Jon and Roy bring their Holiday Special to the Tidemark Theatre Dec. 7. Contributed photo

One of the Island’s favorite holiday music celebrations, The Jon and Roy Holiday Special returns

Jon and Roy are bringing their annual Holiday Special to the Tidemark Theatre for one night of festivities.

A festive tradition in Victoria now in its 11th year, the show featuring multiple acts has expanded in recent years, making its way to other parts of the Island. This revue type show offers several acts doing short sets followed by an intermission and headline set by Jon and Roy. Joining Jon and Roy are Seattle folk/rock group The Cave Singers and Vince Vacarro.

Jon Middleton and Roy Vizer, the long-time bandmates who began releasing music under the Jon and Roy banner when they were university students, have hit their stride as artists. There’s a simplicity to the music of Jon and Roy that makes what they do sound effortless. But nothing could be further from the truth. Neither can recall exactly when or where they started playing music together, but they distinctly remember it was very soon after meeting.

The two friends aren’t sure they ever talked about being a band, either. In a way, that decision took care of itself. The symmetry was there from the start: Middleton’s gently wavering voice, powerful in spots but never enough to overshadow his expressive guitar playing; Vizer’s inventive, expressive percussion, delivered in a way that meshed perfectly with its elements. Over a decade and seven critically-acclaimed roots albums later, the duo of Jon and Roy continues to roll.

It’s all in a name: there’s definitely something primitive about the Cave Singers. Perhaps it’s the stripped back arrangements, the muscular, rudimentary drumming, the gothic, gospel themes of sin, redemption and hellfire, or the unrepentant nods to early American roots music. Or maybe it’s more to do with an intrinsic element in their sound — truly retro, with a hissing undercurrent that evokes the crackle of old 78 rpm LPs. But there’s also a droney element, along with distinctive, gravelly vocals, that adds just the right amount of weirdness to make the Seattle-based trio sound genuinely modern at the same time.

All three members hail from previous (and more raucous) projects. Vocalist Pete Quirk came from Hint Hint, Marty Lund from Cobra High and most famously, bassist Derek Fudesco, founded The Cave Singers after the dissolution of successful Seattle indie rockers Pretty Girls Make Graves. It was an artistic departure for all of them —hanging up their post punk, indie spurs for a folkier, more acoustic approach, which at first glance may not seem to be the most stunningly original choice. But the effect is surprisingly arresting, and The Cave Singers have managed to carve out a truly inspired niche for themselves.

Vince Vaccaro is a Canadian singer-songwriter, guitarist and record producer. He has performed largely as a solo artist, appearing both solo acoustic, and backed up by a five to eight piece band. His musical influences include Bruce Springsteen, Ben Harper, Eddie Vedder, and Adam Granduciel of the War on Drugs. Vaccaro has played shows in Canada, Australia, and the US, sharing stages with bands such as Mumford & Sons, Temper Trap, Awol Nation, Matt Mays, Jay Malinowski & the Deadcoast, Sam Roberts, City & Colour and Bedouin Soundclash, amongst many others. He was born in Montreal, Quebec, and grew up in Victoria, British Columbia.

Sponsored by the Campbell River Mirror, 99.7 2Day FM and What’s On Digest, the Tidemark Theatre proudly presents, the Jon & Roy Holiday Special at the Tidemark Theatre on Dec. 7. Tickets are $34 for Members and $39 for Non-Members (+applicable taxes and fees) and can be purchased at the Box Office Tuesday through Thursday between 12 p.m. and 4 p.m. Tickets are also available online: tidemarktheatre.com OR 287.PINK!