PORT HAWKESBURY: This month, two well-known Canadian folk musicians will join forces for an evening of original songs and storytelling.
Dave Gunning and James Keelaghan will appear together at the Port Hawkesbury Civic Centre as part of the duo’s Canada 150 Performance Series tour.
“I feel more at home playing on Cape Breton Island than I do anywhere probably,” said Gunning, a Pictou County singer-songwriter who is no stranger to the local music scene. “What’s going to be different about this show is that it’s James and I playing together.”
Gunning has 11 solo albums and eight East Coast Music Awards to his credit. He is also the recipient of two Canadian Folk Music Awards. Currently, he is recording a new album and maintains a busy touring schedule. Although he has travelled widely, he says that the musical culture of Nova Scotia has had a lasting influence on his music.
“Being from Pictou County, Cape Breton has always felt like home to me. A lot of music that I was inspired by as a young kid growing up was Cape Breton music, like John Allan Cameron and all that,” said Gunning.
Gunning also draws inspiration from the creativity of other singer-songwriters. He began his collaboration with Calgary-born James Keelaghan at a Celtic Colours Festival songwriters’ workshop in 2008. Gunning and Keelaghan, along with several other musicians, were gathered together in Baddeck and tasked with writing eight new songs for the festival.
“The goal was to write eight songs and we ended up writing 21 songs. We sang them all at a church in Sydney,” said Gunning. “That was the first time I’d really worked with James.”
Over the years, the two musicians have continued to draw inspiration from each other, writing music and sometimes touring together.
“I’ve always loved James’ music. He’s an incredible songwriter and just a great guy,” said Gunning. “He’s so much fun to be around and joke with, and we’ve written some songs together, so we’re really looking forward to this.”
The show will feature vocal and acoustic guitar performances by Gunning and Keelaghan. Gunning says audiences can expect to hear music that is inspired by country and folk music traditions but is uniquely Canadian, reflecting the roots of the two musicians. The duo will be joined by Allie Bennett on bass.
The performance will be held at the Port Hawkesbury Civic Centre’s Shannon Studio on January 18 at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are available at the Civic Centre box office and on-line at: www.phcivic.com.