Hurricane Mike Thompson
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Hurricane Mike Thompson


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The best kept secret in music


"TORONTO SUN ARTICLE on "Flags Of Freedom""

August 6, 2006

Hurricane Mike Thompson gives us all cause to pause with his new ballad about a soldier fighting in Afghanistan
By Mark Bonokoski

"What a hard place for opinion, what a hard place for religion

"And what a hard place for a soldier in these lands

"Where no flags of freedom stand."

-- Flags of Freedom

As you read this today, wave upon wave of young Canadian soldiers continue to board troop carriers for deployment to the danger zone of Afghanistan, a land where no flags of freedom yet truly stand because the Taliban has other plans.

It began at July's end and, up until the middle of this month, every second day will see 150 fresh troops board one of those human cargo planes until the total reaches 2,000 -- with 1,600 of those soldiers coming out of CFB Petawawa, the base that forms the heart of a small military town not far from Ottawa.

These are the replacements for those already in far-off Afghanistan -- those who have done their bit, who have risked their lives, and who have earned their keep.

Some of them, of course, are already home. It's just that they didn't come home alive.

If there were ever an anthem written for the Canadian soldier in Afghanistan -- no longer a peacekeeper, but a firefighting peacemaker -- it is a ballad written by Hurricane Mike Thompson, a truck driver from Tottenham, just north of Toronto, who writes and performs the kind of songs that should give us all cause to pause.

Flags of Freedom is one of those songs.

It comes at a time when one of Canada's favourite sons of protest, Neil Young, has released a song by the same name, as a track on an album called Living With War.

But the lyrics, and the tune, do not compare.

Neil Young wants to impeach a president.

Neil Young is angry.

But not so Hurricane Mike Thompson.

Instead of writing about the wrongness of the war in Iraq as Neil Young does, Hurricane Mike Thompson writes of a young soldier writing home to his mother and father from the war zone of Afghanistan.

"Well, I sure miss you all and love you, but I'm 22, and I've become a man," he sings. "I just hope you'll think of me where there's peace and liberty.

"In that place I'd rather be, the true north strong and free.

"A land ... where the flags of freedom stand."

Those with computer savvy (and the necessary software) can hear Hurricane's four-minute ballad to our soldiers by going to

On Tuesday, if all goes according to plan, Hurricane Mike Thompson's Flags of Freedom will be featured on former Toronto police union boss Craig Bromell's newly-fitted radio show which goes live from 10 a.m. until noon on Toronto's AM640.

The Thompson segment, with me as Bromell's guest, is slated for approximately 11 a.m.

Those reading this in Ottawa, where Corus has no affiliate, can tune to Rob Snow's show on 580 CFRA tomorrow between 6 a.m. and 9 a.m.

Hurricane Mike Thompson, married and father of one, still puts bread on the table today by hauling truck for Norus Packaging, a corrugated paper producer in the village of Tottenham.

He has covered a great many miles on his road to discovery, and has had brushes with greatness, having jammed with Jeff Healey and other notables since he first took to various rough-and-tumble stages back in the '70s.

We met for the first time three years ago, when the impending winter wind was about to turn Toronto into a deep freeze, and city politicians -- again -- were talking of the perils that would soon face the homeless as they tried to tug at every heartstring in order to get elected.

Hurricane Mike Thompson, as it happened, had just recorded a song called Colder Days and, if there was ever a ballad for the plight of the homeless, this was it -- a country-style song that begins with the plaintive wail of the harmonica, followed by lyrics as chilling as those colder days ahead.

It was November. The municipal election had just ended. David Miller was the new mayor, and one of the election planks he used in his campaign was a promise of an additional 2,000 affordable housing units a year.

It was a song, in fact, which longtime friend and sound technician Tim Lentz believed should have launched a career which should have been launched years ago if the record industry wasn't so fickle and so myopic, and if the music industry wasn't so enthralled with the hype surrounding brain-dead reality shows like Canadian Idol.

"Hurricane Mike Thompson is one of the most talented, sensitive musicians I know," said Lentz.

"I have rubbed shoulders with the very best, and Hurricane never fails to impress me with his talent, his words, and his deeds," he added. "He is always there with a song or his instrument to lend support to any cause, or any musician who needs it."

We all know what happened when our politicians set out to deal with the homeless. We got a $90,000 street count, estimating that 818 people wer - THE TORONTO SUN

""COLDER DAYS" news article"

November 21, 2003
Toronto’s homeless inspired poignant song
“Here it is November, and there’s colder days ahead.” From a song by Hurricane Mike Thompson

If there was ever a ballad for the plight of the homeless, then this is it—a country-style song that begins with the plaintive wail of the harmonica, followed by lyrics as chilling as those colder days ahead.

November, of course, has but one week left to run. The municipal election is over. David Miller is the new mayor, and the election plank built from the cardboard boxes of the street people will provide no immediate shelter.

During the election campaign, Miller was calling for an additional 2,000 affordable housing units a year, but never said where the money would come from.

The homeless seem to come from nowhere. Maybe the money will, too.

Cue the tape, listen to the words of Hurricane Mike Thompson, and picture the down-and-outer you pass every day “eating sidewalk sausage some lawyer tossed away.”

The imagery is as bleak as winter itself.

Hurricane Mike Thompson, married, and father of one, has covered a great many miles trying to get discovered. He’s had brushes with greatness, of course, having jammed with Jeff Healey and other notables since he took to various rough-and-tumble stages back in the ‘70s.

Years ago, the late Toronto Sun legend, Paul Rimstead, dragged a drunken friend he introduced as Lenny to one of Thompson’s gigs and, after the final set was over, they headed to Sai Woo’s in Thompson’s Volkswagen Beetle, only to have one of the planet’s most legendary guitarists throw up in his back seat.

Yes, the Lenny who Paul Rimstead was hauling around town was none other than Lenny Breau.

Today Hurricane Mike Thompson puts bread on the family table by hauling truck for Norus Packaging, a corrugated paper producer in the village of Tottenham.

We met there the other day, and played his Colder Days on the CD while heading back into the city.
It’s a good song.

It’s a song, in fact, which longtime friend and sound technician Tim Lentz believes could launch a career which should have been launched years ago if the record industry wasn’t so fickle and so myopic.

”Hurricane Mike Thompson is one of the most talented, sensitive musicians I know,” said Lentz.

”Through a little side company of mine, Northern Echo Enterprises, I do sound support and recordings for groups and individuals around the GTA.

”I have rubbed shoulders with the very best, and Hurricane never fails to impress me with his talent, his words, and his deeds,” said Lentz. “He is always there with a song or his instrument to lend support to any cause, or any musician who needs it.”

As with all writers, and especially with writers whose songs tell stories, inspiration comes from observation.

For Thompson, the words for Colder Days were seeded in his brain years ago when he was a tour guide in Toronto, hauling tourists around on buses and pointing out the sites and sights along the way. And those included sights along the wayside.

”I was never homeless to the point that I was destitute,” said Thompson. “But I’ve seen enough along the way to enable me to relate. And there is passion in the music.”

Years ago, Sun night desk editor Jim Baine, who then owned and operated Country magazine, mentioned he’d met a tremendous talent down in Nashville at a country showcase featuring a singer by the name of Billy Ray Cyrus who he believed would be a future superstar.

Before you could say Achy Breaky Heart, former Sun publisher and editor Les Pyette was sending reporter Joe Warmington to Virginia to check Cyrus out—making The Sun the first daily paper to cover the rise of a talent who chased his dreams by playing in bars for 11 years before breaking out with the album, Some Gave All.

At Pyette’s retirement party last year, Cyrus made a guest appearance and credited The Sun with helping to jump-start his stardom.

Perhaps the same can happen with Hurricane Mike Thompson, and his title song, Colder Days.

Perhaps New Country 95.3 FM will call and want to air his tune as November closes, and with colder days ahead.

Better still, perhaps New Country could send one of its scouts up to Oprey Orillia—spelled that way so as to not upset Nashville—and catch his act tomorrow night as he jams away at the Sundial Travelodge Hotel.

And then ask him to sing Colder Days. - THE TORONTO SUN


My discography is somewhat scattered but certainly does exist:

I started out with my first recording experiences being writing and cutting Public Service Announcements about seatbelts; driving impaired; child road safety; and dental hygiene. That continued into writing sales convention musical themes and scripts for industry; short film documentaries; along with local radio spots for car dealerships and furniture wholesalers. But I made a few records too!

"Mister Longface"/ bw "Loading Dock" Periwinkle Records.

"Hold Me Closer To Your Heart"/ bw" Two Good Reasons" Tryemo Records.

"Charlie Played The Fiddle" on album "Live At The Richmond Inn", Ambassador Records.

"Cars And Corsages" on album "Live At The Richmond Inn" ( This album was a "Live" compilation featuring fellow artists, Magoo; Joe Wood; Carl Nixon; Michael MacDonald and myself.) Ambassador Records.

"Voices From Other Rooms" independent album of classic acoustic blues covers and originals, Northern Echo Records.

"Dobro Pickin'", country classic standards. Condor Records.

"A Dobro Christmas", album of Christmas favourites. Condor Records.

"Colder Days", Northern Echo Records.

"Flags Of Freedom", Northern Echo Records.
( Both releases were produced by Wendell Ferguson).

I've also appeared as studio session player, ( mostly on harmonica but occasionally as a steeler and dobroist(R),...), on a list of works by other artists; approximately 80 vinyl cuts and 66 CDs and tapes. Many of those artists are independent and obscure.


Feeling a bit camera shy


"Hurricane" Mike Thompson has been playing music and writing songs for over thirty years. His committment to family life and career have somewhat "back-burnered" what otherwise might have been a thriving musical career.

He has written jingles and themes for radio and television in the form of Public Service announcements and documentary scores. He has also penned material for community campaigns and industrial conventions.

He has opened for renowned artists such as, Shirley Eikhard, Patricia Conroy, and Sawyer Brown, along with a host of many lesser-known but talented high-level acts. He has also shared stages with many notables, Vern Gosdin, for one; he even got to record with Hellen Reddy!

He's jammed with David Bromberg, Saul Broudie and Jerry Jeff Walker in the early part of his career.

A big moment came when bluesman, Doctor Isaiah Ross asked to borrow Mike's equipment at a Mariposa Folk Festival then ended up inviting Mike onto his workshop stage to join him, Johnny Shines, Larry Johnson and John Jackson, all pivotal blues artists in their own right.

"It was an incredible thrill to be part of something so seminal to our music." Mike says of the experience," Johnny Shines was as close as I would ever get to the legendary late Robert Johnson. He was "little Robert's" closest friend back in the thirties." Doctor Ross wrote "Cat's Squirrel" and "Hobo Blues", both now blues and rock standards.

"Hurricane" Mike Thompson's musical abilities and showmanship have garnered him recognition in the form of several awards:

In 2000, "Hurricane" Mike was awarded the "Uncle Buddy" plaque for his talent as "steel-player". "Uncle Buddy" is regarded as the "Uncle" of Canadian country music; one of the pioneers.

In 2002, "Hurricane" was nominated ,"Entertainer Of The Year" and received a trophy from "Oprey Orillia", a central Ontario country music jamboree. ( The misspelling of "Opry" was deliberate as to not incur legalities with WSM.).

Much to his surprise, "Hurricane" was presented with another award that year from NOTA Music Conference in Barrie, Ontario, for the same honour.

In 2006, while a member of Nashville Songwriters Association International, one of his entries, "Only Tears", won a prize and honorable mention.

"I try to write about many subjects.", Mike Thompson explains, "Mostly, I ask my songs to tell stories and paint pictures for my listener. I tend to describe the perils of life and emotions we all face via our interactions with our world and each other. Often, my songs carry a political edge, reflecting social conscience.

I'm very moved by the "homeless" situation that has gripped our land. I try to support "homeless" fundraiser causes; donate to shelters and drop off essentials (gifts) that help keep people warm and dry, when I can.

Also, I have this bad habit of being an easy touch for panhandlers on our streets. Because, there but for the grace of God, go I! Maybe my songs will help out somehow."

Mike's songs cover similar territory as the blues but they're "of my own voice and perspective done my own way.", he says.

"My emphasis is more on lyrics than on music. If it was the other way around, I probably couldn't paint as much of a picture. ".

When asked about what moves him, the "Hurricane "replied, "I like soulful stuff: reso-phonic guitars and tasty steel-licks. When I'm just by myself, I rely heavily on my harp and my fingerstyle guitar with occasional slide licks. As a "sidey", I drag out my arsenal of instruments to support the artist I'm backing."

"Hurricane's" songs are movies for the mind:

"Many of my songs are about the homeless: " Colder Days", for instance, was featured in The Toronto Sun by columnist Mark Bonokoski.

Also in this EPK are the lyrics to "Stayin' At The Old Imperial Tonight.", a tune about life as a "bag-lady" on the streets. I don't have a dub of it yet, but it's a hit at all my shows and folks tend to join in on the chorus."

Bonokoski has penned a few stories on Mike Thompson's work: He also wrote an article about "Flags Of Freedom" a song Mike created about our Canadian troops fighting in Afghanistan as seen from a young soldier's perspective.

That media connection culminated in Mike's being asked to take part in a huge (3500 people) Canadian troop support rally in Dundas Square,Toronto, along side notables: Mayor David Miller; the Police Chief Wm. Blair; Gordon Lightfoot; many political and military figures along with those parents of the fallen.

"My musical influences are good songsmiths: John Prine; Guy Clark; Rodney Crowell; Bob Dylan; Fred Eaglesmith; Murray Mc Lauchlan; Kris Kristofferson; Steve Earle; and Newfoundland's Roy Payne.", Mike offers.

"I'm on Roy's last album as a dobro(R)-player and harpman. Yet, I'm influenced by the news as much as the blues.", Hurricane explains.

"Redneck Woman", a Gretchen Wilson tribute five-piece band where I was the steel-guitarist/ harp-pla