Tag Archives: David Hawkins

Life is Grand For Bill Dickson

Bill Dickson’s smooth soothing vocals and classic folk rhythms carry his CD, “Isn’t Life Grand” along a dreamy road that’s full of wonder.  It makes no sense standing there wondering why, we’re all just a bunch of monkeys and isn’t life grand (when compared to the alternative)?

The album really is about how grand life is. In Bill Dickson’s world, there is a zest for life that makes even the painful some sort of celebration.  He sings about a long drunken night counting off the hours thinking about his wonder woman that can become every woman.  He follows the lure of the sea in a light shanty about “taking my life where the wind may blow”.  He’s created a classic campfire song in “This Moment” with the sage advice to “live in this moment.  Forget about the future, it may not be here and that’s a fact,” because “if you’re watered and fed and you had your poop that’s all that matters.”

Click on album cover to preview the tunes

There are a couple of femme fatales lurking in the songs: the shape-shifting wonder woman who’s kept him up wandering all night and the girl across the street who’s “gonna, oh my, I don’t want to say, but you can feel her rhythm from a thousand miles away.”  He can’t resist being pulled toward her but she would never be his, she likes choice too much.  The way he puts it, “She’s got feet and she’ll dance.”  As dangerous as they are, these women fill him with energy and the urge to dance his life away.

The urge to roam is evident in some songs.  In “No Matter Where We Roam,” after fibbing about having been someplace he wasn’t, he claims to have been to “Oilberta”, to “Vancouver, they speak Chinese there” and “to Chicago, I got the blues there,”  but  “no matter where we roam we’re all going home”.

“When I Was A Boy” by David Hawkins

Here is a song by Owen Sound based singer-songwriter Dave Hawkins called “When I Was A Boy”.  It evokes those halcyon days of innocence when boys spend their days in the sunshine and their nights “out under the stars” giving their imaginations free range, the days when the entire future is full of promise.

Dave has been a musician since he was very young.  When his older brother was given a guitar for Christmas he played it as well and when the family was given a piano he took lessons from his aunt, getting as far as Grade 5 Conservatory.

“My brother and I used to play and sing harmonies on songs by The Eagles, Bob Dylan, Neil Young,” he says, “I found that it was a way to let out all that teen angst.  It’s been a constant friend to me for forty-five years, a wonderful way to learn what’s going on in your heart.”

He came to songwriting from the same motivation.  Although he did some songwriting in his twenties, it is just in the past few years he has begun to take it more seriously.

“Just about three or four years before I retired I started writing again,” he says, “I started writing because I want to get some perspective on who I am now.”  It’s important to him that a song has meaning.  “If I start writing a song I won’t finish it unless it has a deeper meaning – an emotion, an angst, a comment on a life situation.”

His songs do that.  With a relaxed and amiable stage presence, a resonant baritone voice and a sense of humour (that sometimes cuts deeper than it seems if you’re not paying attention), he is a seasoned performer.  He started as part of a folk duo/trio which morphed into a blues band, then a jazz band, usually built around singing with his wife Trish.  “Now I’m back into country with Trish and The Tractors,” he says.  This popular band specializes in classic country dance music and they play regularly around the area.

His interest in music has dominated his working life, leading him to become a music-related retailer.  First he started a used record store called Record Trade, which still exists in Owen Sound, re-named Randy’s Records by its current owner (still a great place for vinyl lovers).  Then he bought Fromager Music and ran it for thirty years before retiring just a few years ago, selling the business to Long & McQuade.

Through the years he has been a constant and important part of Georgian Shores Songwriters, a loose collective of songwriters that meets every few weeks to exchange song ideas and feedback in a relaxed setting.

With a growing interest in songwriting he is starting to perform his original songs more.  He was part of a Songwriters’ Showcase that happened at The Red Door in Meaford a few weeks ago, sharing the evening with songwriters Bill Monahan and John Brownlow.  It went over well and the three of them enjoyed it enough that they are going to do it again, this time at the Garafraxa Café in Durham on a Sunday afternoon, June 25th.

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Songwriters A Hit at The Red Door

Review by Robert Menzies of Songwriter’s Showcase at The Red Door May 12, 2017

A big warm soul-shine wow, am I ever satisfied that I went over to Meaford Friday night to see and hear three sets of great original music by David Hawkins, John Brownlow, and Bill Monahan, each who did a solo set of around 8 impressive, highly entertaining and well crafted songs. That’s around 24 originals… and everyone of them very good.

And at the end of the show the audience (who were both really cool and also packing the place … The Red Door Bar and Grille) persuaded them to all go on stage and do one more song. They did (joined by Brian Hopson) and they did the only cover of the entire night…..The song “You Can’t Always Get What You Want.” … and that’s true enough… but last night I got exactly what I needed. It’s nice when that happens, sometimes.

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The Red Door Pub Showcases Songwriters

On Friday, May 12th, the Red Door Pub and Grille at the Meaford Motel will be presenting a showcase of three songwriters for a special evening.  Since it began to feature live music on Friday evenings, the talent booked into The Red Door has had a slightly different approach from other venues.  With an emphasis on jazz and classical players, it has provided an alternative to the primarily rock flavoured acts that are featured at venues like The Leeky Canoe, leaning more toward what’s known as a “listening room” where people come to quietly enjoy the performances.  And timing the shows from seven to ten on a Friday evening means that fans can enjoy these acts over a meal and still head down the street to The Leeky just in time to arrive when things are starting to happen there.

The great success of the recent Gallery Concert Series at Meaford Hall demonstrated a genuine appetite for a small quiet venue that features original music, with almost every show in the series a sell-out.  To focus on the original music of songwriters can be a bit of a challenge but it is clear that our area supports that approach.  In Thornbury, Bruce Wine Bar has a policy of featuring original acts only and their shows on the weekends attract a loyal audience, as does their open stage on Wednesday nights.  The many other open stages in the area also feature a lot of original talent.  Jon Farmer has presented special songwriter evenings at The Bleeding Carrot in Owen Sound and they too have drawn capacity audiences.

As you sit through and listen to the individual styles of each of these songwriters, you’ll find yourself engaged in the spirit of the songs, and the stories they contain.

The three songwriters featured on this inaugural songwriters’ night at The Red Door will be Bill Monahan, David Hawkins and John Brownlow.   Although they have different styles, they also have some things in common.  All three are prolific songwriters who have a lot of respect for the craft, and for their audiences, writing and performing to reach an audience with stories and reflections that will resonate.  And although they have made their livings in different ways, each has spent a lifetime immersed in music, providing support for other talents and motivated by a love of musical creativity.  Their love of music has led each in his own way to become an integral part of music development in the area.