The Stompin' Tom Party of Canada - No-nonsense, tell-it-like-it-is singer-songwriter does no wrong in the eyes of fans

Posted by on 30 July 2004

FFWD Weekly July 22, 2004 - Preview Article by Aubrey McInnis

 

Earlier this year, our beloved hero Stompin’ Tom Connors had made an apoplectic mess of Conan O’Brien’s audience during a special weeklong broadcast in Toronto. Really, it was too much of a coincidence to have that many people trying to kick Ritalin at once. Connors simply stood up on stage with his trademark plywood and the crowd – mostly 20-and-30-somethings – indicated that Tom might have had every seat in the House of Commons had he run for prime minister last month.


The most popular 68-year-old man in the country has become even more beloved in the last little while. The Stompin’ Tom love-a-thon has only intensified in response to a sour journalist in Manitoba. By now, Bruce Penton (publisher and editor of the Brandon, Manitoba Wheat City Journal) has likely been served with his unofficial deportation papers for trying to defame our Stompin’ Tom with his smarmy apologies to America for Connors’ music. Scads of people crying treason came to Tom’s defence – and not all of them were Canadians.


Even though his words resonate most strongly with fellow Canadians, Stompin’ Tom has got into the hearts of our friends in the United States as well. Jay Hobaugh lives in Lafayette, Indiana, but has had Stompin’ Tom’s records on rotation in his home after being introduced to the Live at the Horseshoe Tavern record as a youngster.


"I was too young to remember it myself. I must have been four or five and my parents and sister had just visited my mom’s side of the family in Boston. I guess they had planned to take the long way home through Canada, as we live in Indiana. Well, they stopped in a record shop and asked the salesperson for a popular Canadian singer-songwriter. The rest is, as they say, history. I am an American at heart, but I love the folk feel of Tom’s music."


Last month, Steve Lafond (a fan from Ottawa) was at a Primus concert in Toronto where he stood utterly impressed after hearing Les Claypool give a shout out to Stompin’ Tom. Apparently, it has become a trend for the American bassist to dedicate a cover of Rush’s "YYZ" to Tom at gigs.


Calgarians have been quick to show our appreciation as well, producing the tribute compilation for Stompin’ Tom called BYOP (Bring Your Own Plywood): Calgary does Connors on Saved By Radio Records. Jennifer Abel and Dawn Loucks were keen on releasing the album, having thought that somebody should have tackled a Stompin’ Tom tribute by now. Abel says that another tribute was organized in Guelph in 1996, but it didn’t go too far.


"He tells these stories of real life and real people," she says, "and so little of our culture these days does that.… It’s not defining us in terms of somebody else, it’s defining us in terms of us. It’s our stories, it’s our country."


Lorne Smallman, a gigantic fan from Calgary, met Tom as a six-year-old. He was awestruck by the tall, gracious man wearing a dark cowboy hat, who purchased school desks from his father.


"I remember the pat he gave me on the head. The same pat he gave my young fella when I stayed after Tom’s last concert here in Calgary.… All through my military career, you could always hear Tom’s music blaring, whether it was from my barrack room, truck stereo or anywhere else I could squeeze him in.


"I even done a CD for my family and friends as a legacy and put ‘The Ketchup Song’ on it as my son, Josh, only 14, requested it. Stompin’ Tom is a fine example of what we as Canadians should try hard to emulate. I wish him and his family all the best."


Like many others, Calgarian Sioux Thibodeau grew to love Connors for his no-nonsense personality. Others appreciate the fact that he sings feel-good songs about the smallest towns across our country. Everyone emphatically agrees that Connors ought to be on the back of our currency by now.


Robbie Kitchen from Guelph, Ontario emphasizes, "In my opinion, there is nobody better who represents Canada than Mr. Connors. I have e-mailed the Canadian Walk of Fame many times saying we should give him a star and I hope they do."


Rick Dunn, a huge fan from Kingston Peninsula, New Brunswick sums it up the best. He comments that if Connors were an American that he would be celebrated annually.


"Whenever I hear Stompin’ Tom, I get a feeling of being home," says Dunn. "He is a true Canadian. I believe he has done more for Canada than any politician. More young Canadians need to know that we in Canada have (an icon) who is proud of his country so much that he has made his career singing about it.


"I will make sure my kids know about such a human being that exists here in good old Canada as they are being trampled with Americana every day of life.… Whatever we as Canadians can do for him to show our appreciation, we should do it while the man is alive, not when he is gone. "