THE GREAT CANADIAN SWAMPSTOMPERS
The Swampstompers was formed in 2011 by Ted Rusk, who was well-known locally and in Toronto as a talented singer-songwriter, musician and broadcaster, and McMullin, a fellow musician who is known to many as one-half of the local pop-folk duo Our Shotgun Wedding.
Lauren Jewell, McMullin’s wife and the other half of Our Shotgun Wedding, and drummer Steven Danard joined the band later.
Rusk wrote and sang Swampstomers’ songs and played the guitar.
McMullin said Rusk was a “big believer in the three-minute movie,” meaning he wrote short songs that told true stories.
“You can always tell if it’s a Ted Rusk song because the whole thing will be like a little movie with all different musical passages and a narrative story to it,” he said.
Added Jewel: “We’re playing a song today called the Ballad of Dixie the Trucker and it’s about a truck-driving woman, based on a true story from Ted’s life.”
Rusk suffered a massive heart attack on May 24 in Owen Sound. He had to be resuscitated and airlifted to St. Mary’s Hospital in Kitchener where he was put into an induced coma and had a blockage removed from his artery, according to a GoFundMe page that was set up at the time to help cover the costs for Rusk’s son Max to visit his father in Kitchener.
Rusk died on June 7 at age 61.
A celebration of his life and music, dubbed Tedstock, was held in July.
“We sang a lot of Ted’s songs on that day and we had musician friends come and join us. And it was in that process when we were like, maybe we can do this,” McMullin said of the decision to keep the band going.
“We knew it would be different, it’s not the same without Ted, but it feels right to keep singing his songs and not to give up on this thing that we worked so hard on for all these years.”
The band started playing gigs again in November, Jewell said.
McMullin and Jewell both sing and so does new member Cody Zevenbergen, the band’s guitarist.
Denis Langlois Owen Sound Sun Times