Mar 13, 2013 / 7:07 pm
A public memorial to Stompin' Tom Connors was a joyous celebration Wednesday night, as thousands of devoted fans packed the Peterborough Memorial Centre to pay homage to the late Canadian country icon with songs, signs, suds and one standing ovation after another.
An eclectic mixture of Canadian musicians, politicians and Connors' close friends remembered the unique, black-hatted songwriter behind "Bud the Spud" and "The Hockey Song" while jovial spectators, who had spent the day lining up for access, some singing Connors' songs and sipping beers, responded enthusiastically to every tribute, clip and anecdote.
"We're going to show you we really know how to throw a party," said Connors' longtime promoter Brian Edwards as he introduced the festivities.
While the ceremony had its sombre moments, from the start it was clear that this was not meant to be a mournful event. And given that Connors had an integral role in planning the memorial before his death last week, Edwards and others were able to say with certainty that the rousing remembrance was conducted exactly the way Connors would have wanted.
He even handpicked most of the lineup of performers, beginning with a spirited fiddle medley from Billy Macinnis, who frequently played with Connors.
Calgary's Tim Hus performed his original tribute "Man in the Black Hat," Connors collaborators J.P. Cormier and Dave Gunning teamed for an inspired medley of "Little Wawa" and "Gumboot Cloggeroo," Sylvia Tyson and Cindy Church collaborated on an elegant version of Connors' "Farewell to Nova Scotia" and former Rheostatics frontman Dave Bidini contributed his take on "Bridge Came Tumbling Down."
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