Found Footage: Stomp Along with 30 Songs of Stompin’ Tom Live in 1973
Although he is best remembered for “The Hockey Song“, Stompin’ Tom Connors was more than just a Maple Leaf-stamped novelty jingle jukebox. Connors was a fiery Canadian country and folk singer-songwriter with a passion for storytelling, and a New Brunswick-born rambler who saw every nook and cranny of the country by hitching boxcars, working in mines and singing for his supper. Stompin’ Tom was a through-and-through Canadian who was sopped with a patriotism more akin to the working class passion of Woody Guthrie and the Dust Bowl folk singers of the 1930s, and less like the nationalist country stars who sell their songs to politicians. Connors had a one of a kind voice, but yet spoke for the everyman; he had the sense of humour of your foolish uncle, but told stories like your wise grandfather. When Connors professed his love for his country, he really professed his love for its people. You can see that love in the glimmer in his eye, just above his saucy smile of confidence, as he would stomp a hole through his repertoire of songs on a stage, and revel in the captivation of a crowd.
Across This Land (1973)
The late 1960s and early 1970s was a particularly prolific time for Stompin’ Tom. From 1967-1975, Connors released 13 albums in just eight years. In 1972, the NFB released This is Stompin’ Tom, a short film that featured footage of Connors in performance, as well as in conversation. Following the success of the film, a young aspiring filmmaker named John C.W. Saxton — who went on to write campy exploitation films like Class of 1984 — embarked on a project to take the larger than life persona of Stompin’ Tom to feature-length proportions. With a minimal budget, and a production crew of students that included future body horror pioneer David Cronenberg, Saxton created Across This Land in 1973.
Across This Land decorates a 90 minute live concert of Stompin’ Tom at the Horseshoe Tavern in Toronto with weaves of stock footage, landscape shots of the Canadian cities and countrysides, as well as random slices of public domain silent films.
Throughout his storied life and career, Stompin’ Tom Connors not only dedicated himself to producing Canadian music and arts, but he was a cultural pillar who advocated and fought for Canadian content. In addition to protesting the lack of support given to Canadian artists due to policies of the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission, Connors was also known to boycott the Juno Awards, largely due to their focus on Canadian musicians who had relocated their business to the United States.
The footage found within Across This Land is a true testament to Stompin’ Tom’s dedication and demeanour, and it is also a warm piece of nostalgia that hits you right in your Canadian feels like a big hot glob of maple syrup.