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Steve Dickinson’s Songs and Stories For A Saturday Night

Review of concert at Massie Hall, May 19, 2018, by Bill Monahan

This past Saturday, Massie Hall presented Steve Dickinson in concert as part of this year’s concert series.  Steve had been the first performer presented at Massie Hall thirteen years ago when a local group of volunteers had bought the historic school house to turn it into a community centre and Pete Miller initiated the tradition of summer concerts.  Last year Steve performed here as a kind of homecoming after several years of international adventures in the music business.  His return on Saturday night brought out an audience which included some die-hard fans who have all his albums.

Presenter Ralph Bergman introduced him as “a local legend”.  Despite a quiet humility, his talent lived up to that billing with engaging songs and a one-in-a-million voice.

After a few opening songs that reached far back into his past, including “Marlowe Lindsay”, an evocative look at mortality, Steve did a medley of Bob Segar songs.  It was fitting because his vocal similarity to Segar had taken him far afield, sharing the stage with bands like Boston and being included on a compilation album alongside legends that included Elton John and Rod Stewart.  The short Segar medley kicked it up a notch and the original songs that followed burned with intensity.

He introduced one song, “Summer Rain,” from his 2002 album called “Good Old Days”, saying, “I thought this was going to be a million seller.  Instead I had to get a bigger house to keep a million of them in my basement.”  It was ironic because the song really does sound like it should have been a huge hit, with all the touchstones of timeless classic rock.  Another irony is that Steve at one time played with members of Kid Rock’s band and “Summer Rain” sounds perfectly suited for that artist.

If it hasn’t become the radio staple that it deserves to be, you can still download and enjoy both the album and the song from iTunes, CD Baby or Spotify.  His music ages well and any of his albums if well worth an addition to your playlist.

Over the years Steve Dickinson has been backed up by the best.  When he started, some of the best local musicians played with him and since then he’s been backed by members of the bands of Bob Segar, Eric Clapton and Kid Rock.  He’s been produced by the talented Rick Hutt and co-written with artists like Dean McTaggart.  He’s had more than one ride of the roller coaster of music business success.

With all of this history lending a superstar legitimacy to his music he proved on Saturday night that he is, as Ralph Bergman quoted Trevor Mackenzie as saying, “a complete show all on his own.”  With just his voice, guitar and occasionally harmonica, he held the audience in his hands, hanging on every word even as he unravelled fairly lengthy anecdotes between songs.  And he was called back for an encore, for which he performed one of his airplay successes, “Ten Summers Past”.

And with that the concert was over all too soon.

Saturday night’s concert was one of a series of impressive shows lined up this summer at Massie Hall.  A small unassuming venue seemingly miles from anywhere, it is a real find for local music fans.

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