We were very sad to hear the passing of one of our heroes and Canadian music legend, Stompin’ Tom Connors, on March 6th, 2013.
On July 16th, 2011, we saw Stompin’ Tom Connors live at Migration Hall in Kingsville, ON. It was truly a spectacular show, and really opened our eyes to what a wonderful man and performer Tom was.
At the time, he was 75 and he played as hard and energetic as any young performer, stompin’ his way through the entire set and telling jokes the whole time.
One of the highlights was a big section in the middle of the show he took to to play solo, just him and his guitar. His band took a break and Tom played a bunch of Wilf Carter songs by himself, taking guitar breaks and everything. He would flub a note, flash a grin at the audience, and keep on playing. It was an inspiration to watch.
What was probably the best aspect of the show that night was how we got inside. We had just arrived in Kingsville a few days earlier to a hot and humid Southern Ontario July. We had been on tour in the Maritimes, and we were dead tired and flat broke.
The day we arrived, we noticed the old sign at Migration Hall. “Stompin’ Tom Connors – July 16th.” We almost couldn’t believe it. The timing was perfect, and it was a dream of ours to see him stomp it out live, especially in a small hall in an even smaller town – Dan’s hometown at that! Alas, as broke folk musicians, one look at the ticket price and we new it wasn’t in the cards.
There’s something to be said about determination, however. A mix of luck, blind determination, and Tom being a stand-up guy got us into the show that night.
We decided to bike over to the hall just to check it out, maybe even listen from outside, we thought. We took our instruments and scribbled out a cardboard sign; “busking for stompin’ tom tix!” We stomped, hollered, and fiddled. The folks in the lineup were amused, but those tickets weren’t necessarily cheap. The lineup filtered inside leaving us empty handed. We had to come up with a plan b.
With little forethought, Megan grabbed a paper napkin from her fiddle case and hastily scribbled out a note to Tom. She took it, along with our CD, to a back door where she earlier saw gear being loaded in.
As the story goes, she poked her head in the door of the men’s dressing room at the Migration Hall to a few guys having beers and cracking jokes. A man noticed her poking around the corner and asked if he could help her. Flashing her most charming smile she asked if he could deliver the note and CD to Tom. He smirked and said he’d do his best. It was a long shot, but hey, we were desperate to make this happen.
As she walked away from the back door, a mere 30 seconds later, the man returned to the doorway and called out. “Hey! There will be two tickets for you at the door in five minutes. He says thanks,” and then disappeared back inside.
We looked at each other with honest shock and gigantic smiles. We couldn’t believe it worked. We went the to front ticket counter and picked up our tickets – 3rd row from the stage and centre. We drank $3 cups of Canadian and had sore faces from such big smiles.
To this day, it was one of the best shows either of us has ever seen, and Tom’s generosity and understanding of the traveling folk musician’s plight will forever be a humbling moment.
RIP, Tom. You’re our hero. May your music and spirit continue to shine from coast to coast.
– Dan and Meg