About Us


Tomatoes Tried to Kill Me But Banjos Saved My Life is a heartfelt passion project that began in 2018 as a nudge after Keith Alessi’s life took a major turn.  He shares his exceptional true story of leaving the corporate world behind to follow his true passion—playing the banjo!

When faced with a cancer battle, his lifelong dream becomes the key to saving his life. Told through authentic storytelling, heartfelt humour and music, this highly awarded, internationally toured show is an uplifting story of challenge, triumph, and the power of positivity.

This intimate experience is one sure to leave you feeling empowered, inspired, and ready to dust off your own long forgotten dreams.

It has been Keith’s mission to raise money for causes close to his heart including various cancer charities. He has performed the show over 250 times and has donated 100% of his artist fees and as of December 2022 has raised over $600,000.


Keith’s story is as important as it is compelling and a meaningful lesson for all of us.

Our stories change us, challenge us, and define us.  There is healing in speaking out the truth.  Life can throw us obstacles but, if we choose to look at it through a different lens, they can be the gifts to steer us back to ourselves and our souls.

This has been the heartbeat of the show and the magic I have attempted to capture and draw out in the sharing of his personal story.

Keith is an entertaining and dynamic storyteller but it his bravery, authenticity and vulnerability on stage that holds the real power to this piece. We have purposefully constructed it in a way that allows him to engage you in the journey, disarm you with music and humor and then pull at your heartstrings.

It has been an absolute privilege to be a part of bringing this incredible story to the stage and it is my hope that it will cause you to reflect on your own journey, wake you up to listen to that nudge inside of you and unlock the passions that have been tucked away.

Keith Alessi - Writer/ Performer

Before taking to the stage, Keith was well known as a successful public company CEO, having run companies in both Canada and the United States.  He has been a college professor, entrepreneur and has served on numerous corporate and charitable Boards of Directors.

A dual Canadian/US citizen, Keith lives in Meadows of Dan, Virginia. He is a certified public accountant and received his MBA from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. 

Keith has been touring the show internationally since 2018 across the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom and Scotland.

Here is his LinkedIn Page to find out what he did before taking to the stage!





Erika Conway-Director/ Producer/ Dramaturg

Erika Conway, a Canadian actress, writer, director and producer is no stranger to the stage. Her 30-year performance career has included acting in multiple roles both on stage and in film/ TV, as well as creating and producing her own one woman show which had sold our performances at the Edmonton Fringe Festival. 

 The desire to connect with authentic and meaningful stories ultimately lead her to expand her work on Tomatoes Tried To Kill Me But Banjos Saved My Life.

That along with her 15 year background as a yoga and meditation teacher has been the inspiration to continue her passion of creativity in building a coaching business helping people unlock their passions and discover their authentic voice through storytelling.

For more info visit Erika’s website HERE