Thursday, February 06, 2014

March 20th - "And Tell Laura I Love Her: Stories and Songs of the Early 1960s"

While the June 2014 Iliad is very much on my mind, there is a very different show on the horizon, approaching much faster.  On March 20th, as part of the Ottawa Storytellers' series at the NAC 4th Stage, Gail Anglin and I will join forces with a gutsy rock'n'roll band (Last Band Standing) to present a light-hearted show with stories about being a teenager in that golden age, the first half of the 1960s. 

"Who did put the bop in the bop-shoo-bop-shoo-bop? And why must I be a teenager in love? As the 1960s began, and the first great tidal wave of boomers crashed into adolescence, these and other life-and-death questions were uppermost in their minds and their music."

As in every period, there was plenty of scary stuff going on in the wider world, from the Cuban Missile Crisis to race riots in Mississippi and the assassination of JFK; but for this evening we're steering towards the lighter side, the way most of the pop music of the day did.  Welcome back to a time when boy bands were courteous and clean-cut, when TV was new, and when the real crises were about bad skin, fitting in, and falling in and out of love. It still looked an awful lot like the 1950s, but Rock'nRoll was sneaking up on everybody in broad daylight, clean-shaven, Bryl-creamed, and wearing a suit and tie. 

Monday, February 03, 2014

First workshop for the June 2014 telling of the Iliad

It's been two years since the Ottawa Storytellers brought the Odyssey to the National Arts Centre, and many of the same tellers are back, along with some new daring recruits, grappling now with Homer's other, perhaps greater, epic story.  On June 14th, 2014, from 10:00 in the morning to 10:00 at night (with breaks for meals etc.) the Ottawa Storytellers will be telling Homer's Iliad at the NAC 4th Stage.  A hardy band of storytellers spent this past  weekend working collectively on bringing this seminal story of Western culture to life.  The work has just begun:  parts must be edited, tweaked, learned, refined, practised again and again.  Funds must be raised. This unique storytelling performance must be marketed and publicized -- tickets must be sold, so that we will not be telling to empty chairs.  Most of all, this rich, violent, complex, tragic story must be internalized, felt, understood, transmuted into a collective performance.  But what a wonderful start!  Already we can feel the different books growing together, the many voices weaving into one big tapestry of story.  Already this epic, which seemed at first to be "just" an interminable battle scene, is revealing its depth and winning us over.  I am so happy to be part of this adventure with my fellow storytellers.
(Picture: )

Friday, December 13, 2013

Now entering the 21st century, a bit late: Tom's CDs now available online in digital form!

 The digital version of my two CDs, "Made of Sky," (Mylodon Music, 1999) and , "Practical Man" (Mylodon Music, 2004), or individual tracks, can now be purchased online from CD Baby. Just click on the links below!  (You can also order the physical CD from CD Baby, though if you are ordering from inside Canada, the shipping costs make it cheaper to order directly from Mylodon Music by mail, using the CD order form on my website,

Tom Lips: Made of Sky

Tom Lips: Practical Man

I admit I am a late arrival to digital distribution.  Personally I like having a physical CD, with liner notes, etc., but I know that a lot of people now listen mainly on portable devices.  They appreciate the convenience of being able to buy a single track or the whole CD and listen right away, without waiting for delivery. 

If you don't need a physical CD and can do without liner notes, buying the digital version is faster, cheaper and easier.  It's an interesting experiment!

I've arranged for CD Baby to make the physical CDs available as well, with a view to reaching more people; but frankly it makes more sense for people in Canada to order CDs directly from me: it will be cheaper (when shipping is factored in) and probably faster. 

By the way, there is a new CD on the way early in 2014.  I'm really excited about it.  Stay tuned!

Monday, September 09, 2013

September 21 Nuit blanche: Paintings, stories, and songs

I have had the incredible privilege of having my portrait painted by the amazing Karen Bailey, as part of her collaboration with Ottawa Storytellers for this year's Nuit Blanche in Ottawa. I'll expand this post later, but for basic details see  On the evening of September 21, six storytellers will meet their portraits and perform short stories (and, in my case, songs) at the Rectory Art House, 179 Murray st., Ottawa .  The event starts at 7 and goes to the wee hours!

Monday, December 10, 2012

Promotional video for "Speaking Out, Speaking In" series

I think this is the first time I have appeared in a promotional video.  Have a look:

(I've inserted the link instead of embedding the video directly, because the search function that Blogger uses to embed videos can't seem to "find" this video on Youtube, even when I search using the URL.  Guess this means I may not get famous this way after all...)

Anyhow, hope you enjoy the video.  Studio clips of storytelling are fun, but the real pleasure comes in hearing stories live.  See my previous post for details about the December 13th performance.

Saturday, December 08, 2012

"Swindles, Scams and Snake Oil" December 13, 2012

Looking for something a bit different for the Christmas season?  “Swindles, Scams and Snake Oil” is a light-hearted storytelling performance in the “Speaking Out, Speaking In” series at the 4th Stage of the National Arts Centre in Ottawa (See

This December 13th show features true and fictional tales of con artists, swindles, and offers that are (literally) too good to be true.  The show includes two of my own stories as well as a couple of original songs composed by me.

For this show I share the stage with two talented storytellers, Mary Wiggin and Kathryn Hunt, both veterans of the 4th Stage series.

Tickets are available at the NAC Box Office for $20.  Students can get a discount through the Live Rush program (if seats are available) and seniors can get discounts on a package of four shows in the series.  If you don’t mind paying a processing fee of $5.50 per ticket, you can also buy tickets online at

Whether I see you there or not, I hope you have a very happy Christmas and a fulfilling New Year, rich in songs and stories!

Swindles, Scams, and Snake Oil
December 13,  7:30 pm at the NAC Fourth Stage.
Kathryn Hunt, Tom Lips, and Mary Wiggin

Sunday, December 02, 2012

10th Annual Christmas Goose Concert, Dec 1, 2012

I had the honour and great pleasure to be one of the singer-songwriters tagged to perform a the 10th Annual Christmas Goose Concert this year.  Held at the NAC 4th Stage in Ottawa on December 1st, it was completely sold out, and that was not a complete surprise: after ten years, a lot of people are in on the secret of what a great evening this is.  I have been lucky enough to participate in at least half of the concerts so far, and each time I come away impressed with the range and quality of original songs presented, and the warm spirit of the event. If you didn't get a ticket, you can still buy the new CD, The Christmas Pudding, which includes one track of mine, "Gold Rush"; as with the concert, it benefits the Ottawa Food Bank. I'm pretty sure it will be available from the Ottawa Folklore Centre.

The above photo was taken by Kate Morgan, and shows yours truly at the microphone, premiering a new silly song, "Santa's Skinny Sibling." I'm flanked by folk veteran Chris White and blues man Al G. Wood

Here is a description lifted from Otttawa Blues This Week:
"10th Annual Christmas GOOSE Concert doubles as a CD Release! Local Songwriters support the Ottawa Food Bank!
This isn't a house concert but it has the intimacy and magic of a house concert. It's a fabulous evening ...which is why it’s returned for 10 years!
Follow the GOOSE to the NAC Fourth Stage for the 10th annual Christmas GOOSE Concert, December 1st 2012. The GOOSE is back to delight audiences with another cast of local singer songwriters to perform original and favourite Christmas and seasonal songs in support of the Ottawa Food Bank. This is our 10th Annual! Come on out and discover why the Christmas GOOSE concert has become a tradition for many. We’re pleased to announce this year’s line-up, which includes Al Wood, Arthur McGregor, Chris White, Finest Kind, John Hanson, Mary Moore & Marlylise Chauvette, Pat Moore, Terry Gillespie, and Tom Lips.

And ... to celebrate the 10th  anniversary, we have collaborated with CKCU to produce a 3rd Christmas Goose CD, which will be released at the concert, Dec 1, 2012.Pre-show entertainment will be provided by the Ottawa Homeschool Choir. This is truly a community event not to be missed!

What started as a ‘one off Christmas songwriting project by a number of local singer/songwriters turned into a Christmas tradition for many! First it was a way to inspire songwriting, then it was a CD, with a CD release concert where proceeds went to the Ottawa Food Bank. Members of the songwriting community wanted to give back. Now into its 10th year, and 3 CDs later, we are proud to bring once again, a stellar cast to the NAC Fourth Stage."