Friday, December 10, 1999

Stompin' Tom's on a hot streak
An award, a new album and playing at Wayne Gretzky ceremony
By JANE STEVENSON -- Toronto Sun

Stompin' Tom is moving along, all right. And at quite a clip.

The 63-year-old Canadian country music legend has enjoyed a productive November, which has seen him receive SOCAN's National Achievement Award, release his latest album, Move Along With Stompin' Tom, and play at Wayne Gretzy's induction into the Hockey Hall Of Fame.

Still to come is a Dec. 31 gig at Lulu's Roadhouse in Kitchener, which will see him break a 20-year-plus moratorium on playing New Year's Eve shows.

"I haven't done a New Year's gig for a long time, but this is a special thing and Lulu's Roadhouse holds over 3,000 people full," says Stompin' during a recent and rare phone interview.

"That should be a good one. It's a bar scene and everything, and those are usually my favourites."

Stompin', who usually spends New Year's with family and friends, admits he was coaxed out to play partly due to the end-of-the-century hoopla. Not that he believes any of the doom-and-gloom scenarios.

"This is the millennium after all, and it's a big one, eh? It's very special," he says. "I don't listen much to hype. I mean there's people scared the world is going to end and all this kind of thing and I don't pay attention to that. I think that it's a big day and all but I think after a couple of years or something, we'll just settle back in."

Meanwhile, Stompin' is excited to have a new album out with new material on it. It's been five years since that happened, according to a press release issued by his record label.

"If it was up to me, I'd have at least a new one out every year as I used to do back in the '70s, " says Stompin'. "But that's the way they (EMI) operate." Anyone checking out the track listing for Move Along With Stompin' Tom will notice the singer's usual nationalistic bent with such songs as The Confederation Bridge, written in honour of the 1997 opening of the bridge linking P.E.I. to the mainland with fellow martimer Kim Stockwood on background vocals. (It was previously released as a limited edition single.)

There's also a re-done version of Long Gone To The Yukon, the title track from Stompin's 1995 album.

"I made a mistake in the song, I called it Diamond Lil's in Dawson City when it's Diamond Gertie's," explained Stompin' of the lyrics, which go, 'And when I pull into Dawson City, Yukon, I'll be headin' for Old Diamond Gert's Saloon.'

"And so I made that correction. Like two people pointed it out. It got released that way and I was kicking myself in the butt. It doesn't very often happen with me. I usually get all my facts and geography pretty straight."

However, it was reported that Stompin' stumbled over one verse in his signature tune, The Hockey Song, at Gretzky's induction, something he overlooks when recalling the event.

"That was great, really," says Stompin' who actually performed in the BCE complex next door to the Hall Of Fame.

"I had a great time there, sang the song and met a lot of the hockey players." Not the least of whom was The Great One himself.

"That was the first time, and of course he was so swamped with autographs nobody did a get a chance to talk to him for very long. I mean I know I sign a lot of autographs after a show, but he's got me beat by a 1000-to-one or something."

However, the two Canadian icons chatted long enough for Stompin' to find out Gretzy was a fan.

"Oh, sure, well most of them are. As a matter of fact, it was music to my ears to hear them calling my Hockey Song, hockey's national anthem."

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