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The Tragically Hip: Ordinary Guys, Extraordinary Group

June 3, 2016

The true greats are often humble.

From my hat trick of personal experiences, The Hip may be the most humble Canadian band.

In my books, that only reinforces their status as our Country’s finest ever.


1.Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, July 26, 2000

A few weeks after high school graduation, I drove with a few friends to Philly to see The Hip at The Theatre of the Living Arts. General admission. Front row. Obligatory screaming when the lyric “Toronto” was sung in Bobcaeygeon.

After the stellar set, while waiting out front of the venue, a limousine arrived. My friends and I thought, wow, limo, who are these big shots?

Well, whoever the limo passengers were, they definitely weren’t The Hip. Instead, when three of the band members did emerge, after some autographs and photos with their adoring fans, two of the guys hailed a cab, the third calmly walked down the street!

Ordinary guys, extraordinary group.

Me in June 2016 (holding stage setlist from July 2000)


2.Kingston, Ontario, 2006-present

I grew up thinking Kingston was a magical place.

My favourite band (TTH) & my favourite hockey player (Doug Gilmour) were from Kingston, what’s not to like?

So naturally, 14 years later, I moved to Kingston.

And I was promptly coaching high school volleyball, looking across the court at The Hip’s lead guitarist, politely cheering for his son.

When in Kingston, you can’t help but see members of the band around town.

In restaurants, with their families downtown, making guest appearances when groups like the Trews come to town.

In every encounter, they conduct themselves like ordinary guys, just how extraordinary musicians always should.

Perhaps my favourite Kingston intersection


3.My Grade 11 Marketing classroom, 2007

When I teach marketing, I get my students to compete in a “March Madness” style bracket. In the marketing tournament, each group has to represent a given company & face off against a direct competitor.

As a demo, one year I asked a colleague to argue on behalf of Starbucks, while I represented Tim Hortons.

When defending my coffee company’s relative lack of international success, I argued, “hey, we’re like The Tragically Hip, We’re Canadian, Canadians Get us.”

Following the presentation, one of my students called out, “I’m going to tell my uncle you said that.”

I stood looking confused for a few moments (as that was the first time anyone had threatened to call an extended family member based on a class discussion) before she continued, smiling, “my uncle is Gord Downie.”



PowerPoint slide from my 2007 demo marketing presentation

Turns out, Kingston is a magical place!

In what can only be described as the Best Student Christmas Present Ever, her incredibly kind & generous family gave my wonderful wife & I backstage passes to that year’s Kingston show.

Although I was beyond surprised (and delighted) to receive such an awesome gift, I was not at all surprised (but still delighted) by the band’s typically humble conduct backstage.

Just ordinary guys after yet another extraordinary show.


It’s a multi-blog TTH event today.

Check out these extraordinary posts by my fellow ordinary bloggers!

Boppin from Boppin’s Blog
Aaron from Keeps Me Alive
Scott G (Guest post) from Mike Ladano
Sarca from Caughtmegaming
Deke from Stick It In Your Ear
James from Keeps Me Alive

From → Uncategorized

  1. Cool concert experience.

    Are you lucky enough to be going to the final show. I’ve been trying but no luck.

    • I struck out on Friday too – I’m hoping Kingston Market Square streams the show (like how the Raptor fans cheer on the team outside the arena)

  2. Great stories, all of them, my fave being the class heckler. Brilliant. But really shit about the medical diagnosis.

  3. Great stuff man. Great pic too! Nice way to display the setlist.

  4. Great stories, Geoff! And that track list framed – brilliant!

    • My thanks Sarca, it’s my one attempt so far at creating a memento to hang on the wall, I’m pleased with the results!

  5. I had a Canadian friend who was a fellow music fan before I moved from England to the U.S. and he termed The Tragically Hip, “Canada’s best kept secret”. He burned a copy of an album for me called “Fully Completely” which I remember quite enjoying, but because they didn’t release any music in the U.K. never ventured any further. Maybe now is the time to catch up on their back catalogue.

    • Fully completely was my gateway album too!
      Geoff, I’d argue any time is a fine time to get caught up on their catalogue 🙂

  6. Holy crap, Kingston really IS magical! Great post Geoff, I love every second of this. I always had a sense that they were just cool dudes doing their thing, and graciously conducting themselves wherever they went. YES! Hip! Hip! Hip!

    • I’m lucky to live in such a magical place! And yes, your sense was well founded, humble lads all around

  7. Jordan Richardson permalink

    Great stuff, man. Was hoping to secure tickets to a final go-around, but I think we all know how that turned out for the average Canuck.

    • Thanks Jordan – I’m afraid it was the same average Canadian experience for me too with the tickets!

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. Gord Downie: My Favourite Moments | Boppin's Blog
  2. Gord Downie Tribute | keepsmealive
  3. Nordic Countries: 4th time’s the charm! | 1001albumsin10years

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