"Handbuilt Americana and Scorching Southern Rock that channels
some James Gang Twang - Dixiebluebird holds fire
true in a world
of trend chasing replicators"           
- Americana Reviews - The Netherlands



Invokes the spirit of early Whiskeytown and a Twangier Wilco.
As far as Canadian roots music goes "Dixiebluebird" is a strong
candidate for album of the year.     
- Leeroy Stagger - Artsbridge Magazine

 

"Motorhead-meets-Merle Haggard- Rocks like some
Crackling 70s Outlaw Classic and would be top forty
in a saner universe"
      - Richard Thornley (Penguin Eggs Magazine) Canada

 

"A Canadian who delivers honest hillbilly music that's
more country than much of the pasturized schlock coming out
of major-label Music Row these days."

              
-Clay Steakley (Performing Songwriter Magazine) Nashville Tennessee


"the perfect antidote to the plastic world in which
most of us live."
               - Michael Mee (NetRhythms Roots Press) London UK

The Evolution of an Artist
Interview for Artsbridge Magazine

Published April 2010 by Leeroy Stagger © Artsbridge

Dave McCann is the latest full time musician to move to our little piece of heaven out on the prairies.
Dave's had a busy year with the release of his third studio Album "Dixiebluebird". His latest offering
saw Dave and his band do the Canadian unheard of and head South to Nashville to record with Rodney
Crowell sideman Will Kimbrough. The result is an 11 song masterpiece that invokes the spirit of early
Whiskeytown and a Twangier Wilco. As far as Canadian roots music goes "Dixiebluebird" is a strong
candidate for album of the year.

 

You moved to Lethbridge from Calgary a little while back, how do you find the transition from a major city
to here and how do you find the music scene different if any?

Any jump in location is hard. Calgary is a major player in the world economy and that brings alot of easy money to the music community. I miss that sometimes. I miss being close to an airport. I miss my friends. Calgary’s always been good to me.
But as far as big cities go, I’ve always kinda found them cold and distracting. Calgary’s no different. If you’re not careful
you’ll wake up with a tiny, shrunken, corporate grinch heart. Lethbridge feels good - it feels like I’ve come home.

I think this is your 3rd studio album?, you decided to record in Nashville TN, what prompted that decision
and what affect did it have on the songs and the sound of this record?

I had my list of producers I wanted to work with: Jack White, Buddy Miller, Colin Linden, Larry Campbell, Will Kimbrough,
Eric Roscoe Ambel, etc. Buddy was busy till 2011. Charlie Sexton and Ethan Johns’ management blew me off with hundred thousand dollar offers? The Canadians didn’t even get back to me? Time alignment was such a huge factor.

I wanted this project to be about chasing the heart of American music. Where it comes from? Why it exists? I wanted to experiment with the idea of geographic influence. When it came down to the music, I wanted to see how, or if at all, New York, Los Angeles, Austin or Nashville would affect final outcome of the songs. So when Will Kimbrough called and said he was into
the songs, and had a studio picked out in East Nashville, that’s when it all fell into place.

Alot of my favorite recordings were cut in Nashville. It has such a wild musical history, a real strange magic. You could feel it
right off, the South - the idea that this place is one of the mythical origins of the Blues, Country and Rock and Roll. You can’t
help but let that kinda stuff just seep into the music.

What Role did Will play as the producer, did he change much of what you brought to him?

Will has released a pile of great recordings himself so he knows music firsthand - besides working with major level guys and staying grounded on the indy scene. He’s an amazing in-demand Guitar Sideguy, Songwriter, Session player and Producer.
He’s worked with Rodney Crowell, Todd Snider, Mavis Staples, Jimmy Buffet, Garrison Starr, Matthew Ryan, and Josh Rouse - including producing a Grammy-nominated record by Adrienne Young, and Todd Snider’s East Nashville Skyline which he co produced with Todd. He has such a deep grasp on Americana roots music scene. After talking to him over the phone I was excited to work with him.

He’s a pretty humble guy and his musical intuition is so incredible. We burned 12 hour days away for two weeks and at the end
of it we walked away with the record we wanted to make. It wasn’t tyranical. He didn’t change decisions. He didn’t change arrangements. He let us find the feel and helped us build on that. And above that he made us laugh. He’s got a wicked, fast paced sence of humour and he really helped us keep it light in the studio.

Finding a studio environment that fostered creative output is sometimes tough. He lined us up with Elijah Shaw at the Toy Box, which was incredible. He brought out a pile of gear for us and he offered us a list of studio players including Pedal Steel Legend Al Perkins (Gram Parsons, Manassas), and he even tryed to hunt down retired piano legend Hargus Pig Robbins for us. All in all, he helped us make the best record we could make.

With “Dixiebluebird” your voice seems stronger and more defined than ever, do feel the same way? What gives?

That’s the evolution of an artist, I guess. You keep building, refining, redefining yourself. When you’re involved in projects that interest you, and you commit your full ability towards that journey, you just find more strength in the act of creating. Your art,
your life, your voice... or whatever - it just becomes stronger. That’s how it was with Dixiebluebird for me. I knew what I wanted and committed.

Nashville Skyline
Dave McCann brings Dixiebluebird back to Alberta

Published October 8, 2009 by Mary-Lynn Wardle in Music Previews © FFWD Calgary

It has been five years since Alberta songwriter Dave McCann released his last studio album, 2004’s Country Medicine, which was the followup to 2000’s Woodland Tea. While five years might seem like a long time between albums, McCann did release an acclaimed live album, Shoot the Horse, last year. During those five years, also moved from Calgary to Lethbridge, got married to wife Shannan Little and celebrated the birth of his son Kieran. Oh yeah, and during all these minor events, McCann and his band travelled to East Nashville’s Toybox Studio and recorded an album, Dixiebluebird. In the past year, everything seems to have changed in McCann’s life, even the name of his band, from The Ten-Toed Frogs (“too much of a tongue-twister for drunken people who wandered up to me in bars”) to The Firehearts.

Well, not quite everything. The 11 tracks on Dixiebluebird are pure, vintage McCann- gritty shelter for sensitive melodies, acoustic music seasoned with fearless guitar laid bare, staying out of the way of uncluttered phrases containing a universe of truth in a handful of words. McCann creates the kind of music that has a habit of finding its way back to the top of your CD pile, back into the console of your truck years after you first fell in love with it.

One of the first things that hits you is how the musicians — longtime guitarist Dave Bauer, bassist Pete Loughlin, drummer Tim Williams and steel player Charlie Hase- seem to breathe as one beast, reflecting the uncountable years and miles the band has travelled.

“We have never had a rehearsal,” McCann says. “We have just so many years of playing together and just doing shows. And really, my favourite music doesn’t sound rehearsed. When I think about my favourite songs, there is that spark of spontaneity to them. When we recorded our last album, it was live, and I talked to one person who said, ‘Whatever you do, don’t make this sound like The Eagles, man. It will sound like a bland studio recording that has clapping in it.’ We didn’t really spend a lot of time fixing anything. That’s part of making it work — just record it and don’t spend a lot of time fixing it.”

That’s just how the band made Dixiebluebird, by finding producer Will Kimbrough and laying down what they had lived for during the past 10 years. While McCann considered locations like New York and Los Angeles for recording, Nashville-based Kimbrough signed the deal to make the album. McCann says that frustratingly, Canadian producers wouldn’t even return his phone calls and when they did, they priced their studios out of the market.

While McCann was offered the cream of studio musicians to use on his album, he chose to go with his tried-and-true Firehearts. They drove and flew to Nashville, a town haunted by its legends and failures, but fat chance of the band finding the time to suck up a little history. Instead, for two weeks they were in the studio from 10 a.m. until 11 p.m. daily.

“Essentially we were stuck in East Nashville for the whole time just in the Toybox studio,” McCann says. “But the music history alone in Nashville, all these strange obscure bands that I love and great albums that I love were recorded in Nashville,” he says, citing Doug Dillard and Gene Clark’s The Fantastic Expedition, Bob Dylan’s Blonde on Blonde and Neil Young’s Harvest. “It was good to go and see it and have that sort of history rub off on you.”

“That’s what was great about Nashville. In East Nashville, where all the artists and writers live, it’s this cool little obscure hip side of town. Then you go to Nashville itself and it’s the history of country music and it’s all these people who don’t write the songs but are standing in the spotlight singing other people’s songs. It’s the illusion.”