TOM freaking Cochrane donates strings!

Tom Cochrane is many things – World Vision ambassador, Juno award winner, Order of Canada recipient – and we’ve followed him on Twitter for awhile now.. Tom was one of our first Comfort Doll participants 11 yrs ago and has always had a soft spot in our hearts. When we asked Tom  if he’d donate his used strings – “of course!” he said.

One day they came in the mail and Tom AND guitarist/slide guitarist extraordinaire Kenny Greer also donated his strings! We have silver. We have gold. We have brass. We have thick, and thin, and copper coloured.. we have strings 🙂  Can’t wait to make some items!

*edit – this is our first bracelet, inspired by Sinking Like a Sunset (and sold..but we can make more, so no worries). Pic of me with Tom about a month after the strings arrived.. after his show in Kelowna. He loved the bracelets (we took one) and what his strings are accomplishing.

tom cochrane sinking like a sunset comfort doll project tom cochrane comfort doll project

Tom Cochrane part 3-New Years Eve

tom cochrane africa 2007 was a weird year – our auctions jumped around a lot partly due to wanting to combine 2 or 3 bands into one auction (and so having to put the photo at hand on hold) and partly due to me recuperating from the chemo the year before… We only did 2 auctions all year which looking back on it, is amazing because it seemed like we did a lot more than this – and we have done so in years since.

We had Tom Cochrane’s photo ‘on hold’ from March 2007 to July 2007 because I found out he was set to play the Nakusp Music Fest and I always go there – so wanted to have him autograph his photo.. which you can read about in Part 2 of Tom’s comfort doll story HERE. But then we didn’t auction his photo off right away. Tom didn’t have a fan club and at the time FB was something that was ‘new’ and I just didn’t have the patience at that point to try and figure it all out. Also, Tom wasn’t on FB or Twitter or anywhere else – except Myspace.. so without access to his fans’ it was difficult to know where to target the auction.

Late November of 2007 I heard that Tom was coming to Vancouver again in December to support his new album, No Stranger (best album he’s ever done I think 🙂 ) He was doing a New Years Eve dinner/dance bash which included an evening of great music and a champagne toast at midnight… we decided to go and I decided to auction his photo before the end of the year along with the photos of Daniel Lanois and Jimmy Eppard. Tom was going to have to help us publicize the auction by posting about it himself on his Myspace page, and this was a good time to have him do that as the New Years Eve date was his last show for some time. (hard to be online helping us when you’re touring and going full tilt!)  The auction went well, and one lady was determined to win the photo – she outbid people until the very last minute – and it was hers! It turned out she lived just across the river from the Venue that Tom was playing at for the New Years Eve bash a week later (for some reason I had thought the majority of his fans would be in Ontario). I suddenly had an idea, and contacted Tom. He readily agreed so I contacted the lady via email and asked if she’d be okay picking her photo up in person and meeting Tom in the process 🙂  She was stunned. Turned out she was a single mom who was a huge Tom Cochrane fan and had never seen him in concert – ever. She was more than happy to wait to pick up her winning photo a week later. I got a message from Tom a few days later – even though he was flying in from Prince George that very day, and doing sound check, and dinner, and needing a rest before the show, he’d try to meet her after the show, and a bonus – he was leaving a ticket to the show in her name at the box office.

The show was fabulous. The venue had removed most of the lower seating and set up tables like an intimate cabaret. We sat at a table with 2 other couples we didn’t  know but soon were chatting. Dinner was buffet style and the show started around 10pm. I met the young lady at the ticket window and made sure she was sorted out, and she went up to her seat in the balcony and I went back to my seat at the table… we agreed to meet after the show. Tom really did a great concert that night – relaxed, fun, laid back but still rocking. His two daughters were on the dance floor with the crowd and at the stroke of midnight, he called his wife out to the stage and they shared a toast to us, the audience, as we all drank a glass of bubbly and popped balloons that came streaming down from a net on the ceiling. He finished up with one more song, and that was it – 2008 and what a way to jump into a new year.

tom cochrane africa The lady and myself were taken down to the green room after a short wait, and I ran into Jonesy (bassist Jeff Jones) who remembered me and gave me a huge smile and big hug. Then into the dimmed lounge where Tom was talking to all sorts of people including Red Robinson (who’s a huge music personality and for who the venue is named after). We waited patiently while Tom talked to his guests. I had Tom’s autographed photo still in my hands – she was so nervous she wanted me to hold on to it. Someone wanted to know who we were and what we were doing there with the guests he knew  (in a very nice way) so it gave me a chance to pull Tom’s comfort doll photo out and show it to the fellow and tell him about it. I was also able to overhear someone else’s conversation about how many times Tom had been to Africa – at that time I think it was 8 times! I was stunned – I knew he’d been, but had no idea it was more than once. I could hear little pockets of conversation about this, and then Tom looked up, saw us and smiled, and the lady was suddenly being hugged gently by Tom who was very soft spoken and put her at ease right away. It was so neat for me to hang back and just watch all this unfold – to soak it up and to appreciate the fact that Tom was so adamant about giving back, of supporting World Vision and kids in Africa, that he’d jump in to help our project as we in turn supported World Vision. I have and always will have a soft spot in my heart for Tom and ‘his people’.

Tom Cochrane part 2 – Nakusp

If you haven’t read Part 1 of Tom Cochrane, Go here first.

So, we had Tom’s comfort doll photo, and we needed another photo for the same auction – Jimmy Eppard participated and while I was working with Jimmy, I found out that Tom Cochrane was going to perform at the Nakusp Music Fest – he was the headliner for the closing night. We go to the Nakusp Music Fest each year, so I suddenly had a ‘plan’. What if I convinced Tom to meet up with me again and autograph the photo of himself? I figured an autographed photo would go for much more in auction. I also found out that Collective Soul was set to perform that same night, RIGHT BEFORE Tom! I desperately tried to find contact info for them or their management but couldn’t find anything online or elsewhere…. but that’s another story 😉

I didn’t find out about Tom being headliner for the music fest until it was too late to send him a message at Myspace – so I simply took the 8×10 glossy pic I had, bundled it up good and secure (so it wouldn’t get bent out of shape) and made sure I had a good new sharpie, and off we went to the music fest and camping holiday. I figured if it worked, it worked, and if not, so be it. I also figured I’d be able to find a ‘backstage door’ as I had with Steve Gorman from the Black Crowes (our first photo!). I also took my small photo album that I had started – 4×6 photos of the band’s we’d worked with so far. Spur of the moment decision but it paid off big in the end.

Once at Nakusp it was Music Fest all weekend and I could hardly wait for Sunday night! There had been one band the night before who tried to sign autographs with fans over the fencing up front, but who were ‘moved along’ by security and their own people as they were on a time schedule to catch the ferry (the only way into Nakusp from both directions is by ferry’s). Some bands signed autographs in the media tent, but mostly the afternoon acts – night time acts were anxious to leave town in decent time and be on the road for their next show. Figuring it was an exercise in futility, I went to the ‘back stage’ area only to have my suspicions confirmed… all buses and vans etc were well behind security fencing with a security guard at the entrance. No chance. But just then, Jonesy (Tom’s bass player Jeff Jones) walked past. I told the guard I needed to speak to him, and amazingly enough, the guard called him over (I had forgotten his name (blushes) or I would have called to him myself). Jeff came over and smiled as soon as he saw me – remembering the doll from last time. He asked how I was, I told him what I was hoping to accomplish and pulled the small 4×6 photo of Tom and his comfort doll out of my camera bag (note to self, always bring a notepad lol) and I wrote on the back -asking Tom if he had time, would he sign an 8×10 version of this same photo for the auction – then put my cell phone number on it and gave it to Jeff Jones. He promised he’d put it in Tom’s dressing room mirror and that was that.

The show was amazing! Tom was strong voiced, and full of spunk and energy – I had never seen him in concert before, so it was an amazing experience for me. I somehow ended right up front, right on the rail (most people stay seated in their lawn chairs further back at this festival) and I took many photos of the band with my new digital 🙂 At one point Tom climbed the side rigging to sing to the audience, and Jonesy found me in the audience, and smiled all night at me and the people I was with. Tom saw me near the end of the show, made sure my hand was one of the multitude he shook as he walked along the stage edge, and then the show was over – by the very last song Tom and the band were literally covered in white moths who were attracted by the stage lights.. it was a pretty incredible sight actually.

About an hour after the concert had ended, just as I was walking back to where we were camped for the weekend, (about to give up hope and accept that it wasn’t going to be,) I got a phone call. Be at the security gate in 10 minutes. I was elated, so hoofed it back and was met by security who had my small 4×6 photo in hand, and gave it back to me. It was autographed by Tom on the front side. I must have looked completely crushed, because he asked me what was wrong. I explained to him that the smaller photo was simply a note to Tom asking for the larger photo to be signed, and then showed him the larger one. My eternal gratitude – he radioed to someone inside and talked to them out of my hearing, told me to wait a bit, and then he let me in and I was told to go down some stairs to the green room, and someone would meet me. The ‘green room’ was in the Nakusp hockey rink. As I was escorted down to the hockey dressing room I ran into Jeff Jones who gave me a super hug, and I showed him the glossy 8×10. He loved it. He walked me in to where Tom was waiting…. Tom had a few other young people there already waiting to see him. One fellow was blind and I watched Tom with him – his attention was on this one young man completely -there was literally nobody else in the room. They had a photo taken together, and there was a young couple who were next. Again Tom spent a fair bit of time with them, treating them as equals rather than ‘fan’ and ‘superstar’. I watched again, and the young man did an amazing magic trick – had us all in stitches. Then it was my turn 🙂

I showed Tom the photo – he loved it, but he was going to personalize it! When I asked him to just sign it without my name on it, he seemed surprised, so I explained what I had in mind and he was good with it. We spoke for some time but I could see he was absolutely wiped out but being polite, so I thanked him and bid him good night and that was that! Our photo was autographed, and we were ready for our auction.

You can view results of this auction (Tom Cochrane, Daniel Lanois and Jimmy Eppard) by clicking on ‘Auctions’ Tab above – we raised a staggering $500 dollars for World Vision! And no.. that’s not the end of the story with Tom Cochrane. Part 3 HERE 🙂

Tom Cochrane part 1

tom cochrane comfort doll project

Tom Cochrane

By February 2007 we started to look for our next batch of Comfort Doll Project participants. I spent more time on Myspace and found more musicians and bands but none ‘jumped out’ at me…. until I landed on Tom Cochrane’s page one day. I can say this because I’ve said it to Tom and he knows 🙂 –  I didn’t like his music very much back in his heyday of Red Rider. It was too hard edged for me, and I couldn’t seem to identify with Tom or his music on a personal level; I was much more into U2 and other acts at the time.

So when I stumbled upon his page, and listened to his Myspace music player, I didn’t hear White Hot, or Boy Inside the Man, or any of the older radio hits; I heard White Horse, The Party’s Not Over (which speaks of being in Mozambique) and Northern Star and I had a hard time believing it was Tom Cochrane. Instead of a young guy with floppy bangs and a frown, I found a mature silver haired, smiling, softer person that I was instantly drawn to. I loved the new music – much more personal (I thought), softer, more introspective and emotional than the songs I remembered way back when. On a whim I sent him a message via Myspace outlining what our charity was and how we did things – I suggested that as he was coming to Vancouver in a month, if he was interested, we could set up an in-person photo op. I sent the message off, not expecting to get anything back and then went to Google to find out what he’d been up to for all the years I’d not paid attention. I was stunned actually. I found pics of him from World Vision’s website – he’d been to Africa – Kenya and Mozambique – and there were photos of him playing soccer with the children in one of the villages. He supported the Canadian Make Poverty History campaign; had a spot in their commercial/ad wearing a white band on his wrist. There was so much I found out about this Canadian legend that I didn’t know, and I began to realize how I had unfairly judged him for all those years.

A few short hours later, I had a personal message back from Tom – lets do it. Short, to the point and wonderful 🙂  So I sent another message with particulars and we messaged back and forth a few times, sorting out details (always there are details – I can never ‘just’ walk into a venue to do a photo op) and then the day came for me to meet Tom in person. Was I nervous? Actually, truthfully? No. I was more concerned about taking a crappy photo of him (I was using a 35mm film camera at the time and only on ‘auto’) than I was about meeting multi Juno Award winner Tom Cochrane. I think because he had corresponded with me himself rather than through a PR or Mgt person, and because he seemed to be a ‘straight from the hip’ sort of person, I wasn’t nervous about meeting him.

The day of the photo, it was miserable and rainy; a typical March day in Vancouver – and when I arrived at the venue, the staff weren’t sure about what I was asking, but I gave the info they needed, they called to Tom’s tour manager and out he came, and said yes, come in, and that was that. He told me that Tom was in an interview for a TV spot, then radio, then had sound check to do and would be with me after all that was finished. (busy schedule! and they still fit me in!) I’m good with waiting – but this experience was unbelievably cool… I was invited to have a seat in the venue ‘anywhere I wanted’ while waiting. I was told to help myself to muffins and juice set out for the road crew/techs up on the stage, and when I said ‘thank you’ and didn’t move to get one, I was told again, ‘help yourself; make yourself at home’. So I did 😉 The road crew all smiled at me and I returned to the best seat in the house to wait, and to visually check for the best spot for lighting. Film camera and an amateur photographer (at the time) remember?

Tom and the band came out on stage and started doing sound check. Only this was more than any sound check I’ve ever sat through – before or since. The band ran through each song they were going to perform that night – not just a few bars, but nearly half the song.. tweaking things here and there, making sure the sound was excellent in all areas of the venue. Tom’s bass player, Jeff Jones (Jonesy), saw me sitting there 3 rows up, dead center, and started smiling at me as he played, and I couldn’t help but tap my hands to the beat – and by the end of the sound check we were grinning at each other like old friends! He came over to talk to me and wanted to know what was up, so I showed him the Comfort Doll ready for Tom’s photo and explained our project and he thought it was great.

Jonesy left and Tom came over, introduced himself to me (that made me smile) and when I introduced myself back, he seemed startled – explaining that he thought I was my partner.. and then in a shocked voice said – you cut your hair! (I had long hair in my Myspace photo but after the chemo treatments it was just starting to grow back and was about 4 inches long all over). I was as stunned as he, and blurted out – no it was the chemo. That seemed to break the ice for both of us and he asked me some questions about treatment and wanted to know how I was (in truth, very tired, but very glad to be there). He asked me where we wanted to take the photos, and I told him as much light as possible was what I needed, so we did a few photos right there. Then surprisingly he suggested going out to the lobby of the venue and doing some there as well. We went out and I did 4 more photos, aware of how valuable his time was and not wanting to delay him from other things; but he suggested more photos on the stage with the lights on, so off we went for more.

All told, I did about 10 photos with Tom (without a digital, of course there is no way to know what you have until you develop the film). I was so impressed with Tom’s generosity of his time and his patience of me doing the photos slower than a pro would, of course. He and I had some conversation about his Make Poverty History support, and about World Vision. He’s supported them 110% ever since he and his wife Kathy sponsored a child, and World Vision contacted him to end that support when his sponsor child no longer needed it – he was so impressed with not being ‘duped’ into still paying, that he sponsored another child immediately. He’s also been to a World Vision sponsored village unannounced, on a fact finding mission, and again was so impressed that he’s thrown himself into helping them whenever he can – in big ways that most people have no idea about…. I was impressed too, with him. He’s the epitome of charitable giving; of being behind the scenes not drawing attention to it. Just doing it.

I finished the photos and thanked him for his time, told him I’d contact him about the auction (about him helping us promo it somewhat on his Myspace as he didn’t have a fan club at that time) and I thought like all bands before him, that was it. I was mistaken 🙂

Part 2 of Tom Cochrane is further along in our blog!