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Stompin’ Tom’s Never Ending Story

Stompin’ Tom’s New CD – a Milestone in His Never Ending Story

Stompin' Tom 1936-2013
Stompin’ Tom 1936-2013

A perception once rooted is hard to disinter.

On page seven of Tom Connors own biography Stompin’ Tom Before The Fame he writes: I had been born Charles Thomas Connors at the stroke of midnight on February 9, 1936, in the General Hospital in Saint John, New Brunswick. My birth certificate shows my mother’s name as Isabel Connors.

Tom was in high school at Saint John Vocational (now Harbour View High) in 1950 when I was in the commercial art course there. He posed for several of the murals painted by Fred Ross that distinguished the corridors of that institution of learning for many decades. And long time RCA fiddling legend Ned Landry is Tom’s cousin on the Sullivan side of their families.

Yet even such an authority on the unique personalities that embroider the pages of Canadian history as Wayne Ronstad was amazed a couple of months ago to learn that Tom hadn’t been born on our Garden of the Gulf. And a favourite recording artist of mine Stew Clayton begins his Tribute To Stompin’ Tom with “From Skinner’s Pond in PEI”.

Part of the myth, of course, derives from Tom himself who for many years opened every concert and TV telecast with “Hello, I’m Stompin Tom from PEI” and, of course, his was the voice of PEI’s TV commercials in those years, as well. Tom in a letter to me, 15 years ago, explained the paradox this way:

“When interviewers ask what they believe to be a simple question they don’t want you to go into a long speech about your entire historical background. I therefor use the following rule of thumb.

Stompin' Tom Connors and Ned Landry
Stompin’ Tom Connors and Ned Landry

“When asked “Where were you born?”, I say Saint John, NB, because that is where I first saw the light of day. When asked “Where are you from”, I say Skinner’s Pond, PEI because that is the first place I could ever call home. When asked where is your home? I presume the question means right now, so I say, just outside Georgetown, Ontario.”

I was amazed a couple of years ago, giving a talk on New Brunswick songs at the Saint John Art Centre, how few of the audience realized Tom was from this city or that he had written songs about the province and Saint John.

In fact the first song he wrote, My Reversing Falls Darling was composed when he was attending Vocational. He, also, wrote and recorded Saint John Blues, The Don Messer Story, Tribute To Wilf Carter (with the line ‘Til the wood camps of New Brunswick hired Wilf for a better wage) and a great radio air-play hit New Brunswick and Mary.

And, now, on his new Ballad of Stompin Tom CD, there’s a very haunting song Rose of Silver Falls, perhaps inspired by a gypsy caravan he saw during his two years at the St. Patrick’s Orphanage near the Falls.The most hilarious song on it is an NB inspired one too, (Working In The) Bush of Bouctouche (because of a gal in Tatamagouche). And the title song Ballad of Stompin’ Tom affirms in its opening line the place of his birth, “I was born in Saint John, New Brunswick, by the sea.”
I think this is Tom’s most impressive and enjoyable album since his release of Fiddle & Song in 1988, an LP/cassette that included such powerful folk ballads as Return Of The Sea Queen, Entry Island Home, Wreck of the Tammy Anne, I Am The Wind and Lady k. d. Lang.

This new CD album of his resonates with the same powerful folk feel! He even includes a real Irish folk song, of IRA origin, Kevin Barry and Wilf Carter’s six decade old Take Me Back To Old Alberta.

Others with a definite folk gene include Birth of The Texas Gulf Mine, My British Columbia Home, Lady Slipper and Ottawa Lures.

And only Tom could take a bawdy song popular during the Second World War, Chase Me Charlie, change the lyrics, but keep its lilting racy rhythm, while transforming it into such a beautiful country love song, one you’ll be humming for days after hearing it. It’s something he did with a song of similar origin The North Atlantic Squadron 33 years ago.

Another selection so hilarious it should have you laughing from beginning to end (it did me) on this new CD is Chickee Pooh (curly eyes and laughing toes, and where did you get those?). And there is a variant of an English folk song that Hank Snow gave new life to in the 1940’s The Cowboy’s Broken Ring. Tom’s mother Isabel died last year, that her favourite song. And there’s another beautiful new song from Tom’s pen, the Bride And Groom Waltz.

The others are updated re-recordings of three of Tom’s greatest hits, The Olympic Song (with a verse about the 2009 Games in BC added), The Hockey Song and the Hockey Mom Tribute.

In his early recording years before details of Tom’s troubled childhood surfaced I wondered why neither he nor Donald Sutherland, who even then had appeared in an amazing number of Hollywood feature movies never mentioned Saint John, their birthplace, in interviews. Unhappy childhoods or, in Donald’s case, I understand, school years, aside, it seemed to me an apathy exist toward entertainers in NB giving Cape Breton and PEI a decided edge. Various international music authorities, in conversations over the years have accessed our province as having more gifted musicians and singers than either of those, The difference, they felt, was we just don’t merchandise tour talent nearly as well.

I had one dismaying example of that myself! When Tom came out of his 1980s decade long hiatus from entertaining and was planning an 80 concert 1990 Ontario to British Columbia and back across to the Atlantic tour his road manager Brian Edwards asked me to inquire if should their first Atlantic provinces concert be in Saint John would his birth city acknowledge the fact with some fanfare?

I took the proposal to the city’s much beloved mayor, a lady I had known since we were children. She thought it was a great idea and that she would present it to council..A week later I had a phone call from a city hall secretary saying council had turned it down. Summerside and Charlottetown, however, grabbed it up quickly, staging a parade, elaborate publicity and banner draped streets.

The new Ballad Of Stompin’ Tom CD should be available at music stores everywhere, or you can visit visit

Country and Western In Memoriam Memories Movie History Music Music History Writing

Bob Nolan’s Inspiration

Hatfield Point Funeral Brings Back Memories of Bob Nolan

I had expected more Southern New Brunswick country music entertainers to attend a funeral in Hatfield Point two Saturdays ago.

The name in the obituaries that week filled me with a sense of deja vu: Robert Nobles, his place of birth, Hatfield Point. According to a brief bio, although born at the point his family had moved with him to Massachusetts when he was four. He was 89 when he died in Holliston, MA on Oct. 14 making the year of his leaving N.B. 1921. Another Robert Nobles, a cousin it was explained to me, had lived with his grandparents at Hatfield Point from the time he was three until he was 12. The Point’s Baptist Church from which the service was held overlooks the beautiful Belleisle from a high hill,

This Bob Nobles with a brother younger brother Earle had left there a year earlier in1920, to live with an aunt near Boston in that same state. Joining their father in Arizona a years later they found their family name had been legally changed to Nolan. Bob claimed his father had it done because Nolan sounded more ‘western’. That Robert Nolan would grow up to become a founding member of the Pioneer Trio, later the Sons Of The Pioneers. The other two singer songwriters were Tim Spencer and Leonard Slye, a name Hollywood studios signing him would change to Dick Weston, then Roy Rogers.

Bob Nolan would eventually become internationally famous for penning such western classics as Tumbling Tumbleweeds, Cool Water, Touch of God’s Hand along with scores of others including two of my all-time favourites: Song Of The Bandit and Echoes From The Hills. Many of the songs would be used in the 79 movies in which he and the Sons of The Pioneers would back western action stars of the 1930’s to 1950’s: stars of the calibre of Charles Starrett, Ken Maynard, Gene Autry, Dick Forin and, of course, Roy Rogers.

A study two decades ago published a statement that Cool Water at that time had been recorded by more different groups and solo artists than any other song. Those included blues artists, rock ‘n roll bands, jazz ensembles and choral groups. In a letter to an aunt in Hatfield Point Bob wrote that when he composed that song he was thinking of the cold, cl;ear spring on his grandparent’s farm. What a claim to fame for this province! But, as so often, we waited to milk the fame of it.

In the 1980’s when our provincial parliament was planning a Come Home To NB Year I suggested Bob’s wife, his brother and daughter: some of our most famous ex-patriots were being invited, all expenses paid. I was assured they would given a priority and lent them biographies, newspaper and magazine articles I’d collected. Bob had died on June 16, 1980. They assured me they would be returned. When I checked two months later I was told they hadn’t been able to locate even one of the three. With just six phone calls in 24 hours I had located and talked with all three. When I called the Come Home Committee spokesperson I was told it was too late, all funds had been allocated. Although I made requests I never saw my loaned items again.

Every country music history book written until a half decade ago, listed Bob as born in New Brunswick and Roy Rogers on his weekly TV show often said Bob had been born just a few miles from Saint John New Brunswick, Canada. When I asked his brother Earle if he was sure they had been born at Hatfield Point he said he was sure he had been but on a visit to the Point in 1938 he’d heard a suggestion that Bob might have been born somewhere else. Winnipeg perhaps. Bob, however, when he’d asked him, said he’d no recollection of living anywhere in Canada but Hatfield Point.

An Elizabeth MacDonald in BC, engaged by the University of North Carolina to collect details of Bob Nolan’s life and to assemble all the songs written by him, in talking with relatives was told of the rumour. Regretfully I mentioned Winnipeg when she asked me. She then hired a professional researcher who found Bob’s birth certificate dated April 8, 1908, Winnipeg. He’d always thought he’d been born on April Fools’ Day. When Bob was elected to the International Songwriter’s Hall of Fame a half decade ago the mayor of Winnipeg and assorted Manitoba dignitaries were there to take bows. New Brunswick was never mentioned.

The Bob Nobles buried in the Point’s Bayview Cemetery on Oct 23, had led a very interesting life, as well. He returned every summer with his parents to holiday at the Point and continued that ritual with his own family. His wife, Lillian J. (McKellar) whom he married in Scotland during the Second World War, in 2006, was buried in the same family plot. A Rev. Boyd who had been pastor of Hatfield Baptist for a dozen years in a eulogy, spoke of Bob’s interesting military career. He had, in one phase of it, manned a listening station in Scotland, part of a code breaking team monitoring German U-Boat radio trans missions. When discovered he was Canadian born, however, he was immediately replaced. Evidently it was thought Canada harboured terrorists even then!

Most of his family had made the trip up. It was one of the warmest, most family oriented funerals I’ve ever attended. And there was lots of talk about the other Robert ‘Bob Nolan’ Nobles, as well.

Concert Country and Western Event Festival Folk Music Uncategorized Visitors

Eve Goldberg and Cori Brewster

SAINT JOHN MENS CHOIR June13th, 7:30pm at Portland United Church, 50 Newport.  Tickets are $15.00 for adults and $10.00 for children/students and can be purchased from chorus members or at the door.

It sounds like  such an interesting and varied song list to be grouped together in one program. Especially interesting (to me) is She Dwelt Among The Untrodden Ways which  I can’t recall ever having heard of or heard and sounds so intriguing.


Gary Morris is back filled more with the spirit of the Celt     than ever!

He, with wife and music partner Tammy Morris, survived   a five week tour of Europe and the UK, the last days spent in Ireland. Now that land of the shamrock, hedgerows, ancient standing stones and music so impressed him evidently, that even before leaving its green shores he had booked this province’s most exciting Irish ancestry fiddling teen,15 year old Kathleen Gorey-McSorley to appear on his Valley Jamboree, this Saturday,7 p.m. at Sussex Regional High.

But since that jet-setting pair of singing multi-talented musicians didn’t touch back down on Canada’s terra firma until last Wednesday Gary’s guest list was far from complete by my deadline. So, as well as Kathleen, the only other acts confirmed were: the Bonny Kilburn Dancers, Port City Jamboree multi-instrumentalist Reg Gallant, and everybody’s favourite country fiddler Allison Inch whom Gary invariably introduces as ‘the nicest man on earth.”

Gary, however, is on record as saying there will be several more guests and all the show’s regulars will appear: Tammy, Jeannie Clark and Cheryl Ellis, who are three of NB”s finest vocalists; comedian Eunice P. Doolittle; singing bassist Dale Butland; lead guitarist Art Boyd and the rest of the great Valley Jamboree band.

Now Kathleen is a celebrated master of Celtic, Appalachian, Old Time, Country, Cajun and French Canadian fiddling styles. But she also plays piano, mandolin and tin-whistles, is an award-winning Irish dancer and acclaimed Cape Breton step dancer. And, now, as a member of the New Brunswick Youth Orchestra, she also has a growing classical violin repertoire.

And, although only 15, she already has had considerable international exposure of her talents, having performed in Ireland, Scotland, the US and many parts of Canada. A couple of the highlights of her travels have been: competing, by invitation, in the Fleadh Cheoil na hEireann at County Offlaly, Ireland and the Canadian Grand Masters Fiddling Championships in Ottawa.

Tickets for Saturday’s Jamboree are now for sale at Hampton Pharmasave; Kennebecasis Drugs (Rothesay) Grand Bay Pharmacy, Colpitts (Petticodiac) and Morris Music (Sussex, Rothesay and Saint John).


Gary Burgess & Friends host a Sussex Corner Country Jamboree Fund raiser, this Saturday 7 p.m. at St. John’s United Church Hall., Sussex Corner. This is their last show until fall so don’t miss it!Featured entertainers include Debbie Connell, Justin Bannister, Gordon Brown, Paul and Francine Hebert and in his first stage appearance in a while, George Horton. The band includes: Denny James, Tom Burgess, Mike McQuarrie and Raymond Thebeau. Tickets are $7.50 at Backstage Music Sussex (433-2122) or at door. Most shows are sell-outs so get your tickets early. The sound is by Dave Stewart and Jim McDermott of Backstage.


A Country Music Jamboree, Saturday 7 p.m. at the Kiwanis Center, Hillborough, hosted by Carolyn Steeves, features the Blue Side of Lonesome band with guests Mort Mills, Al Gauvin, Cecil Beck, Melissa Corey and Mike Kenny. Admission is $6 at door. For info phone 756-8303.


Your last chance, perhaps ever in NB, to see and hear one of Nashville’s great legends Ray Price and his superb world renowned voice, his son Cliff and band The Cherokee Cowboys, is tonight at 7 p.m. at the Playhouse, Fredericton. Tickets will be available at door if any left. To check, call 458-8344 or 1-866-884-5800.


One of the greatest singer songwriters, I think, in North America is appearing at Vintage Bistro, Hampton tonight at 8 p.m. Eve Goldberg for over a decade has been associated with Canada’s leading

folk music label Borealis Records in Toronto. It is an opinion I was recently pleased to learn is shared by a world renowned authority, legendary singer songwriter Peggy Seeger who said recently “I love Eve’s singing…and I’m hard to please.”

(Peggy, a US citizen and her husband Ian MacColl a Scot lived for many years prior to his death in the UK unwelcome in the US because of their perceived Communistic leanings, anti-Vietnam war activities and music which reflected the same. They released dozens of recordings, many heralded even in the USA as of outstanding historical significance. Among songs they wrote is The Ballad of Springhill about Nova Scotia’s disastrous 1958 mine disaster. I had the pleasure of talking with Peggy in Springhill at the 50th Anniversary of that tragedy two years ago. I had spoken briefly with her before at Harvard University on the eve of Ronald Reagan’s first presidential election).

Eve Goldberg will share the Vintage Bistro stage tonight with Cori Brewster, another Canadian singer songwriter described ‘as fresh as a breath of mountain air.’ She has just released her fourth CD album Buffalo Street, a collection of song stories about the Canadian Rockies and it’s people, historical portraits rich in atmospheric imagery and entertaining details.

Eve was born in the Boston area of Massachusetts but has called Toronto, Ontario, home for three decades, since 1981. During those early years in Boston she was greatly influenced by countless concerts she attended by such legends as Pete Seeger and The Weavers, Arlo Guthrie, England’s Watersons, Doc Watson and others with her parents. That exposure to many folk genres has influenced her own many sided songwriting and added to her performing repertoire.

Eve’s three CD albums have a place of high regard in our extensive music library. Her first titled Ever Brightening Day was released to widespread acclaim in 1998 on her own Sweet Patootie label. Although noted for her clear pure voice and dynamic guitar picking it was an original instrumental on it, Watermelon Sorbet, that brought her the most fame. It was used by CBC Radio’s Richardson’s Roundup as an opening theme for many years,. Among other standouts on the disc were Backwater Blues (by Bessie Smith), Waiting For A Train (Eve’s not Jimmie Rodgers’), John McHutcheon’s Know When To Move and Shelley Posen’s Having A Drink With Jane.

Her second CD album Crossing The Water was a highlight of 2003 on the Borealis label. It included not only the most beautiful rendering of the Bill Staines title song I’ve heard, but the most stirring recording of Second World War women’s protest song Rosie The Riveter I’ve heard as well. And her version of Iris De Ment’s Mama’s Opry was among our most played tracks that year.

Her third release, second on Borealis, in 2007, A Kinder Season was tempered by her mother’s death just months before. All 12 songs are originals written by Eve. They include Leaving Nova Scotia, One In A Million and Been In The Storm.

A little bit of a tie-in: early in her Toronto residency Eve was a member of the Acoustic Harvest Folk Club whose numbers included former Saint John Folk Club performer Lillian Wauthier. Lillian still posts the monthly events on the Harvest website.

By the way, Ron Hynes is at Vintage Bistro, June 23 and Garnett Rogers is there June 25-26. Call 832-1212 for details. The Bistro now seats 100 in dining comfort.


A terrific Country Gospel Concert this Sunday, 7 p.m. at the Red Head United Church, Red Head Road, Saint John East features Hazel Marie Robertson, Allison Inch, Living Water Trio, Garth Jones, Shirley McFee, Greg Stevens, The Villageaires, Deek McClusky, Elizabeth Trecartin, Ed ( The Glue) Trecartin and Murray Shiels. Tickets are $10 at Lotte Convenience, Mike’s Jewelery, and from Vince Galbraith 672-8819.


A Hampton Senior Resource Center Benefit Concert featuring Reg Gallant’s Port City Jamboree cast, takes place Sunday 2 to 4 p.m at the Center, Demille Court, Hampton. The cast includes the Port Jamboree band of: Reg, lead guitar and vocals; Walter Prosser, bass guitar; Tim Wallace,drums; C.J. Gallant, guitar and vocals; Allison Inch, fiddle. As well as backing two of NB’s greatest gospel singers, Hazel Marie Robertson and Norma Currie, they will each make solo spotlights. And many door prizes donated by sponsors of this show, will be given away. Tickets are $10 at Kennebecasis Drugs (Rothesay), Grand Bay Pharmacy, Beats & Bytes (Saint John East), Hampton Pharmasave, Len Tonge 832-5009 or Backstage Music, Sussex.


Saint John’s only strictly country music club, the Grove Lounge on Golden Grove Road opens their deck this Saturday, 1 p.m. There will be music by Joyce Boone, Delbert Worden, Matthew O’Connor, and proprietor Gene O’Connor. There’ll be two barbeques, open mikes, many prizes. Everyone invited, no cover charge.

2008 Performers Concert Country and Western Festival Memories

Adam Olmstead

A.G. Olmstead Closes ANE with Memories of Jimmy Rodgers

[from August 2008]

Remember Peach Pickin’ Time In Georgia? In The Jailhouse Now? Keep On The Sunnyside? California Zephyr? Or Gonna Sing, Sing, Sing?

If you love the songs of Jimmie Rodgers, the Carter Family and Hank Williams, Sr. then you’ll revel in the Atlantic National Exhibition’s Closing Concert by A.G. Olmstead & His Old Time String Band tomorrow night, Aug 31, 8 to 10 p.m., on their Building One main stage.

Hailed as a new Jimmie Rodgers on CBC Radio One interviews and concert segments and by leading Nashville session players, who thrilled A.G. when several volunteered to back him on a debut CD a year ago.

“I grew up knowing most of the older artists’ repertoires,” A.G. told me early this spring, “especially Jimmie Rodgers’ because Dad played his records almost every night. Jimmie was his favourite singer and I guess he just naturally became mine, too.”

And, although Jimmie was born in Mississippi and A.G. (Adam to his friends) far north of the Mason-Dixon line in our Maritimes, with St Stephen now his home base, he does sound a lot like the ‘father of country music.’ Even the songs A.G. writes have a Rodgersesque feeling that is nostalgic. Songs about trains, tragedies, drinking and home that he’ll mix with old favourites in concert!

And, although A.G. never railroaded as Jimmie did, he’s has worked blue collar jobs, built logging and construction roads, rambled and lived in many of the same parts of the US that Rodgers did.

At 15, A.G. left NB for a US school with a music curriculum, after graduating, busked for three years in New York where Rodgers was formally signed by RCA, then spent three years playing California clubs, then a three year residency in Texas which was Jimmie’s favourite state and where he lived during his years of great fame. Then travels in Europe, followed by a tour of our Canadian west, a year back home writing and refocusing. Then two years in Nashville, playing clubs, haunting recording label offices, sitting in on jams and backstage parties, getting to know a lot of musicians, some very famous, although he didn’t realize that at the time. Then a recording session at O’Banyon’s Terrace Studio, and a CD of a dozen songs that he’d penned, produced by Alan O’Bryant and recorded, mixed and mastered by Tim Roberts, two prestigious names.

And, amazingly, one of the Nashville based musicians who backed A.G. on that recording, Chris Henry, is making the trip up to play mandolin with A.G.’s band Friday! Chris’s high energy vocals and blistering mandolin solos bring audiences to their feet every where! And Toronto’s Foggy Hogtown Boys fiddler John Showman, a 2004 Juno nominee is joining them: On upright bass there’s Sam Petite who plays with two renowned Toronto string bands. And on banjo NB’s multi-instrumentalist and 2005 ECMA nominee, Al Scott.

Concert Country and Western Event Local History

Stompin’ Tom mentions 3 great NB performers.

Stompin’ Tom said hello and congratulations to Ned Landry on receiving the Order of New Brunswick this year to go with his Order of Canada from a few years ago. He also mentioned that he was sad to hear that George Hector had passed away and between songs told the story of how he met Big John “T-Bone” Little and the encouragement he received from Big John when he was starting out.stompintomnedlandry

Country and Western Folk Local History Memories Movie History Music Music History Writing

US Influence on Canadian Country Music

In my childhood, Wilf Carter was the only Canadian I heard on radio

From October 28, 1983

Any examination of Canadian Country Music would have to take into account the enormous influence of early American Country performers. In my childhood, Wilf Carter was the only Canadian I heard on radio;  later of course by 3 years came Hank Snow,then  Don Messer with Charlie Chamberlain, Duke Neilson and Ned Landry, but all the rest were US singers, morning, noon, suppertimes  and late nights. Soap operas and The Happy Gang ( they were happily, Canadian) took up radio afternoons and into the evening dramas and comedy sketches the length of the diual from 7 p.m. to midnight. There was Fibber McGee and Molly, The Shadow, Amos and Andy and all other fabulous situation character epics that made up radio’s golden age.

Early mornings, in Eastern Canada, you could hear the WLS National Barndance stars such as Linda Parker, Bob Atcher and Bonnie Blue Eyes from six a.m.; perhaps you could hear them earlier but that’s when my father usually turned the radio on and I awoke and knew I had another hour before I had to get up for school.

At noon there were live or transcribed US country music shows and at suppertime, mixed with the news broadcasts, nearly every station had a request country music program.

There were singers like Jimmy Rodgers, Hank Snow’s avowed patron saint for whom he named his only son, Jimmy Rodgers Snow and Gene Autry who made” Silver Haired Daddy of Mine” a stock song of nearly every country singer in Canada. There was blind Georia-born tenor Riley Puckett, whose many solo recordings  included “Rock All Our Babies to Sleep”, later recorded by WIlf Carter and which is reputed to be the first disc to feature a country yodeller. Gid Tanner’s Skillet Lickers created an international hit with “Down Yonder” and Jimmy Davis gave the world “You are My Sunshine” and won an election as Governor of Louisiana in 1944 with it. He inscribed it indelibly in every Canadian country singer’s repertoire for many years to come.

Then late at night there was WWVA Wheeling with all-night disc jockeys and live music mixed. Saturday nights were special; that’ is when you could tune in the great WWVA World’s Original Jamboree with such top country personalities as Doc Williams whose “Old Brown Coat And Me” was recorded by many Canadians; Wilma Lee and Stoney Cooper who made “Walking My Lord to Calver’s Hill a show finale with many Canadian  travelling groups; Lulu Belle and Scotty who wrote and recorded “Good Old Mountain Dew”, “Have I Told You Lately That I Love You” and other great international country favourites.

Earlier on Saturday Night there was the Duke of Paduca, Amer’ca’s crown prince of country comedy and the inspiration for many Canadian travelling shows comedians; Judy Canova had her own radio program and who became the prototype of numerous standup girl comediennes both American and Canadian; Red Foley the first country star  to have his own US network TV show.

Countless great US country music stars crowded the dial including the Grand Ole Opry with Roy Acuff who made the “Wabush Cannonball” as well known in Canada as in the US.  (I’ve even heard a Norton area place name version of it.), Ernest Tubb, a Jimmy Rodgers disciple who arranged Hank SNow’s Grand Ole Opry debut and those two early bands, the Crook Brothers and the Fruit Jar Drinkers who inspired and influenced the creation of many early Canadian country bands. There was an endless procession of  performers, each possessing his own magic. Never to be forgotten either are the National Barndance Saturday night roster, Patsy Montana, the girl who wrote “I ant To Be A Cowboy’s Sweetheart” and was the inspiration of a host of Canadian girl singers such as Terry Parker and Marie King. Irene was Arky The Arkansaw Woodchopper who sang many lumberjack songs familiar to Eastern Canadians and America’s favourite comedian for two decades,  and on and on.

How could any single Canadian fledgling country singer not have been influenced by them? It would only have been possible to escape the i9nfluence if he or she had been raised in a completely isolated backwoods area without radio or phonograph.

I lived in a veyr rural section of N.B., ten miles by horse and wagon to the nearest town. Neither electric lights nor pavement reached us but the telephone did. We had the last phone on the line and it was my job toi run up Jordan mountain and “hollar” the message across to our neighbours.

Yet we did have a battery radio, one of the old timers, operated by a pack of telephone “round cells” . And we had entertainment over it that not even the King of England or the most wealthy potentate in the east could have commanded 30 years earlier in spite o  their power and riches.

That was the first wave of American influence, you might say, the radio wave.

Then there were the movies….the “B” Western was 100 per cent American.

Ken Maynard was the first cowboy to sing on the silver screen. The songs he did were rough, rowdy renderings of authentic western plain songs such as “Get Along little doggie”, “The Trail to Mexico” and “Home On The Range”, songs almost every Canadian was soon singing.

He was followed quickly by Gene Autry,. Maynard featured Autry in his first movie rold “In Old santa Fe” (1934). He brought to celluloid the rest of the Jimmy Rodgers  school of song writing and singing with professionally written songs, professionaloly staged and sung with phantom strings and choruses that seemed to issue from the sagebrush, probably from a vand of hidden Cherokees.

After him came a host of others, including Roy Rogers, Jimmie Wakely, Tex Ritter, Dick Foran and many more. There had to be a musical interlude or two in all these movies. It seemed to be an unwritten law; it was part of the receipe of success.  Those who couldn’t sing pressed the services of Bob Nolan ( a boy who grew up in N.B, and who wrote “Tumbling Tumbleweeds” “Cool Water”, “Wanderers of the Wasteland” and dozens of other classic western songs) and the Sons of the Pioneers, or Roy Williams and the Riders of  the Purple Sage, or a number of other groups of their kind who, in the guise of cowpunchers or dance hall performers, would gather at the round-up campfire or the parlor social hour to sing the latest western hits or a newly composed song the group had written for the occasion.

How could anyone not be influenced? Nearly every radio program record and movie bore the “made in the USA” stamp and most Canadians consumed a large portion of them daily.