New Brunswick Spirit, Volume 1 - Stevedore Steve Productions RDRCD-1757 - 1995
Liner Notes

Executive Producer: David Cole
Produced by Gary Chase
Liner Notes: Gerry Taylor
Photos: Un-named
Recorded at EPCOM Studios, Rothsay, New Brunswick
Consultants: Gary Chase, Mike Boyer & Jim Stewart

Stevedore Steve: Flat Top & vocals
Paul Du John: Flat Top & harmony
Paul Nagle: Harmonica
Mike Boyer: Harmonica
Carl Elliot: Fiddle
Mike Elliot: Bass
Bill Elliot: Electric Guitar

Iron Horse
The Ballad of Marie LaTour
Preacher Man
Down, Down, Down
#9 Cast Iron Fryin' Pan
Blackville Belle
The H. & S.M. Line (Old Molly)
Irish Tears on Partridge Island
Lumberjack of the Miramichi
The Legend of the Falls
Old Joe
My St. John Valley Home
Harley Steel
By-Gone Days

Hi folks - Just a word of sincere thanks for buying my very first CD. These newly written songs reflect our beautiful province and its living history.

Over the past fifteen years, I've composed several hundred songs. Many about the wonders found in my home province. Powerful ballads like Iron Horse. Soft, gentle melodies about the Saint John River and real New Brunswick people. It's all here in two CDs* or tapes. Also featured, of special historic significance, Irish Tears on Partridge Island and The Ballad of Marie LaTour. This is my salute to the spirit of New Brunswickers and our unique heritage.

Special thanks to:

The Elliot Family of Nova Scotia, Paul DuJohn, Paul Nagle, Gerry Taylor, Dave Cole, Bob Johnson. Gary Chase, Mike Boyer, Jim Stewart of EPCOM Studios.

Stevedore Steve

You could turn on a radio anytime of the day or night and hear songs like Salamander Tug, Kingston Chain, Minto Miners, Cat Tracks on the Mountain ... back in the 1970s.

Well, they were all songs from the pen of Stevedore Steve Foote - and they all made it on the Canadian country hit charts along with his number one best seller Lester The Lobster. Just ask any grade sixer in New Brunswick... Lester's in their school readers.

Lester was even included in the Reader's Digest Great One Hundred Favourite Children's Songs of All Time.

That's an honour accorded very few living song-scribes. Steve's short commercial recording career has had a far-reaching influence on Canadian culture. The Steve Fruitman column in the Mariposa bi-monthly newsletter out of Toronto, entitled Son of the Stevedore, is a tribute to the influence of Steve's weekly TV show.

STeve was as much a recording legend as his buddy of many years, Stompin' Tom Connors. Connors and Foote made permanent song statements for Canadian working people during a time of labour unrest in the late-sixties and seventies. The fact that they did it well and were both from Saint John, New Brunswick although extraordinary, is coincidental.

They never compromised their songwriting or point of view, even during their commercial careers. They wrote and sang of things they believed in, in styles individually natural to them.

By the time he was 18, Steve Foote had made several trips across Canada working as a lumberjack, potato and tobacco picker, seaman and, of course, stevedore. Returning home when he was 21, Steve began writing as a hobby. His pen churned out children's songs, humorous songs, but mostly real slices of life, anthems to the working man with which he was most familiar.

With the travel itch still in his soul and feet, Steve did not remain long in Saint John. This time in his travels he started making his music pay the way instead of finding temporary labour. He had begun entertaining in clubs around home while developing his guitar technique. Now he found taverns on the Ontario circuit willing to become venues for his quickly maturing talents.

In the late-sixties, Tom Connors began recording for prestigious Dominion Records in Toronto after a debut album on Rebel. Tom introduced Steve to the youthful guiding head of the label at the time, Jury Krytiuk, and a deal for his first album, Song of the Stevedore, was struck. It was distributed coast-to-coast by London Records and the impact was immediate; the deejays loved it. Almost overnight the name Stevedore Steve was a by-word with Canadian music fans.

When Krytiuk and Connors formed a partnership to acquire Dominion's assets and launch their own Boot label, Steve was the first name on their roster. Two more albums came next, along with more than a dozen singles. TV and cross-Canada appearances followed.

Although he was appreciated, especially in the Maritimes, and honoured with plaques, scrolls, and honorary citizenships, it only took a single tax assessment mistake to end Steve's commercial recording career.

Steve quit Boot Records and, with his Ontario-born wife Gini, returned to Saint John determined to pay off his debt by honest sweat. A van seizure by a financial institution lost him his publicity material, stage wardrobe, scrapbooks, and record sales stock. Later that same year, he had to sell his guitar to 'keep life and limb together'.

The fact that income tax then decided to advise him their billing had been a computer error and returned the few hundred he had managed to pay only served to disillusion him more.

The winds of ill-chance had not ceased to blow. While working on a church steeple in Saint John's north end, Steve threw out his back, damaging several vertebrae. His life as a working man was suddenly over.

He and Gini did a stint as retail personnel in the City Market and have subsisted since on meagre resources derived from light carpentry and painting, often reduced to one meal a day. Through it all, Gini has been constantly supportive.

Steve is still writing first class songs that he feared until recently would never be recorded. As suddenly as the ill-winds had come in the mid-seventies, the weathervane of his life took an abrupt turn in the late-eighties.

"A miracle started it all," Steve told me in 1988. "I answered the door one night and a fellow I had never seen before was there with a guitar I had sold a dozen years before, the old dreadnought I had used in all my recording sessions. He said he had bought it for a pittance from a guy who was down on his luck; the fellow bragged it had once belonged to Stevedore Steve. He had asked around and found out where I lived. It was like an omen. Suddenly, I began writing songs again!"

An appearance on Up Home Tonight happened, many concerts and personal appearances followed, then induction into the New Brunswick Country Music Hall of Fame and commissions to write themes for various special events. yet in spite of efforts to market his songs, no recording deal came Steve's way.

In 1994, Steve decided to try on his own. He recorded an album of ten songs on a small tape recorder set up in his own home. All were about the Miramichi and composed over the seven years since the return of his guitar. He did the jacket art himself and had several hundred tapes run off by a copy house. Susan Butler, director of the Miramichi Folk Song Festival, was so impressed that she immediately retained him to perform at both the 1994 and 1995 Festivals.

In mid-1995, Steve launched the second such tape entitled To The Working Man, ten work-related songs chosen from well over 400 written in the past seven years.

The wind, by the way, has continued to turn in his favour since a chance meeting with Dave Cole, an entrepreneur willing to invest in Steve's future. Mr. Cole is backing Steve on this CD project, recorded at Epcom Studios in the Saint John area. In explaining why, Cole replied, "I want Canadians, especially New Brunswickers, to hear these unreleased music masterpieces."

Steve recently exclaimed, "If we can catch the public ear and get airtime on major country stations then maybe our dream can come true. I would be satisfied to just keep writing and recording songs on this level. If I could just make enough for a little place in the country ... a small farmhouse for Gini and me ... a little woodland, a stream and some good soil for a garden. Man, would I be happy!"

Steve, by the way, is a man of many talents. He is an accomplished artist and cartoonist as well. He designed the trademark emblem for Boot Records, wrote and illustrated a book on the life of Tom Connors and drew illustrations for several albums, notable the classic Tales of the Donnelly Feud, composed and sung by Earl Heywood, one of the most distinctive packagings in Canadian recording history.

This is the Stevedore Steve story to date. Keep in touch ... there is lots more to come. Great new recordings are planned and some surprises ... even a cookbook!

Gerry Taylor
"Patron Saint of Country Music"

Return to the Story