fitting that this Celebration of Life takes the form of a charity fundraiser, given Jon Box's own tireless work on behalf of worthy causes. He was an organizer of the music industry’s annual Blue Jay’s game fundraiser for Unison and MusiCounts, and also actively raised money and awareness for the Gord Downie Fund for Brain Cancer Research – Sunnybrook Foundation.
His close connection with Unison, plus its mental health component, made it a logical recipient charity. Renaud explains that the other organisation to benefit from the night, Dr. Jay Children’s Grief Centre, "is a very important place, and Jon's daughters go there."
The immense goodwill Jon Box generated was vividly demonstrated by the response to a GoFundMe campaign set up after his death to support his daughters' education needs, to the tune of $131K.
Renaud notes that over 300 tickets have already been sold for this Celebration, and the numbers are sure to be boosted when the artists promote the event through social media this week. Those keen on attending are advised to purchase tickets here ASAP.