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Old 10-31-2008, 07:27 AM   #1
Jesse Joe
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Default Stompin' Tom releases 50th album !

Stompin' Tom releases 50th album

Published Friday October 31st, 2008


Canadian legend laments lack of radio play, patriotism

By Cassandra Szklarski
THE CANADIAN PRESS



HALTON HILLS, Ont. - Country-folk legend Stompin' Tom Connors has established himself as one of Canada's biggest cultural icons, but as he releases his 50th album, he says he is still yearning to be embraced by radio.



CP

Stompiní Tom Connors performs at Live from Rideau Hall.


The 72-year-old musician lashed out at traditional radio in a recent interview that also touched on his ongoing beef with the Junos, his disappointment with a U.S.-dominated music industry and the lack of a strong successor to continue his patriotic musical campaign.
"I've never had a hit song on any hit parade," Connors declares while seated at a table in his kitchen, his eyes shaded by a signature black cowboy hat.
"Out of 50 albums, it's amazing. They tell me I don't fit the format or I'm too Canadian or I'm too country or I'm too this or I'm too that -- I'm too something. Whatever it is, I don't fit the format. So I don't understand."
"I'm a man of the land, I go out into the country and I talk to people. . . . And I would think that people in the media would kind of catch on and go, 'Hey, this guy knows a little bit about the country, maybe we should play one of his songs or two and maybe somebody might like it out there.'"
It was a rare flash of bitterness from the jovial and friendly Connors, who earlier had spent much of the day entertaining record company staff and reporters with "Newfie jokes," a silly dance he had invented and stories about his upcoming album, "The Ballad of Stompin' Tom," in his wood-panelled rec room.
With his son Tom Jr. working the bar and his wife Lena shaking hands, Connors introduced some of his favourite tracks for several dozen people invited to his home in rural Halton Hills, an hour's drive west of Toronto, for a casual listening party.
Chain-smoking and with a bottle of beer in hand, Connors stomped his left boot to keep time as music blasted from a stereo, and at other moments silently mouthed the lyrics. The disc includes a live version of Wilf Carter's "Take Me Back to Old Alberta" and reworked versions of "The Hockey Song," "My Hockey Mom" and "The Olympic Song."
"Maybe they'll get a little patriotism or something on that last song and . . . play a little bit (on the radio) -- who knows," he said of "The Olympic Song," which includes a new verse about the 2010 Winter Games slated for Vancouver.
Although wide commercial appeal has escaped Connors for much of his four-decade career, he has earned a devoted following for straight-ahead country-folk tunes.
Heritage-soaked songs like "Canada Day, Up Canada Way," "Bud the Spud" and "Sudbury Saturday Night" have come to be regarded as veritable national anthems thanks to their unabashed embrace of all things Canadiana. The fact he remains a towering figure in this genre appeared to be another sore point.
"I don't know why I seem to be the only one, or almost the only one, writing about this country," Connors says later in his kitchen, slipping into another rant.
"It just amazes me, I've been going so long I would think that somebody else (would have) picked up the torch a long time ago and started writing tons of songs about this country. This country is the most underwritten country in the world as far as songs are concerned. We starve -- the people in this country are starving for songs about their homeland."
In the past, Connors's fervent patriotism has put him at loggerheads with the Canadian music industry.
In 1978, he famously returned six Juno Awards he had amassed in previous years, complaining that some artists were being recognized in categories outside their genre while other winners had done most of their work outside the country. He derided musicians who moved to the United States as "border jumpers." Connors says his feelings have not changed since then.
"It's worse today, I would say, then it was then. Nothing's changed," he says.
If he were to qualify for a nomination for "The Ballad of Stompin' Tom," he dismissed outright the possibility of a reconciliation with the Juno Awards. "No," he says decisively. "No, to hell with them. I wouldn't even go there."
From Connors's earliest days, life was a battle. He was born in Saint John, N.B., on Feb. 9, 1936, to an unwed teenage mother. From the age of three he lived hand-to-mouth, begging on the street with his mom until he was placed in the care of child welfare officials. At age nine he was adopted by a family in Skinners Pond, P.E.I., running away four years later to hitchhike across the country. He picked up a guitar as his constant companion.
Connors sings about those tumultuous years on the new disc's title track, "The Ballad of Stompin' Tom." He says he was inspired after seeing the success of the play of the same name, mounted in Blyth, Ont., two years ago. Based on his two autobiographies, "Before the Fame" and "The Connors Tone," the play has gone on to successful runs in Charlottetown and the Ontario communities of Penetanguishene, Drayton and Gananoque.
As for the incredible journey his life has taken, Connors refuses to revel in his accomplishments.
"You can't pat yourself on the back," he says. "If you're liked by the people, let them do it. Don't go about saying, 'Hey, I am somebody, I am this, I am that . . .' No, you'll never get that out of me.
"Whatever I do, in my writing, I do it for others. I do it for my country and I do it for my countrymen and that's the only value that I really have."
"The Ballad of Stompin' Tom" was released Oct. 28.
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Old 10-31-2008, 09:37 AM   #2
charlene
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Default Re: Stompin' Tom releases 50th album !

There will be a stamp in his honour -
http://www.stompintom.com/whatsnew/stamp.html
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Old 10-31-2008, 10:41 AM   #3
Jesse Joe
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Default Re: Stompin' Tom releases 50th album !

Yes indeed he must be proud of that one. This is one guy that you can really called "A PROUD CANADIAN" Never saw him "Live In Concert"...
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Old 11-02-2008, 11:06 AM   #4
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Default Re: Stompin' Tom releases 50th album !

jjo, i have been to the Horseshoe many times and when I saw this film (this is just a clip) shot back in 1972 it really took me back and the cutaways to the Toronto pub crowd were the most interesting to me...look at all those smokes, lol...he looks the same now as he did when i first saw him...so he either looks good for an old fart OR thirty something years ago, he looked pretty bad for a young guy...live long, Tom

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Old 11-02-2008, 12:10 PM   #5
Jesse Joe
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Default Re: Stompin' Tom releases 50th album !

Quote:
he looks the same now as he did when i first saw him...so he either looks good for an old fart OR thirty something years ago, he looked pretty bad for a young guy... jj
I have that entire show on VHS from "The Horse Shoe Tavern." I've seen it in the theatre when it came out in the early 70's.

It's been on TV a few times also
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Old 11-02-2008, 01:00 PM   #6
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Default Re: Stompin' Tom releases 50th album !

The movie is called "Across This Land." The Stomper's road manager at the time was a friend who I had the pleasure of working with in Toronto during those years and he called me to ask if there was some way to muster up a group of folks who drank beer and were willing to show up at 7:30 pm for two consecutive nights at the Horseshoe Tavern, wear the same clothing and sit in the same spot for those two nights.
Mission accomplished. Labatts brewery supplied the beer and everyone drank their fill.
What a party and there are plenty of stories to be told!
The movie didn't do well at the box office and Tom sold off the rights to the TV networks.
It was unfortunate though as now to this day it's virtually impossible to watch that movie on TV without having to pay for it in some way.
Not that Tom has to worry now but it's tough to see a guy who worked so hard get a bad break.
The friend who gave me the call was Joe (aka "Big Joe Mufferaw"). He passed away a little over a year ago and his photo is on the cover of Stompin Tom's album "Stompin Tom Meets Big Joe Mufferaw."
Joe was a great guy and a true friend and I miss him dearly. I still stay at his place when I travel to Toronto. JJ and I were in Joe's living room one day playing a few tunes together and Joe came in to join us.
Even some history here as "JJ Meets Big Joe Mufferaw."
If I recall there is a restaurant on the outskirts of Ottawa called "Big Joe Mufferaws."
Cheers to all. RJ.
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Old 11-02-2008, 04:00 PM   #7
Jesse Joe
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Default Re: Stompin' Tom releases 50th album !

"Across This Land," Right On !

Thanks for sharing this Ron, do we see you in this film ?

Last edited by Jesse Joe; 11-02-2008 at 05:19 PM.
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Old 11-02-2008, 05:02 PM   #8
lighthead2toe
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Yes, a much younger looking version of this lighthead2toe guy is in there clapping hands while sitting at my designated chair.
Those years were among the best in my life.
The Stomper and Gord were both climbing up the ladder at that time although Gord was pertty up there.
Tom has had moments with many in the music business as we know including Gord but I think Gord always liked Tom and every once in a while at concerts Gord will give him a mention.
He and his lovely wife and childhood sweetheart, Lena would throw a party every summer and invite all their friends.
Needless to say many's a song was sung as many of their friends were involved one way or the other in the music business. A good time was had by all that's for sure.
Cheers, RJ.
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Old 11-02-2008, 05:08 PM   #9
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fascinating stuff RJ! Your time in Toronto in those days are to be envied..I could listen to your stories all day..
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Old 11-02-2008, 07:16 PM   #10
Jesse Joe
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Default Re: Stompin' Tom releases 50th album !

Same here as Char,

I haven't watch "Across This Land" lately, but I remember Stompin Tom had guest singers. And I particularly enjoyed the guy w/ the 12 string, who sounded a little like a young Gordon Lightfoot. Will have to watch it again to get his name, and try to find Ron in that smoking crowd.
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Old 11-03-2008, 08:11 AM   #11
Jesse Joe
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Default Re: Stompin' Tom releases 50th album !

Did watch "Across This Land" last night, and simply can not make who Ron would be. But the young guy with the 12 string, sounding somewhat like an early Lightfoot is Chris Scott.

Stompin Tom says that he did a lot of hitch hiking himself. Wonder what has become of him ? 'WOW' 1973, how time goes by so quickly !!!
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Old 11-04-2008, 05:17 AM   #12
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Default Re: Stompin' Tom releases 50th album !

good to hear from you, rj....it was my good fortune to have met Joe and to also have chatted at length by phone to such a warm, polite gentleman

here's a neat clip (from a more recent gig):

ron, what are you wearing and where are you sitting? (ie. is there a cutaway shot on this film to where you are situated?)

at the Massey 08 GL Jam, our good man, ron, performed a wonderfully clever version of the Stompin Tom tune 'To It and At It' interspersing the DQ guitar hook and then eventually segueing into DQ....non-wavering tempo, by the way

as i sat at that old pub, sipping my afternoon pint, the lyrics had me thinking of the old Shebib film, Goin Down the Road...classic
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Old 11-06-2008, 03:24 PM   #13
lighthead2toe
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Default Re: Stompin' Tom releases 50th album !

JJ, I can't seem to find the video of this movie anywhere in my collection and It's been such a long time since I've seen it I don't recall what I was wearing.
I do know know for sure though that I had a lot more hair in those days than I have now.
When I moved to Vancouver in 1997 some of my stuff didn't seem to make it out here so there's a possibility it's still in Toronto with my son Liam. I'll have to look further when I go there for Christmas.
But "Goin' Down the Road" I still have and I set it aside when I was going through my videos as I really love Bruce Cockburn singing that great tune at the start of the movie.
It reminds me so much of the days when Gord played Steele's Tavern and those cool places in Toronto.
It sure was a wonderful era to have experienced and I'm very thankful for all the great things that came my way.
Cheers, RJ.
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