old country

Part 233: Dr Stompin’ Tom Road

RECORD STORE TALES Part 233:  Dr Stompin’ Tom Road

One of the biggest thrills during the record store days was the last vacation I ever took from that place!  I’ve always wanted to go to Eastern Canada, and see the ocean.  I have always been drawn to the sea.  I think this is because of my Italian side, it must be in my blood and DNA.  We came to Canada in 1904 from Porto Empedocle, Sicily.  It is a fishing village on the coast, and my great-grandfather Luigi owned a shop there around the turn of the century.  My great-great grandfather Salvatore was from Amalfi, near Naples.  If you ever see pictures of Amalfi, you might understand why I have always loved the sight of water.

In May 2002, I finally visited the beautiful province of Prince Edward Island.  I got to see the ocean, the harbors and the lobster boats.  We checked out a lot of cool sideroad shops, walked a lot of trails, and played with the vibrant red sand.  We met some of the friendliest people we’d ever encountered.  But there was no way I was leaving Prince Edward Island without doing three important things:

1. Eating lobster in some form every single day.

2. Visiting the Ripley’s Believe It Or Not Odditorium, one of only two in Canada.

3. Setting foot in Skinners Pond, home of Dr Stompin’ Tom Road.

Obviously, I had to pay my respects to the boyhood home of one of the greatest Canadians (# 13) and folk musicians of all time, Stompin’ Tom Connors.  In the end, I accomplished all three of my goals.  Of the five days I spent on the island, I had lobster on every one of them, even having the bizarre McLobster on one of those days.  As an added bonus, I found an interesting piece of guitar-shaped folk art, made by a fellow named Keirras Jeffery, that I had to buy.  It looks awesome on the wall.

Photos of Stompin’ Tom’s eponymous road are difficult to find online, so I proudly present to you a selection of my holiday snaps, May 2002.

Here’s another great site with info on Stompin’ Tom’s home in PEI:  PEI Heritage Buildings – Skinners Pond and Stompin’ Tom Connors

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Part 231: Top 5…of all time?

RECORD STORE TALES Part 231:  Top 5…of all time?

I put in just shy of 12 years at the record store.  That’s a lot of time to work retail.  If you’ve worked retail, you know what I’m talking about.  If you haven’t, it has its ups and downs.  The ups include discounts.  The downs entail being abused by the general public on a daily basis.

I have a nice plaque around here somewhere, commemorating 7 years at the store.  It was a pretty cool gift.  It was a total surprise, how it happened.  My boss phoned me out of the blue one day.

“Mike,” he said.  “I need a list of the top 5 albums of all time.  It’s for an article we’re doing.”

“Cool!” I responded eagerly.  “But what are the parameters?  Is it like rock, or all genres?  Because that’s just a wide-open question.”

“Just what you think are the top albums of all time, that’s all I really need.”

Cool!  I started work on it.  I wanted to be objective, fair.  If I were making a personalized list of a top 5, it would be easy, I know there would be some Kiss and Sabbath in there.  I wanted to discount my own personal biases and try to be as open as possible for this particular list.

First of all, I chose The Wall.  I admit that I chose this over Dark Side due to personal preference, also I think a double album like The Wall deserves many accolades.  I obviously had to give respect to two of the greatest bands of all time, Led Zeppelin and The Beatles.  I chose Zeppelin IV and Abbey Road.  I really couldn’t choose a Zeppelin, so I went with IV as kind of a default answer.  Abbey Road is arguably the most genius the Beatles ever were, so I could easily choose that over Sgt. Pepper’s.

OK, three down!  Even though all three artists I chose were different from each other, they were all rock, so I needed to go outside that box.  To represent country, I decided on Folson Prison by Johnny Cash.  Were this a more personalized list, I would choose San Quentin, but I went with Folsom as it seems to be the best known.

I didn’t know what to pick last, so I went with a cop-out answer.  Back In Black.  What a weak, spineless choice!  What am I a college student?  Anyway, again I decided to be open and think about how many copies it sold, not about the many superior AC/DC albums.

I submitted my list.  A month or two later, I was presented with this plaque!  And these five albums were on the plaque!  My boss had collected lists from a few of us who had been there a while, and given us custom made plaques, with the CDs and everything.  It was really cool and I treasured mine for years.

I only wish he had worded his question differently!  If I had known in advance what he was really asking (thus spoiling the surprise) I would have chosen these five:

5. Iron MaidenPiece of Mind

4. KissAlive

3. Kiss Hotter Than Hell

2. Deep PurpleFireball

1. Black SabbathBorn Again

The original plaque is packed up in a box, as Mrs. LeBrain and I are planning a move to a bigger place.  Here’s the five albums that made it onto the plaque though, at least all albums I proudly own.  And because I don’t do anything small, I own them all in some kind of crazy deluxe box set.  Enjoy.

Gallery: Johnny Cash figure (Sota toys)

 

This was a gift from Mrs. LeBrain.  Johnny Cash, the Man in Black!  This figure, from 2005, captures a younger, tougher Johnny.  I love the little details like the nylon guitar strings, and the gold dots on his necktie.  Not much articulation here, so this one has some very limited poses.  He does come with a nice, detailed railroad track figure stand.

R.I.P. Stompin’ Tom Connors

Stompin' Tom

1936-2013