Dave Gunning, Artist of the Week
Runs Apr. 4-8th.
Dave Gunning is a Canadian Folk singer-songwriter born in Pictou County, Nova Scotia. Gunning credits the first live concert he ever observed, a 1981 double bill of John Allan Cameron and Stan Rogers, to be a major driving force in shaping the direction his life would take as a musician.
Call it the silver lining in the cloud of a brutally cold Nova Scotia winter. When acclaimed folk singer/songwriter Dave Gunning decided it was time to make his 11th solo album, he found the bleak weather outside a blessing, not a curse. “We were literally snowed in, but the power was on and I was good to go,” he says of the making of that album, Lift.
The record’s sparse and acoustic template proves to be the perfect vehicle for Dave’s neatly-crafted and poetic material and gently expressive vocals. There are no drums on the record, and Gunning handles much of the playing himself, contributing fluent acoustic guitar, upright bass (“the same one I used touring in Stompin’ Tom Connors’ band,” he notes with pride), highstring guitar, and banjo. Talented pals JP Cormier, Thom Swift, Jamie Robinson, Darren McMullen and Asa Brosius take effective cameos on different tracks.
Lift is actually Gunning’s first self-produced album. That’s a surprise, given that he has worked as a co-producer, recording engineer and mixer on albums by such top East Coast artists as Bruce and Dylan Guthro, JP Cormier, Steven Bowers, Buddy MacDonald, and Còig (who recently won an East Coast Music Award and Canadian Folk Award for their 2014 album Five, co-produced by Gunning).
Eleven albums in, Dave Gunning has become a truly masterful songwriter, one who has earned real peer respect from such Canadian folk songwriting legends as Ron Hynes, David Francey, and James Keelaghan. “I grew up listening to people like Ron Hynes,” says Dave. “I look up to them but then it hits me sometimes that I’m their peer and they like my stuff too. It’s a weird headspace, flipping from being a fan to being a peer.”
Co-writing with his peers has had a major impact on Gunning. “The co-writing process has really helped my career, as it helps you keep the energy momentum going,” he explains. “Unlike the assembly-line approach of Nashville writing sessions, there’s a spontaneous and relaxed approach to writing with Gunning that is reflected in the warmth of the material. Gunning’s banjo-fuelled campfire singalong version is equally rousing in its depiction of the present-day migration of Maritimers to the Albertan oil patch.http://www.davegunning.com/
The 13 songs on Lift cover refreshingly broad lyrical terrain. Story and character-based songs fit snugly alongside more personal material, and in true folk music tradition, some numbers could be considered protest songs. Gunning acknowledges that “this album has more personal and introspective songs than my past recordings. I do still love songs that are about things and tell a real story, like the songs of Stan Rogers. They inspire me.”
Though many of his songs remain rooted in the province Dave is proud to call home, they have proved they can travel well. A genuinely engaging performer and storyteller, he is now a fixture on the folk festival and club circuit in the rest of Canada and United States. An initial foray into Australia was well-received, and he is now planning a return tour in March 2016.
Gunning’s recording career is now approaching a full two decades in length (his debut album, Lost Tracks, came out in 1996). Along with richly-deserved peer respect, he has also earned a shelf full of music industry awards. That tally now stands at eight East Coast Music Awards and two Canadian Folk Music Awards, plus a 2012 Juno Award nomination in the Roots & Traditional Solo Album of the Year category for his album …a tribute to John Allan Cameron, a compelling homage to another of Dave’s Maritime musical heroes.
His songwriting skill has also been internationally recognized, with earlier tunes scoring victories and high placings in some major international songwriting competitions. As a fervent hockey fan, Gunning was also thrilled to win the CBC’s hotly-contested Hockey Night In Canada Song Quest in 2014 with “A Game Goin’ On,” a co-write with David Francey.
Awards & Nominations
|2014||Winner ECMA Songwriter of the Year (These Hands) Winner ECMA Solo Recording of the Year (No More Pennies) First Place Winner Great American Song Contest for his song, These Hands (co-written with George Canyon) Winner CBC Hockey Night In Canada Song Quest for his song, A Game Goin’ On (co-written with David Francey) ECMA Fans Choice Entertainer of the Year Nomination ECMA Fans Choice Video of the Year, These Hands (Director: Scott Simpson) Nomination|