Musings from the ever-changing, ever-amazing and occasionally ever-baffling Fort McMurray, Alberta.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Dave Gunning Captures Hearts and Hands at Live Bar and Grill

If you read this blog on a regular basis you may recall a post about a house concert, and a musician named Dave Gunning. Before that house concert I hadn't even known who Dave was, and had never heard his music. After that concert, though, and the experience I had (both personal and musical) Dave has become one of my very favourite Canadian musicians. Musically gifted, kind, funny, warm, and generous, Dave epitomizes what is good about Canadians, and about people - and so, when I heard he was coming back to town for another show I hopped on board quickly.

It was a bit different this time as the venue was not the house of a friend but rather the newly renovated Live Bar and Grill, located downstairs in the Nomad Inn. You may recall this bar from an earlier incarnation, when it was called "Delaney's". Now, I always rather liked this bar, as it is quiet and a bit hidden away and small, so not prone to excessively large crowds. In the new incarnation, though, it is even better, and it is headed in a direction I think we need in this community, a bar that will fill a niche that is unfilled. You see, the management of Live Bar and Grill intend to use the bar to not only hold corporate functions and routine bar events but also live music events like Dave Gunning, bringing in artists who may otherwise struggle to find a venue here suitable to their style and financially viable, too. In my opinion Live Bar and Grill is the ideal place for this, as it is cozy and hidden, just like all the tiny little bars I used to frequent on the Toronto music scene, bars where I saw bands like Blue Rodeo and Big Sugar begin to rise at the very start of their careers.

This concert was a bit different, too, as it was by advance ticket sales, and I was not surprised to hear it sold out. Dave is popular for many reasons and with a very wide demographic, his East Coast roots appealing to those here who hail from those places, and his musical talent appealing to everyone with any sense. Dave is not just a musician, however, but a story teller of the best variety, using his lyrics to tell tales of everything from hangings (traditional folk music fare, really) to love. An evening with Dave is a bit of a joy ride through the peaks and valleys of human experience and emotion, as he recounts stories of CD covers gone wrong (inadvertently raising the ire of the Canadian Mint by using images of the penny) to stories of how he writes his songs. An evening with Dave is the kind that leaves you a bit breathless from singing along to well known songs like "Fare Thee Well to Nova Scotia", and from clapping along to those songs where you don't know the words.

I always find it tough to pick a favourite song from Dave's repertoire. I had thought "These Hands" was my favourite, but then again "Saltwater Hearts" is one that touched me deeply, too. And then there is "Made on a Monday", a song about the suspect quality of those items manufactured on Mondays (after the weekend when some are still recovering), and leaving me wondering if perhaps I was "made on a Monday", too.

What amazed me that night is when I was there I was receiving texts and messages from friends from all over who wished they could be there to see Dave. Some were working, and some had simply missed out on the chance to get tickets. They would text me song requests or ask what he was playing, and I would tell them so they could live a little bit vicariously. For a musician who is, I think, a wee bit unknown, Dave has a very loyal and devoted following. I suppose that's because at some point those fans were touched by Dave, too, by one of his songs or one of the stories he told.

In the last post about Dave I wrote that his song "These Hands" made me think a great deal about my own hands and their purpose in life. Over time that purpose has become clearer and clearer to me, and writing has become not only a hobby, but something I do for money - and for joy. And so too it is with Dave Gunning, I think. Those hands of his create music that brings him money, but far more importantly I think it brings him joy and happiness. I know for certain it brings joy and happiness to those who appreciate him as I do, and as it did to the ones who filled the Live Bar and Grill, giving Dave a standing ovation at the end of a stellar show, showing him that the purpose of those clapping hands was to praise him for bringing that joy to us. Dave Gunning will likely come to town again, and all I can say is this: Get your tickets very early, because they won't last long. Dave Gunning is a superstar, and this woman continues to marvel at her good fortune in being able to call herself his fan - and friend.

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