stompin tom connors
Massey Hall
Horseshoe TavernIt all started when I a little kid seeing for the first time on CityTV this tall skinny cowboy looking guy performing up on stage in a smoked filled bar singing some really odd songs to say the least. This film was titled 'Across This Land With Stompin' Tom Connors'. Oddly enough seeing this classic film would instantly turn me into a Stompin' Tom fan. I was more of a low key fan where I never really spoke about being a fan, but knew if someone mentioned his name or the his songs I could at least hold up a converstaion about the guy.

Twenty some on years would pass where I recall being at a house party flipping through a collection of these new fancy audio things that people were calling CDs where I came across one titled: A Proud Canadian by Stompin' Tom. It had been years since I had heard these songs of his so I had to put it on and with doing so my childhood memory of being a Stompin' Tom fan had been born again.

Now jump a few more years ahead to my college years at Durham College and little did I know this would be where things were about to change for me. One of our graphic design projects was to pick a subject to base a website design on. After a long brainstorming session a name finally popped into my head, it was Stompin' Tom Connors - Perfect!

I quickly went online to see what I could find on this guy and to my surprise there was very little. There was basically only two sites that stood out that were dedicated to him. One being a fan site that was geared towards Stompin' Tom's discography, the other was simply a one pager with a brief write up which was under the EMI Music Canada website. It sure wasn't much at all and I thought right then and there I had chosen a perfect subject for this website project that might get a bit of attention once I had it complete.

Stomp On WoodI sure had to do my homework on Stompin' Tom in order to create this site and the more info I gathered on him, the more I started to dive into the world of Stompin' Tom and saw the impact this guy had on all his followers. Eventually the site was completed which then we had to make it go public, and by doing so things started to get crazy for me. By that I mean, my email was now being bombarded daily by Stompin' Tom fans that had visited my site. I was receiving photos, stories and questions in hope that I could pass all this info on to Stompin' Tom. It had come to a point that I had to clearly state that this little class project that I created was simply a fan made site and was not in any way associated with Tom himself, but people just didn't seem to care. I ended having to create a guestbook to allow the fans to connect with one other which also eased up the nightly work load that I was doing day in and day out trying to maintain the site. I sure was having fun with it.

One of the biggest requests people were asking of me was to create a lyric page of his songs. Sadly enough, I still had yet to own anything of Tom's so this request seemed impossible until I recieved a brochure in the mail from the BMG Music Club. To my surprise BMG had a whole collection of Stompin' Tom CDs in their catalogue. Of course I bought all that they had to offer and that was the beginning of the website's first lyric page. Night after night I was staying up really late continously hitting play and pause as I typed out every lyric. I no doubt had many spelling errors, but in turn had all the returning fans helping with errors they were spotting. They to started sending the site even more lyrics for me to post that were missing out of Tom's discography. With all the help from these fans we had pretty much the biggest collection of Tom's song lyrics online.

Not long after the website was up and running I caught wind that Tom was currently on tour. To my surprise my girlfriend (now wife) bought two tickets to go see Stompin' Tom in Lindsay Ontario at the Academy Theatre. We were seated in the very last row of the theatre but it was good enough for me, heck I was at my first Stompin' Tom Show. Looking around at the crowd I could see the wide range of age groups that were drawn to this guy the same way I had been since being a little kid and it was amazing to see. I'm sure Tom had put on a great show, but I serioulsy can't recall to much about it other then Mark LaForme was the opening band, and the show seemed to fly by which was probably due to me being in awe for the fact I was actually there seeing him in person rather then on CityTV. Anyway, the show had ended and I had to now fly home to update my website to inform everyone that came to the site to tell them what I had just witnessed.

HavelockThat same year Tom was also performing at the Havelock Jamboree (1999) which would make it the second time I was seeing Tom perform live. When I purchased my tickets for this all day event I figured it would be a good oppertunity to make up a simple flyer and pass around to promote the site to anyone I might see wearing a Stompin' Tom shirt. I actually only handed one flyer out to a certain someone that would eventually change things even more for me. Before Tom was about to perform on the main stage, I ventured around the back area where I spotted this guy around my age that was a dead ringer to a young Tom Connors back in his ealry days. As I got closer I spotted he had a Stompin' Tom tour pass hanging from his neck. I being a shy person took it upon myself to walk up and introduce myself. I passed him one of my home made flyers and told him who I was and that I created this fan based site that had become very popular with the fans of Stompin' Tom . He then proceeded to tell me he was actually Tom's son and I guess me being star struck thought HECK, I'm gonna get this Connor family member to sign my Stompin' Tom shirt. So yes, I have a Stompin' Tom Tour Shirt signed by Tom Connors Jr - lol. We chatted only for a short time as Tom was about to go on stage. I quickly went back to the front of the main stage and enjoyed a hell of a show. After he was done his set, I drove straight home and jumped onto the website to update all the fans about all that had went down that day.

A few weeks had passed since being at the Jamboree that I recieved a phone call from record store in Peterborough that had my name on file in case they came across any Stompin' Tom LP's that I was currently collecting. They were simply calling to inform me that a few had come in and wanted to see if I was interested. So yes, I drove out to Peterborough that morning and went into the store and bought all that they had. As I was leaving the store I actually happened to bump into a guy that I recognized from his own Stompin' Tom LP collecting website name Mike Helms. The weird thing was, he is a massive collector of Tom's LP's and 45's and goes out of his way like I had been doing in order to buy up these rare collectables (His collection is very impressive to say the least). Anyway, he had just left the store as I was going in and he said he saw the LP's there and the owner said they were on hold for a Mike Dunlop, which he reconized the name from the my own site so he stuck around to see if I would be showing up. We stood on the main street in Peterborough chatting about our websites, record collecting and of course Tom. I think back to that day and wonder just how small the world actually is to bump into another STC fan that also had one of the only other websites out there at the time based on Stompin' Tom.

The HookThe summer of 1999 was about to come to a end and to my surprise I received a phone call from Tom Jr. He was calling to say that he finally had a chance to look at my Stompin' Tom site and was impressed with what I had created based on his father. We chatted for quite some time before he asked if I would be interested in helping him create the official Stompin' Tom Connors website? I was over the moon to be asked this of him, and I was for sure on board. He also suggested that we get in contact with the other Mike (Helms) that had his own discography based Stompin' Tom website to see if he to would like to be a part of the official site. Before we wrapped up our conversation, I flat out told Tom Jr. that I did not want anything in return for my role for working on this new site for Tom as it was a honour to be asked to be the designer. BUT the only thing I did request was to be able to finally meet Stompin' Tom. His answer to that was 'when can you make it up to the house'!

That following month Mike Helms and I were headed up to the Connors house for a meet and greet and to discuss what we were all going to do with the site. We had first hand access to photograph all of Tom's awards and achievements that we were going to include on the site. Just seeing all this history displayed in Tom's trophy room was proof to just how important this man was to Canadian Music. Now that we had quite a few rolls of film taken of all that was needed for the site it was time to head up to meet Tom himself. I was completely nervous as I walked the flight of steps that lead up to Tom's bar that was built right into his home. Upon entering this beautiful room I spotted the Man of the Land sitting on his bar stole, wearing a straw cowboy hat with a stern glare on his face looking at us as we entered the bar room. He stood up and approached us and said 'so your the two Mike's I've heard so much about'. I replied back 'It's a honor to finally meet you Stompin' Tom'... he stopped me there, 'Call me Tom'.

That night we pulled a all nighter, (the first of MANY) but it seemed to be only a hour or so because time flew by so quickly. I guess for the fact that I was sitting there talking to someone that I had been drawn to since being a kid to now have him sitting in front of me, telling stories, playing his guitar and singing a few of his songs that we requested to hear was in deed simplying amazing. Not to mention it was also the first time I had ever drank a warm beer - 5 as a matter of fact over the entire night. And from that moment on I feel a great friendship was born between the Connors family and myself.

HistoryWith months of working on the site it was finally finished and we now wanted to have Tom look it over in person. So Mike and I went up to the Tom's house again to present to him the official Stompin' Tom website. He was quite impressed and the site went live that night. This now meant that my own personal fan based site was no more. I was kind of bummed out about it as it was such a fun thing to maintain and work on nightly for me. But on the other hand I had to remember it sure had a great run and I met a lot of people from it. I guess now looking back at it, it sort of was what helped launch my graphic design career more or less. Being that now that I designed Tom's official site a whole new world was about to open up for me with being his designer for all future release CD's / DVD's / Tours and books. Tom now wanted me to take on designing for his 2000 tour advertisements which is when I was introduced to Tom's tour promoter Brian Edwards of Rocklands Entertainment. With doing so Rocklands Entertainment now wanted to see what I could do for their other artists they were promoting and from there began a great new working relationship I still now have with Rocklands Entertainment being their go to designer.

From the start of the year 2000, and many gatherings with the Connors to go over projects that you will see displayed on my site I have been proud to be Tom's design guy. I feel without him, I would not of had the opertunities and success of running my own business as I do to this day. But on a more personal note, I'm very lucky to have also formed a great friendship with the whole Connors family and will of course continue to be loyal in providing only the best that I can create in any future projects for the Stompin' Tom Legend.

To end off this very long winded story comes the 2013 unfortunate death of Stompin' Tom Connors. The news that Tom wasn't doing well came to me by phone call. I had to make a promise that this news would remain hush, hush. After I was told that it wasn't looking good and we needed to start the 'planning' on how we will be making this news go public when the time came was very hard to deal with mentally. I recall hanging up and my eyes instantly started to sweal up that I was losing someone very important to me and also knowing that I was now having to work on content that was leading up to the day that Tom will be passing away. So no doubt working on web graphics, memorial brochure and ads for papers to run when the news would eventual break sure took its toll on me. I had only told one person and that being my wife of what was soon to be happening to Tom as his condition grew worse. When the day sadly came, we all had to be on the same page of when we were going to be making the official UPLOAD to our website the graphics and info to inform the fans of Tom's passing.

So LongI couldn't believe just HOW FAST the media had picked up on this news as soon as I hit upload - the flood gates were now opened. I was receiving phone calls and text messages from friends and family that were now finding out. It literally was a matter of minutes of hitting upload that I received one text from my buddy Matt who was at the Toronto Maple Leaf game that night when we broke the news. He told me they just announced Tom died and on the big score board in the middle of the Air Canada Centre. They had the graphic I had created for the website that was now being shown on the big screen there at the game. That to me was heart breaking knowing that I had created this final graphic more or less to show everyone that a legend of the Hockey Song had died. I swear I didn't sleep that night due to being so bummed out but also was intreged going onto the net reading what people where saying and watching all the twitter feeds being posted by fans and celebrities of our lose of our great Canadian Legend.

Celebration Of LifeThings just did not slow down from there either because now I had to get going on projects for the special celebration of Stompin' Tom Connors memorial that was being hosted at the Peterborough arena where the Pete's play. We were creating a hand out brochure for the event that would be given to the fans as they entered the event to say their final goodbye's to Tom. It was a day before this event was to take place and only 2 hours till I had to be at the funeral home for family and friends to attend where Tom was that I had to get the file to the printer. As luck should have it I was burdened with internet connection issues, adding and deleting peoples names that had to be featured in these pages of the brochure, to dropped connections with the printers FTP - you name it. Talk about stress in the graphic design world, but I kept my cool and we got it all done and just in time - Thank goodness.

Final Resting SpotSo after the Celebration of life event had passed, I was then asked by Tom Jr. and Lena if I would consider designing the Grave / Tombstone that would be placed upon Tom's final resting place. Again, another honour to actually be asked to do such a project for Tom and his family. I worked with the Connors in what Tom had invisioned to have on his stone and I have to say it turned out GREAT.

Anyway, if you were able to get through all the above rambling of mine I'll end this off by saying 'Thank you Tom, you meant the world to me and I owe you a hell of a lot of credit in helping me succeed in what I do today in the graphic design world. You were pretty much my stepping stone to get me where I am today. Thanks for being so welcoming to a simple fan and then forming a friendship with me - you are truly missed'. And another sincere thank you to Tom Jr. and Lena Connors.

the projects i have done for stompin' tom connors
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