Taw Connors always wanted to go on tour with his dad, the late Canadian musical legend Stompin' Tom Connors.
Although he's worked many jobs in his life, including as a truck driver and in a sawmill, Taw also has a musical bent, and writes his own songs.
Born in Timmins, Taw didn't see much of his dad growing up, as his parents separated early on. But the father and son always kept in contact, often meeting up at shows.
He almost went on tour with Stompin' Tom the year before his father's death in 2013 at age 77. Taw was planning to become part of his support crew to get a flavour of the touring life, but his daughter became seriously ill, and he couldn't join the tour.
While he won't get to realize that dream, Taw, who now lives in Greenstone, Ont., started touring the country himself in 2016 and singing his father's famous tunes, as well as some of his own music.
“One of the things my father told me early is when you do this, you have to be 150 per cent in,” Taw said, speaking to Sudbury.com to promote a July 29 show he's playing at Theatre Cambrian.
Taw said he's the only one of his father's kids who inherited his vocal traits. His father's old friends often remark on the uncanny similarity.
Before deciding to tour, Taw said he looked for a sign he should do this. He found it in an encounter with a man with dementia he met while performing Stompin' Tom tunes at a long-term care home in Greenstone.
“This fella walked up to the stage at the end of the show and shook my hand, smiling from ear to ear,” he said. “I had goosebumps running up one side and down the other. He thought I was my father.
“I said to myself 'If this ain't a sign of some kind not only to bring memories to a fellow like him, but to the rest of Canadians' … This is the power that singing about your country and people has on people.”
Taw said he loves the bronze statue of his father erected in front of the Sudbury Arena — he's visited it several times.
He said he wants to thank everyone who donated money to cover the statue's costs, and gives a special “hell yeah” to Sudbury sculptor Tyler Fauvelle for creating it.
“I'm sure my father is up there thinking about it right now,” he said. “Sudbury was close to my father's heart — one of his stomping grounds.”
As for the upcoming Sudbury show, being held, appropriately, on a Sudbury Saturday Night, Taw said he sings 36 songs, 33 of them his father's hits. He said he loves playing his dad's tunes, and often has a hard time not cracking up at the funny ones.
In between songs, Taw shares stories about his dad's life.
The July 29 show, part of Theatre Cambrian's Sounds of Summer Music Festival, takes place starting at 7 p.m. at Theatre Cambrian's Eyre Street location.
Tickets are $20, and are available through Theatre Cambrian's box office. Visit www.theatrecambrian.ca.
The Sounds of Summer Music Festival also includes a fundraiser for Theatre Cambrian taking place from 1 to 10:30 p.m. July 28 — the theatre company has been experiencing some financial difficulties lately.
That event, which takes place in Memorial Park, features performances by local acts. The headliner is Larry Berrio.
If you'd like to donate to Theatre Cambrian, visit its GoFundMe page.