Newfoundland singer-songwriter Dave Thomson writes songs from the heart, expressing the voice of the common man.
Inspired by the icons of country music, including Johnny Cash and Merle Haggard, Thomson’s love of country music has led him to where he is today. And that isn’t a bad place to be.
With two studio records and a grassroots fan base to his credit, Dave makes his Metro Moncton debut at Plan B Lounge on Sunday night.
Like many musicians before him, Dave was bitten by the music bug while in his teens, thanks to his brother, who would help him learn how to play the guitar.
“I was 13 years old when I got my first guitar,” he says. “My brother had been playing for a little while at that point, so it was somewhat natural that he would be the one to get me started.
“I remember the day we sat down together and he asked if I wanted to learn how to play rock or country music on the guitar. Having grown up on country and gospel country music, it really was an easy decision to travel the country route.
“I grew up listening to the likes of Hank Williams Sr., Johnny Cash and Merle Haggard,” Dave says. “My father was a big country music fan, a fan of the really great, iconic country music. Every Saturday night at home consisted of watching the Tommy Hunter Show and the Grand Ole Opry.
“As I got into my teens, I took those influences that my father had turned me onto and combined them with a more modern side of country music. Guys like Garth Brooks brought the excitement of rock’n’roll into country music, while Dwight Yoakam was modern but was paying tribute to that iconic country sound.”
With his background in gospel music, it would only make sense that Dave would play some of his earliest performances in churches. He began writing songs around age 16 and went on to join a three-piece band whose music was rooted in gospel music.
Music remained a big part of Dave’s life as he grew both personally and as a musician over the passing years. After losing his father unexpectedly, Dave decided that life was too short to not follow your dreams.
“My father was a big influence on me, not only because he introduced me to country music but because he was so supportive of me. My father absolutely loved music. Even when I was playing in groups that weren’t necessarily a style that he enjoyed, he was there for me every step of the way. He was the best roadie I could have ever asked for,” Dave laughs.
“When he passed away, it became a marker in my life. Playing music was always something that I talked about, but it was my father’s passing that pushed me to finally decide to just go for it. The tragedy of having lost him is what pushed me. It was at that point that I began to compile songs and completed others that were just kicking around.”
Thus Dave’s debut record Unconditional was born and released in 2008. With songs rooted in the heartbreak of losing his father, as well as his other life experiences up to that point, Dave quietly set about promoting the record throughout the Peterborough, Ont., area where he and his family were living at the time.
Thanks to a combination of solo performances as well as full band shows, he amassed a more-than-respectable following in Ontario. He and his family would end up relocating to Newfoundland, which would inadvertently put the brakes on his musical pursuits while everyone got accustomed to their new home.
It was during discussions with a music producer in his adopted hometown of Lewisporte, N.L., that the seeds for Dave’s second record were planted. Saying that he felt as though it was time to get back into the studio to make new music, things moved along much more quickly than the musician anticipated they would.
“It was through a series of connections that I ended up back in the studio. It really surprised me how quickly it evolved into something more than I anticipated it would, though. I met drummer Shawn Bostick, who helped me assemble my band and help to get things rolling for me again.”
Asked to identify how he feels he has grown in the four years between Unconditional and his sophomore record A Long Road Home (released in June 2012), Dave says a number of things come to mind:
“With my first record, the songs reflected what I was going through with the loss of my father at the time,” he says. “I steered away from that with my newest record. At the end of the day, though, my records reflect the kinds of things that each of us live through and deal with on a day-to-day basis. I like to think that the music I make is real and is something that others can relate to, the celebrations as well as the disappointments.
“With my first record, the songs flowed in a very natural way, where with my latest record, the bulk of the songs flowed naturally, but I also had to go back to the drawing board a couple of times. There were a few songs that I found weren’t quite up to par with the rest of the material. It has been a learning process for me, but it has been a great one. I am still developing as a writer and find it really neat to see how the concepts behind my songs are coming together.”
Article published in the January 27, 2013 edition of the Times & Transcript