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Interview with Stompin' Tom Connors

Tom is definitely one person who shys away from the media and seldom does interviews. However local talk show host Carmen Kilburn and myself were able to track him down during a visit to Atlantic Canada back in 1998. What followed was a very open and frank interview where Tom discussed everything from song writing to the Quebec separation debate.

Q - How are things going so far with the shows?

A - Well we started out in Ontario and made our way into Ottawa and then we did a Molson thing with all kinds of young people. They said your gonna have to follow like about six rock bands. I said I have no problem with that at all. There was guys like Sloan in there and some other bands from the east coast. So we go up there and we do the show and then low and behold they were mobbing the stage, and I don't know why, a 62 year old fella. Why would anyone want to mob the stage? They are all from 18 and 19 right on up.(laughs) Once I get down here I got to get into the lobster and all that stuff. It's fish every day! I love the stuff because in Ontario we can't get the fresh stuff.

Q- You must have some magic in the sense that you can bring the people out. They love your songs. It's a combination of I think yourself, your performance and your music. What do you think of?

A - Well lets put it this way. I never have been scared to make a fool out of myself. You know if your down to earth that I've found people like a guy who's like that, sort of loose and I also like to see my audience. I like to see the faces! Once I play into that and they play into us guys, all of a sudden their is a rapport going. When that happens the level rises a little more and a little more and the show goes on. We have a hell of a time.

Q- A lot of songs Tom like "Bud the Spud" and "New Brunswick and Mary" and of course "The Bug Song" are great!

A - Some people like it and some people don't but then what can you do eh. I got a hell of a lot of songs about a lot of things and nobody ever wrote a song about insects before. You have to write about everything there is. There is only so many subjects.(laughs)

Q - You have been performing and writing you songs for a long time, since you were eleven wasn't it?

A -I sing one called "Reversing Falls Darling" I wrote when I was eleven years old. They announced it and the whole thing. While that was going on they mentioned tonight about getting the ring and the doctorate at the Aitken Centre from St. Thomas University, that was a big surprise to me. Who would ever think of giving Stompin' Tom a doctorate degree, of law no less

Q - You got the order of Canada also, didn't you?

Q - When you were a young person did you ever dream you would be as successful as you are today?

A -No, but I had hoped that one day I would make it but I wasn't going to play the old game as they say. There's a certain thing the entertainers have to do sometimes to get where they want to go. I think maybe I took a little bit longer, but I look in the mirror in the morning and im proud to be who I am.

Q - And you have it Make it Canadian, Keep it Canadian?

A- All the way though. Because Canadians need more than just a Stompin' Tom. They need people who will write about their country and make people feel proud right across from coast to cost, of being who they are. We have to have a lot more songwriters writing about what they know about Canada, instead of slipping away to the states and writing about what's going on down there. God knows the Americans know their country better than Canadians do, so why do they need us down there writing songs about good old Memphis and Tennessee and them other places. Write about our own country and I think people will catch on eventually. This was my theory and at least for myself it worked and I think it would work for other people as well.

Q - Can young musicians still make it in Canada?

Q - It's unfortunate that Quebec separation issue that is now happening. Do you think we will ever get over that?

A - Well there's kinda of a joke about that. A Newfoundlander said it's ok for Quebec to separate because we'll be about ten hours closer to Ontario (laughs) That's just a joke of course. I had a saying here a while back when the separatists thing came out. Somebody asked me one time what do we do. We'll all join Quebec and we'll all separate together I said. At first it takes a person back a bit but if you really think it over... I hope that's not the only way keep them in Canada because the Quebec element is good for our country. It always has been and if you look on down through history pages and everything we can't get along without them. I hope that the separatists can stop trying to convince their people that they can get along without us, because we're good people and we want them to know that and so are they.

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