Joey Only will play a tribute to Stompin’ Tom Connors at the Treasure Cove Casino November 16.
Joey Only was between a rock and hard place.
He always likes to “do his own thing” but for a long time, he’s also wanted to pay tribute to one of the greatest Canadian country music icons of all time – Stompin’ Tom Connors.
In his hometown of Wells, B.C. Joey Only is known as a hard rock miner who is involved in exploration and also as Joey Only: singer, songwriter who along with Joey Only Outlaw Band – Sean Scallion on drums/percussion, Joel Stern on bass/harmonica, Leah Martin (his wife) on vocals andpercussion – performs his own brand of Canadiana country rock cowboy genre music.
The former radio personality, admits he likes the sound of his own voice but was drawn to the idea of becoming – for a short time – Stompin’ Tom and getting to do his famous songs. He thinks fans are going to really enjoy his Nov. 16 Tribute to Stompin’ Tom Connors Concert at the Treasure Cove Casino Showroom.
It took some persuasion by local promoter Earl Krushelnicki to get the artist to agree to the tribute gig, he says. But after he’d done his homework researching Connors’ life and music, the artist says he’s “up to the challenge” – and eager to see the crowd reaction to his new show.
“I’m experimenting with new things but for the most part I’m putting no a full out Stompin’ Tom show. It meant putting away myself for a day – which is sort of hard for me to do – it [tribute show] has forced me to put my own songs away and study, study, study. I watched videos, I got a book of his songs and short stories. I was looking at everything there was on You Tube.”
Studying him, Joey Only learned how unique he really was.
“I’m trying to make it as genuine as possible. I had to stand different, walk different, make different faces. And I had to change the way I stomp because [Stompin’ Tom] stomps on the second beat – and I was stomping on the first beat, so I had to attack that. I think for a long time people thought what I did was my own natural, close rendition of Tom Connors (he laughs) but after working on this for a long time, I realize that actually our styles are quite different.”
The two-hour show allows time to fit in many well known, much-loved Stompin Tom songs, he says but he also hopes people will come to know some of the legendary artist’s lesser known songs too.
“Most of the ones I’m playing [for the concert] are hits already. It’s sort of like with Johnny Cash, everyone knows 16 songs off his Best Of Johnny Cash album, but they often don’t listen to the artist’s whole gamut of work, they get stuck on two to five songs, and if you do that, you’ve really missed a large volume of his work.”
He hopes the local concert will prove “enlightening” for some people. Does he have a personal favourite Stompin’ Tom song?
“Right now I’m really enjoying Canadian Lumberjack Song. Just playing it, it’s so much fun. I’m trying to bring out what he really did (musically) but I also want to carry forth his message about small towns, the history of our country and how we got to where we are now which has always been a big part of his music and something that I’ve tried to do with my own music going back 10 to 15 years.”
This is the first tribute show Joey Only has done, although for years, he’s been asked to have his band do tribute work.
“My band is actually a lot more electric than you would ever have seen at a Stompin’ Tom concert,” he says. With the new tribute show, it’s up to him – only.
“It’s not that I’m in love with myself,” he says. “It’s just that I’m … (he pauses for the words) neurotically driven to be who I am.”
Only says he first performed a “part” pilot show in Wells to rave reviews.
“It was a half Stompin’ Tom, half Joey Only concert. This time (for Prince George) I’m going to go for a second attempt to see how far I can take this. Part of my reservation in doing this is that I don’t know if Tom Connors would appreciate someone mimicking him. And I don’t know if he would approve of my show – but I’ve tried very hard to be sensitive in my tribute.”
Joey Only’s Stompin’ Tom Connors Tribute Concert is on Saturday, Nov. 16 at the Treasure Cove Casino Showroom. Tickets are $25 and are available at Books and Company. Doors open at 7:30 p.m. Show starts at 8:30 p.m.
About the Author
Teresa Mallam is community editor and award winning columnist for the Prince George Free Press. She’s won the Jack Webster Award of Distinction, Canadian Authors Association Award for Best Investigative Journalism (B.C. Report Magazine story on the murder of Mary Jane Jimmie,) B.C. Law Society Award for Excellence in Legal Reporting, Cariboo Mining Association (CMA) Award for Best Mining Reporting of the Year and Jerry MacDonald Award for community reporting for a story on homelessness.