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Slo' Tom eases back into mix

New songs in store as Furnaceface bassist returns to stage

By ALLAN WIGNEY -- Ottawa Sun

What would Ottawa's music scene be without Tom Stewart?

If he has his way, we'll never know. But for a while, the Furnaceface bassist who doubles as honky-tonk guitar-slinger Slo' Tom was missing in action. And loving it.

"It's the first time I've taken a break in 16 or 17 years," Stewart says. "I probably could have gone back to performing a year ago, but I was too into it. It's kinda nice to not always have shows looming over your head."

Health issues led to Stewart's hiatus, but a fondness for his new-found low profile kept it going.

As a result, he says, he has 30 new songs in varying states of readiness. And Slo' Tom has decided he is finally in a proper state of readiness himself.


"About a third of the show will be new songs," Stewart says. "But of course, there'll also be the classics like Liquor's My Lover. I think I'd get killed if we didn't do that one."

Stewart's return has been cleverly arranged to maintain a semblance of low-key attitude. He has deliberately placed himself third on an impressive bill that includes Jim Bryson and his Occasionals, plus the rollicking Fiftymen.

It's an evening of superior local country and rock, labeled the First Annual Rock 'n' Roll Rodeo.

But if Stewart has placed himself in a humbling slot on the bill, noting neither Bryson nor Fiftymen have played a "big show" in Ottawa for a while, he is also quick to ask, "Have you talked to Bryson about the show, or are you just concentrating on the real star?"

Once again, Stewart knows best.


As for the future of veteran band Furnaceface, Stewart claims new songs have been written and there are tentative plans to re-enter the studio.

We may even see a semi-permanent replacement for founding member Pat Banister, whose busy schedule on Canada's left coast has made Furnaceface appearances, and practices, rare in recent years. There is still no rush, however.

"I can see Furnaceface entering the studio before Slo' Tom, but a Slo' Tom record coming out first," Stewart predicts. "There's just limited time for us to work together as Furnaceface."

Either way, the best place to hear new material from Stewart is onstage at Barrymore's this Saturday.

Slo' Tom will be joined for his set by Furnaceface bandmate Dave Dudley on drums, Geoff Taylor on bass and Graham Collins on piano. Pedal-steel master Tom Thompson will be playing throughout the set as one of the evening's many special guests.

Duets and guest musicians galore are hinted-at by Stewart, ever the slick salesman.

"Oh yeah," Stewart says. "In fact, there are so many special guests, the guy writing this article is one of them!"

Duly noted.

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Originally posted by Phred:


Originally posted by h:

... and Graham Collins on piano.

I know that guy. Nice guy, good player. Works at Songbird.

Speaking of Songbird, is anybody (else) planning on hitting the anniversary party at Babylon on Monday? It's free, but I don't know what's planned.



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