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What's New

As time goes by you will soon see this page grow with current news on Tommy Hunter and or any new updates to the official site. We will also keep all the past updates archived below the current ones so that you will not miss out on any past news updates.

 

JULY – 2018 UPDATE

TOMMY HUNTER HONOURED BY THE BARN DANCE HISTORICAL SOCIETY

 

Tommy Hunter receiving an award from the barn dance historical society.

Saturday May 26, 2018 was a very special night for Tommy Hunter as he was honoured by the “Barn Dance Historical Society” receiving their prestigious “Barn Dance Pioneer Award”. The presentation took place in Blyth Ontario at the main performance of the group’s annual Campout Weekend at the Blyth & District Community Centre.

In 1937 one of the announcers on CKNX Radio in Wingham Ontario ran a program of country music called “The CKNX Barn Dance”. The show was so successful that the station decided to continue it on a regular basis, but using live music from various remote locations. Utilizing long distance telephone lines to carry the signal back to the radio station, the now “live” show was broadcast from various locations throughout Southwestern Ontario in front of an audience. By 1950 the show was well known as “Canada’s Largest Travelling Barn Dance”, and would remain on the air for over 25 years. Among others the show included regular appearances by such entertainers as Al Cherney, Maurice Bolyer, The Mercey Brothers, and an up and coming artist by the name of Tommy Hunter.

The “Barn Dance Historical Society & Entertainment Museum” was formed some years later with the mission of “preserving the memory of the builders, musicians, and entertainers who were featured on the CKNX Barn Dance”. As part of its mission to preserve the music and the memories the group runs a number of live shows each year featuring country entertainers both old and new.

“We are very proud tonight finally to present our Barn Dance Pioneer Award to Canada’s Country Gentleman – the one and only Tommy Hunter” said Jim Swan, well known radio announcer and emcee for the evening. President Ruth Baxter presented the award as well as a lifetime membertship to the Barn Dance Society. Other past recipients of the Pioneer Award include Gordon Lightfoot and Shania Twain.

Upon receiving the award Tommy said it was a tremendous honour for him to be in Blyth that night, and that he greatly appreciated the hundreds in attendance for their years of love and support.

His first order of business on the stage, however, was to sing “Happy Birthday” to emcee and long time CKNX voice Jim Swan who happened to be celebrating his 75th birthday that night. Hunter was emotional after the song, saying it was the first time he sang on stage since his final concert which was held at Budweiser Gardens in London in 2012 on his 75th birthday. He then signed off his appearance that night with the same words he had used on television and at his live concerts for decades… “Be the good Lord willing, we’ll be talking to you again real soon”.

The audience members, who had stood from the moment Hunter stepped on the stage, remained standing as Tommy walked off the stage to the music of the Barn Dance Historical Society band playing the theme song that opened and closed both his TV show and live stage shows for decades, “Travelin’ Man”. There wasn’t a dry eye in the house!

JUNE – 2018 UPDATE

TOMMY HUNTER IS A ‘FAN’ TOO!

Country music legend Tommy Hunter unveils his stamp!

Over the years Tommy Hunter has often told the iconic story of the day when he went to his first concert as a young boy in London Ontario. His dad took him to see “Roy Acuff his Smokey Mountain Boys” live at the London arena. At the time Acuff was one of the biggest stars on the famous “Grand Ole Opry”, and until that day Tommy had only been able to hear the group when the show was tuned in on the family radio on Saturday night. He would huddle down close to the radio and try to hear every note as the show came through the often static-filled signal and imagine what it would be like to actually be sitting in Nashville’s Ryman auditorium where the show was being broadcast live. From that day forward Tommy was hooked, and knew he wanted to be a performer.

As the saying goes, “a lot of water has passed under the bridge” since that day. Tommy did in fact become a performer. He would spend years performing live on radio, appear as a cast member for nine years on the ground breaking Television show, “Country Hoedown” complete thirty six consecutive years with “The Tommy Hunter Show” on CBC, and perform live in concert all over the world for 65 years.

When Tommy chose to hang up his guitar for the last time on his 75th birthday the music may have stopped, but his love for honest-to-goodness true Country and Bluegrass music did not. Now in this day and age of the internet Tommy enjoys spending some of his leisure time searching “Youtube” and other popular sites for the music that he loves… and he would be the first to admit that one of his all-time favourite artists is the lady known worldwide as “The Queen of Bluegrass”… Miss Rhonda Vincent.

Rhonda Vincent and her group “The Rage” appeared on Tommy’s 2003 Television Reunion Special, and they became both friends and great fans of each other. Imagine his surprise on the day of his 80th birthday at a private party staged by friends and family, when the door opened and in walked Rhonda and her entire group. Having played in Washington the night before they had detoured her bus and traveled all night to attend his party. For the next two hours they played nothing but Tommy’s requests. Following a time of “food and fellowship”, they climbed back on the bus and headed home… once again riding all night to Nashville where Rhonda had commitments the very next day. Friendship doesn’t get much better than that!

When it was announced that “Rhonda Vincent and The Rage” would perform at the 2018 Tottenham Bluegrass Festival Tommy knew where he wanted to be. So, on a brutally hot Saturday in June Tommy headed his car towards Tottenham and was overwhelmed by the welcome he received. Seemingly “word had leaked” that he would be attending and event organizers rolled out the welcome mat. Perhaps the biggest welcome of all was received from “The Queen of Bluegrass” herself, insisting that Tommy stay on her bus out of heat until show time, giving him the rare opportunity to share stories, laughs and memories with Rhonda and her band. If you know much about Ms. Vincent you know that she is also “The Queen of Facebook Live”, devoting much time each week to keeping in touch with fans through this modern method of instant communication. Here we share with you Rhonda’s “video visit” with Tommy that afternoon. So, as they used to say on Television….. “Ladies and Gentlemen, once again…. here’s Tommy!” Enjoy!

MARCH – 2017 UPDATE

TOMMY HUNTER celebrates a milestone birthday on Monday March 20th. The much-loved TV personality and country music singer will turn 80 on that day! Hunter retired from the concert stage five years ago to the day in 2012 and has been happily ensconced in retirement ever since. The soon to be octogenarian is best known for “Country Hoedown” and “The Tommy Hunter Show” which broadcast into Canadian homes for a ground breaking 36 years. Canada’s “Travelin’ Man”, with an endearing stage presence and familiar voice, brought back a simpler time and place when family members gathered around the television on Friday night – a ritual that was well established and time honored regardless of where in the country you lived. Tommy Hunter remails a true home-grown legend and of course, always, “Canada’s Country Gentleman”. Hunter will celebrate the day with family and friends.

OCTOBER – 2014 UPDATE

IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

Country music legend Tommy Hunter unveils his stamp!

Tommy Hunter's official Canadian stamp

Saturday May 26, 2018 was a very special night for Tommy Hunter as he was honoured by the “Barn Dance Historical Society” receiving their prestigious “Barn Dance Pioneer Award”. The presentation took place in Blyth Ontario at the main performance of the group’s annual Campout Weekend at the Blyth & District Community Centre.

In 1937 one of the announcers on CKNX Radio in Wingham Ontario ran a program of country music called “The CKNX Barn Dance”. The show was so successful that the station decided to continue it on a regular basis, but using live music from various remote locations. Utilizing long distance telephone lines to carry the signal back to the radio station, the now “live” show was broadcast from various locations throughout Southwestern Ontario in front of an audience. By 1950 the show was well known as “Canada’s Largest Travelling Barn Dance”, and would remain on the air for over 25 years. Among others the show included regular appearances by such entertainers as Al Cherney, Maurice Bolyer, The Mercey Brothers, and an up and coming artist by the name of Tommy Hunter.

The “Barn Dance Historical Society & Entertainment Museum” was formed some years later with the mission of “preserving the memory of the builders, musicians, and entertainers who were featured on the CKNX Barn Dance”. As part of it’s mission to preserve the music and the memories the group runs a number of live shows each year featuring country entertainers both old and new.

“We are very proud tonight finally to present our Barn Dance Pioneer Award to Canada’s Country Gentleman – the one and only Tommy Hunter” said Jim Swan, well known radio announcer and emcee for the evening. President Ruth Baxter presented the award as well as a lifetime membertship to the Barn Dance Society. Other past recipients of the Pioneer Award include Gordon Lightfoot and Shania Twain.

Upon receiving the award Tommy said it was a tremendous honour for him to be in Blyth that night, and that he greatly appreciated the hundreds in attendance for their years of love and support.

His first order of business on the stage, however, was to sing “Happy Birthday” to emcee and long time CKNX voice Jim Swan who happened to be celebrating his 75th birthday that night. Hunter was emotional after the song, saying it was the first time he sang on stage since his final concert which was held at Budweiser Gardens in London in 2012 on his 75th birthday. He then signed off his appearance that night with the same words he had used on television and at his live concerts for decades… “Be the good Lord willing, we’ll be talking to you again real soon”.

The audience members, who had stood from the moment Hunter stepped on the stage, remained standing as Tommy walked off the stage to the music of the Barn Dance Historical Society band playing the theme song that opened and closed both his TV show and live stage shows for decades, “Travelin’ Man”. There wasn’t a dry eye in the house!

AUGUST 22 – 2013 UPDATE

Tommy Hunter receiving an award from the barn dance historical society.

JUNE 27 – 2017 UPDATE

Tune in this Canada Day Weekend to hear a re-broadcast with Tommy Hunter on the CBC feature “MY PLAYLIST”. The program can be heard Sunday June 30 at 3pm on Radio 2 or 9 pm on Radio 1. 

http://www.cbc.ca/

FEBRUARY 21 – 2012 UPDATE

A GREAT CBC TELEVISION NEWS FEATURE AIRED JUST PRIOR TO HIS 2012 FINAL CONCERT TOUR. 

http://www.cbc.ca/video/#/News/TV_Shows/The_National/Arts_and_Entertainment/1244506888/ID=2198951782 

NOVEMBER 3 – 2010 UPDATE

CANADA’S COUNTRY GENTLEMAN – TOURS CANADA – ONE LAST TIME

November 2, 2010 (Peterborough, ON) – Canada’s ‘Travelin’ man, will soon embark on his last cross Canada tour – resting his guitar against a stool for the last time by the close of 2012 and his 75th year.

The tour will take place in two parts – the first leg, set for the spring of 2011 will cover British Columbia to Ontario, beginning in the nation’s capitol and ending in Edmonton, the one city Hunter has visited the most in his career. The second leg, planned for early 2012, begins in Newfoundland and closes in Ontario. Still enjoying good health, this last tour will be a celebration of a legendary Canadian icon and the last opportunity to share the music and the memories!

Tommy Hunter, affectionately known to his legion of fans as Canada’s country gentleman came into our living room for 36 years – first on Country Hoedown and later on The Tommy Hunter Show. His endearing stage presence and familiar voice brings back a simpler time and place – when the family gathered around the television on Friday night to watch the Tommy Hunter show – a ritual that was well established and time honoured regardless of what pocket of the country you lived in. Almost as popular as the music, was the reading at the close of the show – reflective and comforting – and for many a moment not to be missed.

The final cross Canada tour will for one last time, give fans an opportunity to enjoy in concert, songs such as “You Are My Sunshine”, “I’ll Fly Away”, “Amazing Grace” “Man of 87” “King of The Road”, “Daisy A Day” and of course his signature song, “Travelin’ Man”.

The stories, the music, the final bow from a man who has entertained us through 6 decades – a tour not to be missed – and one to be remembered.

OCTOBER 18 – 2006 UPDATE

CANADA’S COUNTRY GENTLEMAN – TOMMY HUNTER

You can set the scene anywhere you like in Canada. It could be in a small town in the Rocky Mountains, a town or city of any size in Ontario, a small farming community on the Prairies, or a small fishing village in the Maritimes, but the story is always the same. Each week families gathered together in their living rooms to welcome home a man who had become a trusted family friend. He came no matter what the weather, or what the time of year. He brought music, laughter, new faces and legends, but most of all familiarity and a warm infectious smile. He was “Canada’s Country Gentleman”, Tommy Hunter.

When it was announced in 1992 that his show would no longer be a part of CBC’s annual lineup, fans literally wept.

Now over 14 years later Tommy Hunter continues the tradition by bringing his live stage show to the people who made his TV show a success for over twenty seven consecutive years. Many have described it as a warm trip down memory lane as Tommy and his band “The Travelin’ Men” sing the familiar songs, tell the stories, play the tributes, and in general re-live the memories of the longest running family variety show in television history.

Tommy Hunter – a man who “rules the stage” with a presence that comes only after decades of performing, with a voice that would be the envy of many of today’s top singers.

Tommy Hunter Live In Concert – it’ll make you feel “right at home again”.

FEBRUARY 21 – 2006 UPDATE

BACKSTAGE WITH ‘THE GENTLEMAN’

Belleville Intelligencer
Saturday, January 28, 2006
By Luke Hendry – The Intelligencer

It has been a brutal 24 hours for Tommy Hunter. After performing in Quebec, he has come through a tortuous bus ride through a snowstorm and slept only a few hours. But amazingly, as he steps into the green room at the Empire Theatre, there is no trace of fatigue. Hunter is upbeat, personable, and ready to go. There are just 15 minutes to showtime.

The Canadian music legend ducks into a dressing room, fiddling with the earphones that tell performers how they’re sounding to the crowd. After a few adjustments, he slips on the jacket of his grey three-piece suit, a jacket which bears his Order of Canada pin. “Okay, let’s go upstairs and see if we can do a show,” says Hunter, breezing through the green room and into the wings.

The band has been playing an instrumental for about a minute. Hunter strides quickly but easily onto the stage, slides on his acoustic guitar, and another Tommy Hunter Show is underway. The packed house, the first of two audiences Hunter will see today, loves the first set. Mostly seniors, they remember all the tunes and sing along, whether the number is one of Hunter’s or something penned by Roy Acuff, Johnny Cash, and others.

When the curtains close at intermission, Hunter immediately turns to his band, laughing as he admits rearranging some lyrics and talks with the band about tweaking a few things. “If there’s anything wrong, I’ll nail it right away,” he explains back in the dressing room. Hunter brews some tea, but then spends most of the break talking with a few guests who’ve come backstage. When theatre owner and real estate broker Mark Rashotte pops in for a quick hello, the two talk about buying and selling homes.

The performer then touches up his stage makeup and gets only a sip or two of scalding-hot tea before launching into the second set. This brings more applause and more laughs at his asides between songs.

Hunter turns 69 this year, but his onstage banter reveals some fans think he’s older — and he’s the first to make age jokes. “People forget I started when I was 19,” he will later tell visitors backstage. After the better part of two hours on stage, the curtains close again.

Hunter travels with a band of Steves — Steve Petrie on lead guitar and fiddle, Steve Smith on steel guitar, and Steve Piticco on bass — plus Ken Post on drums. Offstage and on, he is quick to credit some of his success to others in his group. “I’ve got excellent people who work with me. The absolute best. That’s what makes the show a success. It’s not me. “You get a bond when you’re on the road with them,” he adds. “We become a family.”

Hunter points to his relationship with business manager Brian Edwards, with whom he has worked for 26 years. “We did it all on a handshake,” says Hunter, adding Edwards is “like a son to me.”

The theatre is mostly empty when Hunter walks into the lobby. He jumps onto a tour bus to say goodbye to some fans, then signs a few autographs. “As long as I have my fans, as long as I have my health, and as long as I can hit the mark.” That mark, he says, is a high standard of performance. “If I can’t hit that mark, it’s time to say goodbye.”

FEBRUARY 20 – 2006 UPDATE

TOMMY HUNTER SHOW COMES TO THE FORT!

Country Legend shows off his famous voice, guitar licks
by: Michael Spears, Staff Writer – February 10, 2006

FORT SASKATCHEWAN RECORD – It’s too bad that to be considered a legend you have to be either dead or in the later years of your life. That too was true for Canadian country legend and TV fixture Tommy Hunter who played to a packed house at the Shell Theatre Tuesday afternoon.

Whether he had the audience laughing at his cornball jokes, or if he was showing off by contorting himself while paying a fiddle the crowd loved it.

The spry 68 – year – old ruled the stage with a presence that comes only after decades of performing in front of live audiences and for TV Cameras.

His set featured four extremely talented musicians, of which three out of four share the common first name of Steve, which lead to a long running gag.

Though on the tail-end of his cross country Canadian tour Hunter showed off his voice with a vocal range that would be the envy of many other singers.

His songs in the show featured tributes to many of the guests that graced his stage including Wilf Carter, and Johnny Cash.
(reprinted with permission)

SEPTEMBER 30 – 2005 UPDATE

TOMMY HUNTER SHOW COMES TO THE FORT!

Tommy Hunter to be honoured with a Lifetime Achievement Award at the 27th annual Covenant Awards, October 22nd in Toronto. Canada’s Country Gentleman Tommy Hunter will be honoured with a Lifetime Achievement Award at the 27th Annual Covenant Awards, to be held October 22nd in Toronto Ontario.

The Lifetime Achievement Award, awarded by the Canadian Gospel Music Association annually, is given to an individual or group that the CGMA board feels has had a profound influence on or significantly impacted the Gospel Music arts in Canada. This year the CGMA wants to honor Tommy for his years on television and the strong Gospel music content of his shows, particularily the great number of times he closed his show with the singing of a hymn or a inspirational reading. As well, Tommy has to his credit several albums that are either hymns or inspirational readings, including “Songs of Inspiration” Volumes 1 and 2 and “Tommy Hunter – Readings”.

His guests over the years included many Gospel music artists including Cristy Lane, Johnny Cash, Roy Rogers and Dale Evans, Ricky Skaggs and many others.

The Canadian Gospel Music Association is a non-profit organization run by a board of volunteers to promote the growth of Gospel music in Canada. The organization started over 27 years ago and annually hands out “Covenant” awards, which like the Juno awards are industry awards voted on by Gospel music experts and CGMA members. Along with the awards, the CGMA sponsors educational seminars that deal with issues of record production, management, staging, licensing, publishing and album design.

MAY 10 – 2005 UPDATE

Tommy would like to extend his sincerest congratulations to Jack Jensen, former member of “The Rhythm Pals” who recently received  “The Order of British Columbia”.  “The Rhythm Pals” were one of the Tommy Hunter Show’s featured groups for many years. Congratulations Jack!


Tommy would once again like to thank everyone who expressed their concern following his surgery for Prostate Cancer in the summer of 2004. He has received a clean bill of health from his Doctors, and is feeling great!


Everyone connected with the 2005 Tommy Hunter Show tour would like to thank all the fans and friends who came out in such big numbers all across Canada. Tommy really does enjoy performing, and is already looking forward to his 2006 tour.

Archived News

For Immediate Release: Mississauga, Ontario (July 19, 2004)
Brian Edwards, business manager for Tommy Hunter Productions today confirmed that Tommy Hunter, known as Canada’s Country Gentleman, is resting comfortably after undergoing successful surgery for prostate cancer.

Tommy is expected to make a full recovery and is looking forward to his cross-country tour in January and February of 2005.

Tommy Hunter is best remembered for his long running television program, The Tommy Hunter Show. His last special, which aired in March 2003, was viewed by more than a million fans, and was one of the highest rated network shows of the season, attesting to the performer’s longstanding popularity.

THANK YOU! TELEVISION SPECIAL AN OVERWHELMING SUCCESS

Promo material for the Tommy Hunter show special. Read caption for full text.

Canadian country music legend Tommy Hunter returned to television for the first time in more than a decade with the special TOMMY HUNTER: TALK ABOUT THE GOOD TIMES which aired Sunday, March 16 at 7 p.m. on CBC Television.
TALK ABOUT THE GOOD TIMES featured clips from his long-running CBC Television series, performances from top country music stars and regulars, and affectionate backward glances at former Tommy Hunter Show guests who are now international stars (i.e:, Anne Murray, Shania Twain, Garth Brooks, Vince Gill.)

Special guests appearing live included bluegrass artist Rhonda Vincent and her band, the hit-making Canadian country trio The Wilkinsons, and long-time Tommy Hunter Show regulars Donna and Leroy Anderson. Even Canadian actress Cynthia Dale made a special cameo appearance to repeat the song and dance she performed with Tommy on the show when the she was only 11 years old. It was indeed a night of memories.

As part of the program Tommy paid tribute to such music legends as Roy Acuff, Hank Snow and Wilf Carter, and, in keeping with his tradition of presenting new talent, introduced 11-year-old banjoist Isaac Balson and 9-year old fiddler Tom Fitzgerald who were joined by the energetic River Road Cloggers from Brampton, Ontario.

Perhaps for many the highlight of the show was Tommy himself, who looked great, had that same sparkle in his eye, and sang better than ever. Towards the end of the special when he picked up that famous book, sat down on the same stool he had always used, and recited the reading “No Charge”, there weren’t likely many dry eyes anywhere in this Country.

As the show softly came to a conclusion one could clearly detect the emotion in his voice as Tommy thanked all the people who made his 27 years on CBC a success… something he never had a chance to do when the regular series ended in 1992.

As the clock clicked away the final few seconds, Hunter turned to his band and with a smile said “all right boys… one more time”… and closed this show the same way he did week after week for 27 years, singing “I Am A Travelin’ Man”.

TOMMY HUNTER: TALK ABOUT THE GOOD TIMES was created by the award winning production team that made the original CBC series so popular, producer/writer Les Pouliot and director Joan Tosoni.

Tommy Hunter standing with the queen.

During her visit for the CBC Television 50th Anniversary, Queen Elizabeth 11 and Tommy Hunter exchange greetings during the offical reception.

Tommy’s 36 year television career was noted as “quite an achievement” by the Queen who congratulated Canada’s country gentleman for his contribution to the CBC TV programming.

The Queen’s Golden Jubilee and CBC Television’s 50th Anniversary were simultaneous occurrences which provided the opportunity for Her Majesty and Tommy Hunter to meet in person.

‘Country Gentleman’ Returns

old photo of tommy hunter paying guitar

By Ron Keessar,
Entertainment Critic

Canadian show biz extraordinaire of over four decades, Tommy Hunter brought his ‘Still Making Memories’ tour to the Red Deer Memorial Centre to the extreme delight of his many loyal fans. Hunter performed at this same venue almost two years ago to the day and is certainly an embracing sight any day of the year.

Canadian Country Music legend Tommy Hunter along with his accomplished four-piece band, The Travelin’ Men entertained an enthusiastic sold out crowd Thursday night at the Red Deer Memorial Centre.

The Charming 64 year old entertainer from Aberfoyle, Ontario rekindled a lot of fond memories for fans of the popular ‘Tommy Hunter Show’ that debuted in 1965 on CBC-TV and ran for an incredible 27 seasons, interestingly making the program the longest run of its kind in television history.

The toe-tapping audience enjoyed a fast paced show that featured a variety of bluegrass, gospel and traditional numbers, and were also dazzled with a hilarious display of Tommy balancing his 6′ something frame on one leg while playing fiddle between his raised leg.

After a brief intermission the ‘Hall Of Famer’ returned to the dimly lit stage and while sitting high upon a stool shared many interesting and comical tidbits of his personal family life that had the crowd roaring with laughter.

Tommy later was handed that old famous black book and totally captivated the audience with the reading of ‘No Charge’.

In a scene so reminiscent from the past, Hunter closed the show with the obvious comment, “Thanks for coming to the show and be the good a LORD willin’ we hope to see you again” and ended with the theme song ‘Travelin’ Man’ throughout an approving standing ovation.

After the show the gifted country gentleman was greeted with a line-up of autograph seekers and well wishers vowing to return in another “couple of years”.

With his never compromising lifelong commitment to putting on a good clean family oriented show rarely seen of today and having a huge following of both young and old, Mr. Hunter will be a welcomed sight for many years to come.

CJME Radio Studio

Collage. 1: Tommy hunter sitting with Susan Einarsson at the CJME radio Studio. 2: Tommy hunter signing his name on the wall of the studio.

Tommy Hunter seated in Regina’s CJME Radio Studio with Talk Show host Susan Einarsson during his visit there in January.

Hunter accepted the station’s invitation to drop by in person and appear live on Einarsson’s show, where the two reminisced about Tommy’s 36 years on Television, and fielded calls from Regina area listeners who brought forth their own special memories of The Tommy Hunter Show.

That same evening Tommy proved that he is “Still Making Memories” as another huge crowd attended his Regina performance in person. Before leaving the studio, Tommy signs the CJME “Wall of Fame”.

Tommy Hunter Honored By Legion Members During Tour 2001

Tommy Hunter recieving and award from the canadian legion.

It was a flashback to some 40 years ago, and brought back some wonderful memories. On January 23, 2001, during his concert in Elliot Lake Ontario, Tommy was presented with a “Certificate of Appreciation” from Royal Canadian Branch 561, for his outstanding entertainment contribution to the Canadian Forces.

In making the presentation on behalf of the Legion, George Lipinski particularly remembered the occasion when Tommy and his group performed for Canadian forces troops in the Sinai Desert in Egypt over 40 years ago when Lipinski was a member of the Lord Strathcona’s Horse Royal Canadians Reconnaissance Squadron.

“His performance in Egypt was just as terrific and outstanding as it is here tonight” said Lipinski.

“We did twenty three tours overseas”, said Tommy Hunter, following the presentation. “Those tours were very special to us as we tried to bring some pleasure to those who were serving so far from home. I sincerely appreciate receiving this Certificate. It means a lot to know that the Legion Members have fond memories of those shows”.

Canada’s Country Music Gentlemen – Friday February 2, 2001

Written by Kim Jamieson
Photos by Wayne Tozzi
©2001 Opry North

The prospect of covering one of Canada’s most prominent, best loved entertainers would leave one a little apprehensive at the best of times, but when that entertainer is universally known as “Canada’s Country Gentleman” and had been a staple of Canadian television culture for over 30 years – yes, I was more than apprehensive. Tommy Hunter was on the last few dates of his tour when he rolled into Newmarket with his Travelin’ Men to play at the Newmarket Theatre for yet another capacity crowd. Having accomplished 37 shows in 28 days on this latest tour you’d think the charm would have started to fade a little or the ramrod straight posture start to slouch just a tad but we’re talking about one of the biggest pros you’ll ever see on a stage – anywhere. Everything would be just as spit-and-polished as it should be with not a sign of road weariness showing. That is the mark of a true professional.

Brian Edwards, who is Tommy Hunter’s manager and the owner of the Rocklands Talent and Music Incorporated, kicked off the show. Now, Brian Edwards is a story all on his own, but when you add him to the Tommy Hunter factor you’re talking about some pretty big players in the music industry and I was in awe already. Brian spoke about the current tour, the history of the Tommy Hunter shows and the Internet presence through Tommy’s website (yes, Tommy’s on our artists links page). He then introduced the crowd to The Travelin’ Men, dressed to the nines in their tux’s before announcing the man himself, Mr. Tommy Hunter. You’ve never felt so much love for an entertainer as we did when the tall, impeccable form of this instantly recognizable man strode out into the centre of the stage. With not a hair out of place, the largest smile and a beautifully tailored blue suit you could see why he appeared to be every inch a ‘gentleman’. As the show progressed you would learn that it wasn’t just his appearance.

The first song had us ‘talkin about the good times’ before they headed into “Y’all Come”. And right from the start, folks were singing along. “Rolling In My Sweet Baby’s Arms” was followed by a tribute to Wilf Carter with one song merging seamlessly into the next until “I’m Ragged But I’m Right”. With little stops to talk to the crowd or share some interesting memory Tommy had the crowd enjoying more than just the music, they were spending time with a friend and it was really something to see. Some horseplay with lead guitarist Steve Petrie had everyone chuckling as they teased each other, one (Steve) ‘misbehaving’ and the other (Tommy) having to put him back in line (or did he?). After this series of little joking bits the group did some reminiscing about the old “Country Hoedown” show that Tommy had started on. He told us the story of one of his background dancers who’d decided he’d wanted his own career in the music industry, so he left to record his own music. Tommy recalled he’d wished him well, though he’d been a great dancer, and then heard him on the radio a few months later. Yes, Gordon Lightfoot had moved on to bigger things and he did all right.

“Have I Told You Lately That I Love You” followed “North Wind” before Tommy told us about his guitar lessons at nine years old and learning “Wild Wood Flower”, which he headed into with a little accompaniment by Steve. Time to introduce us to the band. Tommy tours with ‘four Steve’s and one Miche’, adding that all he has to do is call “Steve” and most of the band shows up. Steve Smith on steel guitar and dobro, Steve Piticco on bass, Miche Pouliot on drums and Steve Petrie on lead guitar and fiddle are four of the reasons that the Tommy Hunter show does as well as it does. They are very impressive.

“Roly Poly” was the solo that the band performed on their own, showcasing how tight and polished they are before Tommy re-emerged to give the crowd his ‘most requested song’ of any show at any venue; Amazing Grace. Tommy’s tribute to Hank Snow was what he called “There’s Nothing Like Them Old Railroad Songs” and it was a very enjoyable interlude. While Steve Piticco did the ‘old ’97 Tommy got his fiddle out and really let it fly. And what show would be complete without an example of what legend Al Cherney had taught him, the fiddle played behind his back and then under one leg while he balanced on the other. Now, I couldn’t balance on one leg for that long, never mind trying to play my fiddle under it (and yes, I do have one but that’s another story). Absolutely extraordinary! Next Steve Petrie emerged with his fiddle and we were treated to an incredible example of ‘dueling fiddles’. Tommy teased him, asking, “Do you know this song?” Steve looked at him, all innocence, nodded and launched into it with all he had. Tommy waited just a heartbeat and jumped in and boy, did they have the rosin flying! This had to be my favourite part of the show; anyone who can play that well is all right with me (and believe me, you should try it sometime and try not to make noises like a cat with it’s tail being stepped on). After this we were given an intermission, we needed it as much as they did after that performance.

“You Are My Sunshine” was a tribute to Jimmy Davis, who had nicknamed his wife ‘Sunshine’. He wrote it for her a few years before she died. A medley of most requested and favourite songs from Tommy’s shows was up next and they seamlessly flowed one to another, ending with Roger Millar’s classic tune “King Of The Road”. To end the show, Tommy wanted to do his traditional reading. He walked to the front of the stage and the curtain closed, leaving just Tommy and the hushed crowd. He took the book and began to tell us about his family, telling some pretty funny stories about his grandchildren and how they give their parents quite a time (much to his amusement). His reading was chosen based on the same type of thing, and it was the popular “No Charge”. As he read, not a sound could be heard and the end was greeted with heartfelt applause, for the choice was about (for those who’d never heard it) a little boy and his presentation to his mother of a bill, for doing chores for the family and around the house. His mother reads it, then turns it over and writes out her own bill, writing ‘no charge’ after each item, (for staying up all night with him when he was sick – no charge) and then handing it back to him. As the little boy read what his mother wrote he hung his head lower and lower, then turned it over at the end and wrote, in big letters, “Paid In Full” over his bill, before wrapping her in a big hug. If you’ve never heard this selection, get ready for the lump in your throat at the end, and go home and give your mom a hug. That is the type of thing that Tommy Hunter stands for, and he really is Canada’s Country Gentleman.

We would like to thank Rocklands Talent for their help with this coverage and the Newmarket Theatre for being so welcoming. It was a pleasure to see you all and we’ll look forward to being in touch again.