Stompin’ Tom Connors is known as the Canadian icon behind “The Hockey Song,” but Duncan Fremlin and his band, Whiskey Jack, want to show Maryhill audiences a whole other side to the bluegrass/country artist.
On the afternoon of Jan. 17, The Commercial Tavern in Maryhill is hosting the Stories and Songs of Stompin’ Tom. Fremlin says the band can’t wait to share their love of Tom Connors’ music, and even a few stories about the man himself, with the audience in Woolwich Township.
“As the years go by, the importance of his music has become even greater. His material has that kind of everyman quality. It appeals and relates to pretty much everybody,” he said, adding that he considers “The Hockey Song” to be one of Canada’s national anthems, however there is much more to the singer’s catalogue. “It seems the more we play (his songs) they have taken on a life of their own. We sing the songs and we tell the stories, and people love the stories because Tom was quite the character. It is all about entertainment. He was highly principled. He would live and die by his beliefs. He didn’t suffer fools gladly and he was true to himself from the get-go.”
Fremlin and the rest of the members in Whiskey Jack knew Stompin’ Tom personally, having toured with him throughout the years and playing the singer’s birthday party every year at his Georgetown home. They got to know the man, and have been continuing his legacy for the last few years. This time, at The Commercial Tavern, something of a Canadian institution in itself.
“It is perfect. The Commercial Tavern is perfect,” said Fremlin. “I have been wanting to bring the show here for a while. This is the kind of venue where we want to play. He got big, and had to play places like Massey Hall, but if Tom had his way, this is where he would have wanted to play forever. I am sure the crowd will be hugely receptive.”
Part of the legacy Whiskey Jack makes sure to continue is the vibe of the Stompin’ Tom shows – a casual and conversational performance.
“Tom’s shows were shows, yes, but they were really parties. The relationship he had with his fans was really quite unique and special. I don’t think there is a superstar in this country that has a relationship with their fans like Tom did,” said Fremlin. “His shows were never formal. He was always bantering with the audience. We do the same thing. We basically take the tone he set for the shows and for us to be able to continue the tradition (is great). It is a very inclusive, one-for-all kind of show. We are there to honour this great man and his music.”
Touring smaller towns with smaller venues is something that Whiskey Jack and Fremlin look forward to every time. He feels it is just another way of honouring Stompin’ Tom’s legacy.
“It is about his reputation. You appreciate the number of years he spent hitchhiking and traveling to smaller communities across the country, and certainly Wellesley and Woolwich were two townships he spent a lot of time in,” said Fremlin. “He lived nearby and he recorded nearby. He has a lot of friends and neighbours in the area. Most of the music he produced, especially later in life came from this general area.”
The show starts at 1 p.m. on Jan. 17 at The Commercial Tavern. Tickets are $25 and can be purchased in advance by calling the hotel at 519-648-3644.