Hello again for another week music lovers !
It definitely rained a lot for Canada Day almost everywhere but it did not dampen the spirits and a break in the Muskoka area of Ontario was a welcome respite for what has been a hectic year so far full of music..... with good wine, food and visits with the family it was great for a recharge of the batteries.
A few days prior to the festivities saw us in Toronto attending the Four Chords and The Truth Event at the Dakota Tavern which was founded by singer / songwriter Andrea England and that's what this weeks blog is all about.
Four chords and the Truth was the idea of Andrea, Inspired by the “ in the round ” sessions on Canada’s East Coast and in Nashville, Andrea wanted to established a regular grass-roots series in Toronto, but wanted to present a wider range of music. Andrea said " It’s a rare opportunity to hear bare-bones versions of songs — from different genres — and the stories that inspired them, "
The series - which has been dubbed ' The Dakota Sessions ' - debuted on June 18th 2015 and is presented in partnership with Jack Daniel's, Blues & Roots Radio has been very lucky to have been involved from day one ... how did that happen ?
Well we were introduced to Andrea by David Leask a few years back and when I heard the news of the first event I asked Andrea if it would be possible to come along and interview her about the show, she suggested that maybe it would work if all the artists agreed that I could interview them all on the night and do a one off special, well, two years later and almost fifty interviews have been aired with some of Canada's best and most successful songwriters in a multitude of genres from Andy Kim, Jason McCoy ( The Roadhammers ) Dan Hill, Rob Wells, Damhnait Doyle, Paul Reddick, Tom Wilson ( BaRK ) to Kelly Prescott, Colin MacDonald ( The Trews ) , Kim Stockwood and many more ... a full list can be found here fourchordsandthetruth.com/alumni/ ... I got to interview David Leask at a Four Chords night that he himself performed at bringing the story full circle.
Each show is followed by an accompanying Blues & Roots Radio special a couple of weeks later with interviews from the night and music by the artists from their latest releases. The next radio show will be broadcast July 16th.
There is an amazing ability that Andrea has of being able to fit together artists from varying genres who come together on the night and make it a wonderful experience for the audience, which brings me to some of the reasons that this event has been so successful and sold out for every single show since day one.
Every single artist ( with the exception of one, and that's not a bad strike rate, out of almost fifty ) are the loveliest of people, no ego's, all relaxed on the night willing to share their stories and chat with the audience after the event, and all extremely gracious ( except one :) ) with their time to chat with me for the show.
The Dakota Tavern is the perfect venue for this kind of intimate evening, the stage and sound are excellent, the staff are enthusiastic and welcoming and extremely attentive during the show, one thing you know if you are an artist, is if the sound guy has set you up well then you are relaxed and looking forward to the show, no edginess, and that seems always to be the case at this event, kudos to the sound guy ! That emanates out to the audience ... and that is in my opinion the main reason why this all works so perfectly well
#JackDaniels & #Unison
The team that Andrea along with her husband Mike put together to help get the word out is beyond cool to be a part of, Jack Daniels are the presenting sponsor and always have a stand within the Dakota with a selection of their established and new brands, and sometimes free stuff like T-Shirts and Caps too ! That's pretty cool ! They even donated a Jack Daniels Guitar which contained the signatures of many of the artists who have performed, it was won in a raffle by a very lucky audience member at a previous event and the money collected from the proceeds was donated at this event to The Unison Benevolent Fund, a charity who help with the welfare of musicians in need, that's pretty cool too !
The event official photographer is Mike Highfield, an amazingly talented individual who you can find at Tour Bus Entertainment, his captures are all pretty amazing !
When the artists are on stage performing you can hear a pin drop, attentive, knowledgable, independent music lovers each and every audience member that comes along to listen and be a part of the experience, and believe me it is an unforgettable experience each time, As part of the evening Andrea always has a secret special guest, each artist sings three songs and Andrea having sung her first gives up her seat to someone that the audience are not told about prior to the show .... this event saw recent Juno winner Paul Reddick and the amazing Kelly Prescott perform a song each from their respective latest releases, so the evening is really star studded. The audience are fans from all walks of life, people that might have found out about the show from their friends or from listening to a Blues & Roots Radio behind the scenes recap, or through social media, what I have found is once folks have been to a show or two they begin to recognize people that have been to a show before, strike up a conversation and before you know it are arranging to meet at the next one, that's how I met my buddy Sock Monkey Jack ! More on him later.....
I have seen grown men cry and pass tissues to each other after touching stories and songs have been performed, I have witnessed much laughter and hilarity at antics and banter from the artists, I have seen Andy Kim have the audience in the palm of his hand singing along to his smash hit ' Sugar Sugar ' ...... I was there when Serena Ryder walked out of the audience as a surprise guest and sang a duet ' In The Morning ' with Colin MacDonald ( The Trews ).
What is really special about these events is that what may be a special moment for me might not be for someone else because they have witnessed there own very special moment to remember the show by that I might have missed because I was fixated with Kelly Prescott or Shakura S'Aida .... I think all the guys were :) ... Shakura is going to think I am stalking her because over the next month I'll be attending her shows at The Roy Thompson Hall ( The Sunken Garden, sorry, an in joke that Shakura will get ) and she will be at Summerfolk Arts and Craft Festival in Owen Sound in August as will be Kelly too .... oh dear , they really are going to think I'm stalking them !
So next weeks radio show will contain interview segments which we grabbed after the show with Cory Marquardt, Justin Nozuka, Shakura S'Aida, Tyler Wilkinson ( The Small Town Pistols ) and with Andrea England herself, and we intersperse the chat with tracks from the artists albums of songs that they performed on the night. www.BluesandRootsRadio.com Sunday 9am EST July 16th.
The next event is September 14th at The Dakota Tavern and Tickets can be purchased at the link here www.ticketfly.com/search/?q=Four+Chords+and+the+Truth
You can find out all about the event at the super website they have created here https://fourchordsandthetruth.com/
follow the event on Facebook and Twitter and share, click like and all that stuff.
Facebook : https://www.facebook.com/fourchordsandthetruth/
Twitter : https://twitter.com/Fourchordstruth
Something that you can expect to take away from the event if you come along for the first time is that you will make many new friends and become a regular attendee, we, like I said at the start of this blog hoped to be able to obtain an interview with Andrea, we have found that we are now part of the team and the experience, Andrea and Mike have given us a poster from each evening containing the signatures of every performer to remember the evening by, Andrea said to me at the last event that she considered my wife and I not just team members but we were like family, and that is how the whole evening feels, it's like sharing a wonderful evening of music amongst family.
I have made many friends over the last two years of attending Four Chords and none more amazing than the rapport and connection I made with SMJ and his Manager / Creator Carolyn Keesh. At one of the first shows he was there having his photograph taken with the performers and we had a snap together, the conversation turned to Carolyn and we connected immediately, her passion for music is obvious, she is a brilliant photographer and the story behind Jack an amazing one, he morphed from a pair of socks to a bit of a celebrity amongst musicians having his photograph taken with over 300 and creating his own website, not bad for a small town sock monkey.
It turns out that Carolyn is married to Newfoundlands Mark Murphy who is an amazing singer / songwriter, musician, artist manager, producer and a great guy who I have known for a long time, he manages the Ennis Sisters and writes and co-writes many of their songs and performs on stage with them. We have all become friends and attend gigs together when we can, an amazing connection all thanks to my buddy SMJ, you will see pictures of him at this event with us and the performers as Carolyn has become so busy she asked if SMJ could tag along to events with us, he is a cheap date so we said yes !
The point being that you will make friends at the evening and sometimes of the most unexpected kind !
Website : http://www.sockmonkeyjack.com/
Facebook : https://www.facebook.com/SockMonkeyJack
Twitter : https://twitter.com/_SockMonkeyJack
We hope to see you in September in Toronto at the next event, I guarantee you'll love it. Please come over and say hello .... SMJ, myself and my wife Anne would be pleased to make new friends.
Until next week, I'll leave you with one of the stunning performers .. Kelly is performing across Canada in July and August on the CP Canada 150 Train with JUNO award winner Dean Brody, Check out her tour at the link ! http://www.kellyprescottmusic.com/