July 17, 2004

We saw Stompin' Tom!

Check out stompintom.com
Stompin' Tom Conners played the Orpheum Theatre last night.

What a hoot! The old "Stomper" put on a fun, all-ages concert, just like when we saw him at the Queen Elizabeth theatre in 2001. This time, like in 2001, I've never seen so many t-shirts, denim and cowboy hats at one time in a swank venue. Stompin' Tom is a real Canadian legend, celebrating his 40th year as a Canadian country/folk musician. He has continually toured back and forth across Canada, singing his own original brand of country/folk music: true, funny, sometimes sentimental, and always accompanied with his trademark black cowboy hat and big leather cowboy boot stompin' the hell out of a piece of plywood.

For an artist who has been recording and touring continually since the early 60s, I expected to see a lot of grey hair in the audience, but what continues to surprise and delight me is the number of young people who love Stompin' Tom too. There were families with young children, teens and 20-something men and women, senior couples, and one pre-teen autistic boy, who shook his hands and bobbed his head excitedly throughout the whole evening. Tom has a diverse and intensely loyal following.

Oh - and the other thing, I should mention: a Stompin' Tom concert is usually marked by the fact that the audience is often as loud as the band! This was true in the 2001 concert I saw, and in the one last night. Tom's fans are not at all shy about screaming out song requests. It's a weird, hilarious form of hysteria. In 2001, at the "Queen E", a 300 pound man near the back of the hall stood up full in his torn white tank top and bellowed at the top of his impressive bass voice "We love you Tooooom!" The audience erupted in laughter, and Tom replied "Same to you buddy. Now sit down!"

At that concert, the young man in his early twenties next to me almost gave himself a hernia yelling "PLAY BUUUD THE SPUUUUD!" Loud, crazy, loving loyal fans, having a great, rowdy time.

Last night at the Orpheum was no different. There was a half-dozen of them in the row in front of us, alternatively screaming out "We love you Tom!" or various song titles. Eventually, a screaming match of <song title><exhortation to shut up><song title> ensued, and Tom's security came up and escorted the lads out of the theatre. Apparently the lady next to us had complained. A few moments later, we saw that security had just reseated them a few rows up and way off to the side, isolating them from other audience members. This of course caused them to scream louder and more often. When Tom finally played "Big Joe Mufferaw", these six loud lads from Langley were all on their feet dancing, waving their arms and singing along. Off on the opposite side of the theatre, we saw the same display from a similarly-loud group of teen girls.

For a guy who must be almost 70 now, Tom still records, and puts on a fun, boisterous show. It's obvious that people of all ages and backgrounds can relate to Stompin' Tom, and have a lot of affection for the man and his music.

A New Zealand woman sitting next to my wife was heard to say that even though she had her Canadian passport, she had been told that she wouldn't be a true Canadian until she went to a Stompin' Tom concert.

I have to agree :)

July 08, 2004

"U.S. Soldiers apply for Refugee Status in Canada" - Hypocrisy and the U.S.

Two U.S. soldiers who don't agree with the War in Iraq have applied for refugee status in Canada.

Not unlike the draft dodgers in the Vietnam era, who fled the U.S. draft by running to Canada, these two men apparently face court martials and jail time if they return to their home country.

Wasn't it once possible to claim "conscientious objector" status if one didn't believe in the reason for going to war? I had the impression that this was some kind of option for all citizens, but I really don't know much about it, or if it even exists nowadays.

I was watching CBC Newsworld earlier tonight, and a viewer wrote a letter complaining about the irony that the U.S. would prosecute these men for their unwillingness to fight (and be put in a position to possibly kill others), while at the same time, the U.S. Air Force pilot who killed four Canadian soldiers in the "friendly fire" incident in Kandahar, Afghanistan is suing the Air Force for breaching his right to privacy when it publicly releasing his letter of reprimand. He basically got a "slap on the wrist" for actions his superiors deemed "gross misconduct" and "arrogance". He was punished with a letter of reprimand for misconduct, and had to forfeit $5,600 in pay for an act that resulted in the death of four innocent Canadian soldiers. And he has the balls to sue over his human rights?

How preposterous. This seems just a little insane and hypocritical to me.

More background on the "friendly fire" incident