“Gunning is the next big thing in the True North of Song, an artist as compelling, as assured and attentive to every nuance of the writing process, as Lightfoot, Cockburn and Stan Rogers before him.”- Toronto Star
Call it the silver lining in the cloud of a brutally cold Nova Scotia winter. When acclaimed folk singer/songwriter Dave Gunning decided it was time to make his 11th solo album, he found the bleak weather outside a blessing, not a curse. “We were literally snowed in, but the power was on and I was good to go,” he says of the making of that album, Lift.
In his well-appointed home studio in Pictou County, NS, Gunning went to work. The follow-up to 2012 album No More Pennies, Lift came together “very quickly and organically,” he explains. “I wanted to maintain an honest acoustic sound to reflect my live shows. I did what I could on my own then I brought in some guests to spread out the gene pool, so there was enough to keep the listeners interested.”
The record’s sparse and acoustic template proves to be the perfect vehicle for Dave’s neatly-crafted and poetic material and gently expressive vocals. There are no drums on the record, and Gunning handles much of the playing himself, contributing fluent acoustic guitar, upright bass (“the same one I used touring in Stompin’ Tom Connors’ band,” he notes with pride), highstring guitar, and banjo. Talented pals JP Cormier, Thom Swift, Jamie Robinson, Darren McMullen and Asa Brosius take effective cameos on different tracks.
Lift is actually Gunning’s first self-produced album. That’s a surprise, given that he has worked as a co-producer, recording engineer and mixer on albums by such top East Coast artists as Bruce and Dylan Guthro, JP Cormier, Steven Bowers, Buddy MacDonald, and Còig (who recently won an East Coast Music Award and Canadian Folk Award for their 2014 album Five, co-produced by Gunning). “I usually record and engineer my own albums but would get someone else to produce,” Dave explains. “For Lift, I put my big boy pants on and did it myself!” Those pants fit just fine here.
Eleven albums in, Dave Gunning has become a truly masterful songwriter, one who has earned real peer respect from such Canadian folk songwriting legends as Ron Hynes, David Francey, and James Keelaghan. “I grew up listening to people like Ron Hynes,” says Dave. “I look up to them but then it hits me sometimes that I’m their peer and they like my stuff too. It’s a weird headspace, flipping from being a fan to being a peer.”
Co-writing with his peers has had a major impact on Gunning. “The co-writing process has really helped my career, as it helps you keep the energy momentum going,” he explains. “Noted co-writers on Lift include Matt Andersen, Thom Swift, Catherine MacLellan, Jamie Robinson, plus American Sally Spring and Dave’s Pictou pals, Jim Dorie, John Meir, and Ray Stewart.
Unlike the assembly-line approach of Nashville writing sessions, there’s a spontaneous and relaxed approach to writing with Gunning that is reflected in the warmth of the material. One song here, “Alberta Gold” has already been something of a radio and video hit for Matt Andersen, who included it on his popular 2014 album Weightless. Gunning’s banjo-fuelled campfire singalong version is equally rousing in its depiction of the present-day migration of Maritimers to the Albertan oil patch.
The 13 songs on Lift cover refreshingly broad lyrical terrain. Story and character-based songs fit snugly alongside more personal material, and in true folk music tradition, some numbers could be considered protest songs. Gunning acknowledges that “this album has more personal and introspective songs than my past recordings. I do still love songs that are about things and tell a real story, like the songs of Stan Rogers. They inspire me.”
A fine example of that here is “I Robbed The Co. Store,” which tells the true story of a group of British settlers in Nova Scotia in the 1770s forced to steal from a storehouse reserved for troops just so they could feed their families. A more contemporary song with a Pictou County setting is “They Don’t Do That No More.” “That one is inspired by the fight we have here against a pulp mill that is just an environmental disaster,” explains Gunning. The mournful sound of the pedal steel punctuates his lament that “there’s poison on the harbour floor.” It’s a song one of Dave’s key inspirations, the late folk great Pete Seeger, would have been proud to call his own.
Another song, “Sing It Louder,” is actually a tribute to Seeger. “My goal was to write a song you could imagine him singing,” says Gunning. “As folk singers we should all aspire to carry the torch of Pete Seeger and his message of social justice.” Dave’s talents as a poetic lyricist are vividly displayed on the haunting “Breaker’s Yard” and the plaintive “Pasadena,” a co-write with Catherine MacLellan.
Though many of his songs remain rooted in the province Dave is proud to call home, they have proved they can travel well. A genuinely engaging performer and storyteller, he is now a fixture on the folk festival and club circuit in the rest of Canada and United States. An initial foray into Australia was well-received, and he is now planning a return tour in March 2016.
Gunning’s recording career is now approaching a full two decades in length (his debut album, Lost Tracks, came out in 1996). Along with richly-deserved peer respect, he has also earned a shelf full of music industry awards. That tally now stands at eight East Coast Music Awards and two Canadian Folk Music Awards, plus a 2012 Juno Award nomination in the Roots & Traditional Solo Album of the Year category for his album …a tribute to John Allan Cameron, a compelling homage to another of Dave’s Maritime musical heroes.
His songwriting skill has also been internationally recognized, with earlier tunes scoring victories and high placings in some major international songwriting competitions. As a fervent hockey fan, Gunning was also thrilled to win the CBC’s hotly-contested Hockey Night In Canada Song Quest in 2014 with “A Game Goin’ On,” a co-write with David Francey.
Give yourself a Lift and check out the work of an authentic artist at his creative peak.
|2014||Winner ECMA Songwriter of the Year (These Hands)
Winner ECMA Solo Recording of the Year (No More Pennies)
First Place Winner Great American Song Contest for his song, These Hands (co-written with George Canyon)
Winner CBC Hockey Night In Canada Song Quest for his song, A Game Goin’ On (co-written with David Francey)
ECMA Fans Choice Entertainer of the Year Nomination
ECMA Fans Choice Video of the Year, These Hands (Director: Scott Simpson) Nomination
|2013||Winner ECMA Song of the Year (These Hands)
ECMA Folk Recording of the Year Nomination (No More Pennies)
ECMA Fans Choice Entertainer of the Year Nomination
Music Nova Scotia Folk Recording of the Year Nomination (No More Pennies)
Semi – Finalist International Songwriting Competition (These Hands)
|2012||Juno Award Roots & Traditional Solo Album of the Year Nomination (a tribute to John Allan Cameron)
ECMA Nomination Entertainer of the Year
|2011||Winner Canadian Folk Music Award Traditional Singer of the Year (a tribute to John Allan Cameron)
Winner Canadian Folk Music Award Best New Emerging Artist of the Year
Winner ECMA Award Roots Traditional Solo Recording of the Year
Winner ECMA Award Producer of the Year (a tribute to John Allan Cameron)
Winner Music Nova Scotia Roots Traditional Recording of the Year
ECMA Folk Recording of the Year Nomination (We’re All Leaving)
ECMA Fans Choice Entertainer of the Year Nomination
ECMA Male Solo Recording of the Year Nomination (a tribute to John Allan Cameron)
Music Nova Scotia Male Artist Recording of the Year, Music Nova Scotia Producer of the Year, Music Nova Scotia Recording Studio of the Year Nomination (Wee House of Music)
|2010||Finalist Great American Song Contest (Before The Morning Sun)
ECMA Songwriter of the Year Nomination (Made On A Monday)
ECMA Male Solo Recording of the Year and FACTOR Recording of the Year Nomination (We’re All Leaving)
Music Nova Scotia Folk Recording of the Year, Male Artist of the Year, Entertainer of the Year Nomination and SOCAN Songwriter of the Year Nomination (We’re All Leaving)
|2009||Semi-Finalist International Songwriting Competition (Before The Morning Sun)
ECMA Entertainer of the Year Nomination
|2008||First Place Winner Folk Category Indie International Songwriting Contest (Hard Workin’ Hands)
Finalist USA Songwriting Competition (Hard Workin’ Hands)
Finalist International Songwriting Competition (Cowboy’s Dream)
Finalist John Lennon Songwriting Contest (Hard Workin’ Hands)
Winner ECMA Award Male Solo Recording of the Year (House For Sale)
Winner ECMA Award Folk Recording of the Year (House For Sale)
Winner Music Nova Scotia Award Studio Engineer of the Year
Music Nova Scotia Entertainer of the Year Nomination
Music Nova Scotia Folk Recording of the Year Nomination (House For Sale)
|2006||ECMA Nomination Male Artist of the Year
ECMA Nomination Album of the Year (Two-Bit World)
The Irish Music Magazine Readers Poll Song of the Year (New Highway)
|2005||ECMA Award Folk Recording of the Year (Two-Bit World)
ECMA Nomination Male Artist of the Year
First Place Winner Folk Category International Acoustic Music Awards(Prince of Pictou)
Music Nova Scotia Award Folk Recording of the Year (Two-Bit World)
Honourable mention USA Songwriting Competition (Prince of Pictou)
|2003||Music Nova Scotia Award Musician of the Year|
|2002||Music Nova Scotia Award Producer of the Year (Live)
Music Nova Scotia Award Engineer of the Year (Live)
Music Nova Scotia Award Studio of the Year (Riverfront Studio)
|2001||ECMA Nomination Roots/ Traditional Solo Recording of the Year (Caught Between Shadows)|
|1998||ECMA Nomination Roots/ Traditional Vocal (Lost Tracks)|
Dave Gunning’s at it again. Defining our lives, baring our souls, telling what it’s like on the East Coast these days, or for people from the East Coast. From retired railway men to hard-core hockey fans to those who’ve had to pack up and go to Alberta, Gunning’s speaking for them, telling their tales.
They’re rich in detail too. The old coal man in Coal From The Train is a rough sort of course, and don’t cross him when he’s drinking, but the song is really about helping out in a poor community. He knows poverty, has seen every inch of it passing by on the train his whole life, and is the first to dig deep when it comes to giving. It seems he always tossed coal from the pile when the train passed by the poor shacks on the line. Juno-winner David Francey, who has been spending a lot of time in the East the last year or so, co-writes and duets on A Game Goin’ On, the hockey number. For those who think the national game exists on Sports Desk and in hockey pools and sitting in $150 seats, the pair take us down to the pond in small town Canada, where the goal is a pair of frozen boots, and everybody brings a shovel to clear the ice. If the players stay locked out all year, its this type of thinking that will save the sport.
Today I think of all I know who have moved to Alberta or points west. We miss them, they miss us, and the ones I know still describe themselves as Maritimers or Newfoundlanders, even those whoe left three or four decades ago. Gunning’s Living In Alberta explains the dilemma; working in the oil sands isn’t like walking through the ocean sand. There’s money and new friends out west, but there’s the feeling he doesn’t belong: “I’m living in Alberta, dying to get back home.”
You wanna know what it’s like to be from the Maritimes? Buy a Dave Gunning album.
CBC – East Coast Living – Bob Mersereau
The well publicised rhubarb with the Royal Canadian Mint should not overshadow the value of this quite perfect album. Gunning writes like a dream, grabbing the listener with a foolscap of lines that are as tight as the planks on a fisherman`s dory and as colourful as a Newfoundland outport. True, he has co-written a number of the songs with a literary club that includes George Canyon, David Francey, Bruce Guthro and Lennie Gallant, but make no mistake it`s Gunning`s album all the way. A gentle reflectiveness pervades throughout …Pennies with the Maritimer spinning stories that are delivered with a voice dripping melancholy, remorse, ardor and empathy. “With These Hands“, a soft-spoken message of hope in a world gone mad, has been launched with a video, but if one is to pick one song from this album it has to be `The Weight of My Guitar. If this doesn`t pluck your interest, “That`s When We Fell“ will.
“John Allan was Dave’s first major influence and not only was John Allan’s hero, he was his friend. It is now quite fitting that Dave put together many of John Allan’s songs on his own CD in tribute to his hero. The CD contains17 tracks, all done by Dave to perfection. He tried to keep close to John Allan’s music as much as possible, although no one can come close to John Allan’s distinctive voice, says Dave. Atlantic Seabreeze cannot say enough of favourable comments regarding this fine CD, and gives high ratings for the CD on its rating list”.
Atlantic Seabreeze *****
“Move ahead to present day. John Allan has passed on (always remembered and always missed), and the student takes the opportunity to create a tribute to his hero. It’s a CD of some of John Allan’s best know work, lovingly recorded by Dave and his friends, many of whom were also friends with John Allan.
Sound The Pibroch, Freeborn Man, The Four Marys, Butterfingers Medley and so on, most carefully recreated but some with newer arrangements, and a few others that may not seem connected until you dig deeper. Dave does the vocals, backed up by friends of John Allan’s like Allie Bennett, JP Cormier, Pee Wee Charles and John Allan’s son Stuart, along with a host of other guests along to pay tribute in their own way. Dave Gunning’s A Tribute to John Allan Cameron, is a complete package. If you’re either a fan of John Allan’s or a fan of Dave’s, this CD should be in your collection”.
The Cape Breton Post
“Truly, Dave Gunning’s great track record remains unbroken and unsullied with this recording. It’s a great collection from a musician who continues to grow and thrive”.
“Dave Gunning delivers a winner….We’re All Leaving is a memorable almost thematic collection of songs, one that will undoubtedly see Gunning reap further Canadian folk music awards”.
UK Country Music People ****
“It is that sense of intimacy through his writing, and his performances that makes Gunning an absolutely intriguing performer to watch and listen to”.
The Newfoundland Herald
“The Galaxie Folk/ Roots Channel’s most-played, high rotation album releases for December 2009- January 2010”.
Galaxie, The Continuous Music Network
“There was something about those original songs that led me to believe this somewhat shy, unassuming young man with the easy-rolling baritone voice had some very real talent. There was an honesty and a beautiful simplicity to those early songs. Inspired by people and places in his life that had special meaning to him, they were heartfelt and moving. It’s encouraging, all these years later, to see those qualities that first impressed me and many others are still present in Gunning’s latest work, We’re All Leaving.
The Guardian ****
“Dave Gunning is from Nova Scotia in Canada which has excellent European and wordly folk traditions at the heart of its fine music scene. Gunning also adds some American heartland songwriting style in music.
The music is smooth, smart and inviting. Just when I am uncertain of whether it reminds me too much of what I have heard before, he tosses in a guitar line or melodic twist in the vocals to push his song to a higher level. He has a very enjoyable voice and the band is solid throughout. I liked that he put a storytelling song like “Before The Morning Sun” in between more general songs. Everything is balanced nicely, both within the songs and within the album as a whole. Folk –rock fans should give this one a listen”.
“It’s a star-studded affair, but at the centre of it all is Gunning with his sparse folk sound and crystal clear lyrics that have made him a popular name along the east coast and into the U.S. and Europe over the last few years”.
“Dave Gunning is a rising star in Canadian acoustic music. He’s the full package”.
“This incredible album contains 11 songs, all of which he wrote with several co-writers. His ability to tell a story in his songs has resulted in six Music Nova Scotia awards and three East Coast Music Awards in the past, and now with this new CD, there will be no exceptions. A number of Canada’s finest composers helped Dave to write all the songs and include; Jamie Robinson, John Meir, James Keelaghan, David Francey, Rose Cousins and Karine Polwart”.
Atlantic Seabreeze *****
“Continuing in the grand footsteps of other east coast singer-songwriters such as Bruce Guthro, Gordie Sampson and Lennie Gallant, Nova Scotian Dave Gunning scores a winner with his seventh record, We’re All Leaving. Resting comfortably somewhere in the territory between folk, country and roots music, fans of Atlantic Canadian music won’t be long picking up on Gunning’s masterful song writing on tracks like The Color Of Gone, Made On A Monday, There’s A Song In There and We’re All Leaving”.
“One of the songs closest to Gunning’s heart is Big Shoes, a tribute to legendary performers John Allen Cameron and Stan Rogers…:.
“Dave is one of Canada’s finest songwriter’s: the way his eye sees things upon the land, the way his ear hears the voices of his people, his respect for those who have gone before, and his love of life in the land he loves, is beautifully portrayed in gentle verse and rhyme. He is not a man you meet everyday, he cares, and it shows in his music, both poetic and pointed”.
CFCY, the Eric MacEwen Show
“He’s become one of my favourite new writers”
Ron Hynes, Newfoundland Songwriter & Recording Artist
“… one of the rising stars in Canadian roots music”.
“Gunning’s musicality shone in the same way right from the first to the end of the show — always innovative guitar chording to accompany a voice that stood out like a finely-tuned old piano, perfect in pitch, delicate and weathered when called for, but strong and pure, refined in its years of melody flowing through it”.
“While Nova Scotia based singer/songwriter Dave Gunning has been picking up great press in Canada for his consistently excellent writing and performing, this new album ‘House for Sale’ looks like it will bring him much wider recognition – it’s full of well crafted songs and has an effortless folk/country feel that will engage listeners the world over.
Like many Canadian singer/songwriters, his work is a mixture of various North American styles, the intelligent lyrics and stories of the East Coast, mix with memorable melodies and there’s a subtle Country twang evident in places, it’s a strong mix that makes the album immediately accessible without sounding derivative.
Most of the 11 songs are based around Gunning’s acoustic guitar, and there’s a tight and compact band that provide the backing which includes bass, percussion, mandolin, dobro and Hammond. Where the disc excels is in the quality of the writing – he paints pictures both with his lyrics and the arrangements, the title track is full of strong imagery that really adds to the feel of the song, ‘Hard Workin’ Hands’ has a genuine gritty and proud feel that shines through, and ‘These Roads’ is a classic singer/songwriter ‘road song’ that explores the writers’ relationship with constant traveling.
‘House for Sale’ is a really strong contemporary singer/songwriter album full of well crafted songs and instant melodies, and is an album that with the right breaks, and word of mouth will gain much wider recognition. Highly recommended”.
Fish Records, UK
“The album’s lead single, Cowboy’s Dream (co-written by Dave Gunning with George Canyon) is simply an outstanding piece of songwriting. The song addresses the laments of a rodeo rider… and is reminiscent of Ian Tyson’s Someday Soon classic. Gunning’s delivery of the song is quite powerful, and country radio has given it some solid airplay”.
Country Music News
“This is a lovely CD, relaxed and laid-back, mostly folk in styling but sometimes with strong country overtones and the occasional touch of Celtic. There is enough up-tempo material to break it up nicely, particularly the spirited Colleen Malone”.
Cape Breton Post
“Gunning took the classic storyteller route, singing songs from his fifth album, House for Sale, that were freighted with the folklore of his native Nova Scotia. A gifted guitarist and a witty raconteur, he prompted much merriment as he spun the story of a young boy’s Christmas Day, blighted by the mysterious fact that Santa had drunk all his dad’s beer”.
The Times, UK.
“House For Sale, continues to impress with its honesty and his gently enthralling no-nonsense tales of local legends and historical events as well as his directly-expressed relationship songs”.
Net Rhythms, UK
No More Pennies (September 2012)
Christmas Too (2011)
a tribute to John Allan Cameron (2010)
We’re All Leaving (2009)
House For Sale (2007)
Dave Gunning Christmas (2006)
Two-bit World (2004)
Dave Gunning Live (2002)
Caught Between Shadows (2000)
Lost Tracks (1996)
Candles & Evergreens (2008) recorded with George Canyon
Compilations: Atlantic Standards 2 CD (2006) featuring “Here She Comes A Running (from Caught Between Shadows)released by Warner Music Canada
Borrowed Tunes 2: A Canadian Tribute to Neil Young featuring ” A Dream That Can Last” released by Universal Music Canada
Television: TV show “Trailer Park Boys” playing the role of the forest ranger (summer 2007) broadcast on the Showcase Network
Tel: (902) 876-8987
Tel: (705) 523-6200
Robyn Boyd, Wooden Ship Productions
Tel: (518) 392- 5372