As Nova Scotian folk singer-songwriter Dave Gunning prepares to enter his second decade of music-making, there is little slowing him down.
On top of routinely undertaking upwards of 160 shows per year, Gunning – performing at Moncton’s Empress Theatre in Robinson Court downtown on Thursday evening – has maintained a prolific release schedule.
His most recent effort, Lift, was recorded ins his Pictou County home studio during a time many summer-loving Maritimers would prefer forgetting – the notorious winter of 2014/15.
“We were snowed in. What better time to write and make a record?” Gunning rhetorically asks.
Despite being his 11th effort, the release marked a first for Gunning: Lift is the songwriter’s first self-produced album of original material, a seed he says was planted by some of his closest peers, including New Brunswick’s Matt Andersen, Thom Swift and J.P. Cormier.
“Aside from the John Allen Cameron tribute record that I released, I’ve always had a helping hand when it comes to the production side of my albums,” he says. “I played some of the album’s demos for Matt, Thom, and J.P., only to have each of them suggest I take the reins of this release. They suggested I keep the arrangements simple and be very sparse with the instrumentation. After I had the chance to really think about what they were suggesting, I realized that it made a lot of sense.”
Asked if he exhibited any nerves once he made the decision to oversee Lift on his own, Gunning says they vanished quickly enough.
“I did initially doubt myself a little bit, but once I got deeper into the making of the album, I started to feel much more confident in my abilities. There was nothing in the way of stress, because, as I was making the record, I had it in my head that what I was recording wasn’t going to be the finished product anyway, so I wasn’t overthinking the performances. Looking back upon it, it is probably the easiest record I have made.”
The 13 songs found on the record cover a broad lyrical space, featuring story-telling inspired songs along with more personal, introspective moments and more. One of the record’s highlights is “Sing It Louder,” a track that Gunning wrote thanks to the inspiration of celebrated folk artist Pete Seeger.
“The goal was to write a song that would be worthy of him singing,” Gunning declares.
If you were to examine Gunning’s storied career thus far, one can be fairly assured that he knows exactly what he is doing.
In addition to the critical, fan and peer acclaim that he has received, Gunning has also earned a shelf of music industry awards, including eight East Coast Music Awards, two Canadian Folk Music Awards, as well as a 2012 Juno Award nomination. In 2014, Gunning’s track “A Game Goin’ On,” a song co-written by fellow folk musician David Francey, was crowned the winner of CBC’s Hockey Night In Canada Song Quest competition.
In the weeks following Gunning’s performance in Moncton, he will be jetting off to Australia for 13 shows over an approximate two-and-a-half week span.
After that, Gunning will play a series of shows in Ontario shows, followed by a sojourn south of the border in May.
What: Dave Gunning
When: Thursday March 3, 7:30 p.m.
Where: Empress Theatre, Robinson Court, Downtown Moncton
Tickets are $29.00 plus service charges. Advance tickets are available at the Capitol Theatre Box Office (811 Main St., Moncton) and by phone (506) 856-4379