PICTOU: “I thought these were just going to be demos – so I was pretty relaxed about it. But I played them for some buddies and they convinced me to release them [as an album]. I added the strings and the piano here and there – it’s very acoustic and has a consistency in its sound from stem to stern.”
Pictou County’s Dave Gunning is currently on tour, promoting the release of his newest folk album “Up Against the Sky.”
He is wrapping up a series of performances with the Philadelphia Folk Festival, in the United States, before the tour take him to Ontario and returns him to locals throughout Atlantic Canada, this Fall.
Gunning is enthusiastic about being back at home in the Maritimes next month.
“The tour has been great. There are 15 or more shows in September throughout Atlantic Canada. The CD has only really been out for a couple of months, so I’m just trying to get it out there. I’m really looking forward to being in Port Hawkesbury, haven’t played there in a couple of years.”
Gunning says in terms of song choice during the performances, he is mixing it up for the audience.
“I’ll be doing some stuff from the new record; but it won’t all be new. People still want to hear certain songs from previous recordings. I can’t go out there and not sing ‘These Hands’ and some of those songs.”
Gunning feels that “Up Against the Sky” has a slightly different flavour, compared to previous CDs.
“I think there is a greater message of optimism. Acknowledgment of the passage of time. It’s about things you’ve done in your life – that have created a series of events. A need to enjoy what’s going to happen and be proud of it, rather than stress about it.”
In terms of sound, Gunning utilized a different approach during the recording process. He feels this created a textured, more vintage quality to the album of which he says he is quite proud.
“There wasn’t the ability to go back and edit so much. It’s very honest in that regard. The drums, for example, there are only two mics on them, there is a bit of a rawness, it gives a different quality. You get to hear the room – the way you would in the recordings of the past. I thought that was kind of a fun way to do it and it translated well to vinyl. I have been getting a lot of requests to put the music out on vinyl, so we did that. I will have some of those with me too [on the tour], hopefully when I get to Port Hawkesbury.”
Gunning credits long-time friend and fellow musician J.P. Cormier for playing a large part in inspiring the direction of the album.
“He played fiddle on ‘Celebrate the Crop’, but it was more than that. When I set out to record this- and I thought that they were just going to be demos- it was mostly J.P. who heard it and said, ‘Put it out just like this, don’t re-record’. So, I think he liked the rawness in it too.”
This fall, after completion of the current tour, Gunning intends to take a breather before returning to writing and mapping out his next project. He adds he and Cormier are making plans to embark on a provincial Christmas tour, for the month of December.
“This would be the second consecutive year. We tried it last year and it was so much fun. At Christmas-time, people really like to come out and hear some music. Personally, it’ll be nice to be on home soil for the season.”
Gunning will take the stage at the Shannon Studio in Port Hawkesbury on September 21st at 7:30 pm.