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A decade in the making

It's been over a decade since Dave Haddock went solo. Now, the Whitehorse singer-songwriter is back with a new release that he'll showcase tonight at the Yukon Arts Centre. Talk To Me is his latest collection of songs, with upbeat and jangly folk tunes.

It’s been over a decade since Dave Haddock went solo.

Now, the Whitehorse singer-songwriter is back with a new release that he’ll showcase tonight at the Yukon Arts Centre.

Talk To Me is his latest collection of songs, with upbeat and jangly folk tunes alongside more introspective blues and roots numbers.

“Why the gap? Just life, I guess,” said Haddock. “It just took that long for the songs to gather,”

While Haddock didn’t intend to wait 11 years between releases (Keep It Simple came out in 2002), it’s also not unusual. The Yukon musician wears many hats: he’s a bandleader for multiple acts, a musical director for theatre productions, and he occasionally moonlights as an actor.

His first record dropped in 1996. Haddock says he just likes to let the songs come as they may, rather than churning them out at a certain pace.

“I’ve always been sort of ambivalent about the music industry, the music business,” he said.

“My ambitions have never really been focused on making a product and having stuff to sell or being on the road.”

But time has changed Haddock’s perspective on some things. For starters, he’s not so wary of the road anymore.

“I’m not a huge fan of being on the road, but my perspective is shifting a little bit now that I’m older and a little more independent. But now I’m feeling like I can take a few steps and maybe get out there with this one, maybe do a (local) tour or something,” he said.

Time has influenced his writing as well.

One of the most interesting songs on the record is John’s River, the tale of two rough characters, a murderer and a thief, and a misbegotten adventure. It’s a story song, which Haddock, now in his 50s, isn’t accustomed to writing. But it’s also about moving on in life and having to look at aging and death straight in the face.

“At some point you have to come to terms with that, whatever that means. And there’s also an obscure, sort of funny, little story in there,” he said.

He didn’t set out to write a narrative piece, Haddock said. It just sort of came from nowhere.

“It seems to hold together well, even if you don’t know exactly what it’s about. It sort of evolves, in terms of what it means to you, when I’m singing it,” he said.

The album title track is a jaunty, almost poppy number reminiscent of Jimmy Buffet, with just a little bit of rock-and-roll crunch.

From there it moves into a funky, halting blues song called Goin’ Back to Church. It feels a lot like the stuff Haddock does with his band, the Working Dogs.

Haddock’s musical personality is split. The Working Dogs is his serious folk-roots world. His other band, Big Soul, is an expression of rhythm and blues, soul and funk. The idea, he said, is to get as many people on their feet as possible.

His solo work is a bit more personal and thoughtful, though it still has plenty of fun, playful rhythms and bass walks to enjoy.

Haddock grew up in Vancouver, spending a lot of time on the city’s beaches and in the endowment lands forest near the University of British Columbia. But he’s also a northerner through and through. He moved to Whitehorse when he was 18 and has remained here most of his life.

The music scene here has been incredibly supportive, Haddock said, which is part of why he stayed.

While his music doesn’t have an overtly Yukon sound, he said he loves the idea of spaces and geography influencing the music he produces.

“If I’d written this same record with the same songs in a different place, it would sound totally different,” he said.

That theme is something he hopes to explore further in an ongoing workshop series that he’s been part of.

All The Way In is a collection of 16 singers and vocalists who gather at different, sometimes exotic, locales to work with music singer Rhiannon (not to be confused with pop sensation Rihanna, Haddock jokes).

“We get together and work on things like vocal games and round singing. It’s all about spontaneous music creation,” Haddock said.

The group has already been to Hawaii and California, and will be off to Montreal next. Haddock said he loves travelling for the workshops, because it allows him to see and explore how a sense of place influences what he comes up with.

Haddock will present Talk To Me tonight at 8 p.m. at the Yukon Arts Centre. For a full band sound, he’ll be backed up by Jordy Walker, Lonnie Powell, Micah Smith and Andrea McColeman. Tickets are available at the box office or at Arts Underground for $20.

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