Local singer-songwriter Joey Only is stomping in for a Prince George Saturday night.
Known for his original alternative folk/country style and assertive presentation style, the Wells-based performer has a national reputation.
What only a few have seen, though, is his rarely used tribute to Stompin’ Tom Connors performance. That is what he brings to the Old Library on Nov. 8. He is offering this special treat as a fundraiser for community radio station CFUR.
“I do do it once in awhile and I think I do it well, but I’m sensitive to it. I don’t know how Stompin’ Tom would feel about this,” Only said.
The late Canadian music legend was reputed as much for his cantankerous mood as for his patriotic ditties, and that is something Only has in common with the bard from the Maritimes.
Both have climbed the musical ladder as self-directed outlaws of the mainstream music industry, but have been embraced by audiences anyway for their clear talent and unflinching authenticity.
And by odd twist of fate, Only has a voice that sounds incredibly like Stompin’ Tom’s. With the right hat, the right shirt, and the right clomp of the foot on stage, the tribute image is complete.
“I tried my hardest to kick a hole right through the board,” said Only, describing the rhythm slap he has borrowed from Connors for these tribute shows. It was Stompin’ Tom’s signature feature.
When Connors last performed in Prince George at CN Centre not long before he passed away, then-mayor Collin Kinsley presented him with a planed slab of beetle-kill wood to remember us by.
“He would literally stomp right through the wood over the course of an hour and a half,” Only said.
“I made a lot of sawdust, and maybe there was a patch of light that could make it through, but I didn’t make a hole all the way through. Not yet, anyway.”
Like Stompin’ Tom, Only has gone out of his way to keep his creative juices flowing while eschewing the trappings of modern life, let alone the celebrity spotlight.
“He was a guy who had it pretty hard and I don’t have a lot of respect for people who have things come too easy,” said Only.
After years of moving around across Canada, living almost a decade in Vancouver, it was the rare hamlet of Wells on the doorstep of Barkerville, at the end of a highway going nowhere else, an hour or so as the crow flies from both Quesnel and Prince George, that he and his family found a comfortable community.
“The cost of living is pretty cheap here. It’s a quiet town and quite a town,” he said. “We bought an enormous building for a stupendously low price. Its a great place to raise kids. I’ve been to many places all across Canada and it’s… not here. This place is a good way to live. I think a lot of people are chasing something they don’t even know, and it helps to just slow down and enjoy the subtleties of life.”
Only, as Stompin’ Tom, pounds the boards of the Old Library (Brunswick Street seniors’ centre) on Nov. 8 at 7:30 p.m.
Tickets are $25 ($20 for seniors) on sale now at Books and Company.