Origin: Dartmouth, Nova Scotia
In song, Canadian singer/songwriter Dave Carroll captures elusive shades of shadow and light. His latest CD, Perfect Blue is much more than a balance of introspective songs and rollicking rhythms; it is a culmination of gigs performed, miles traveled, characters encountered and life lived.
Dave Carroll, who calls himself “a late bloomer,” began his musical career in college. In a duo with his brother Don as the popular Sons of Maxwell, the pair recorded eight CD’s of over 40 of Dave’s original pop/country songs, won numerous East Coast Music Awards (ECMA’s) and built a sizeable fan base through worldwide tours. As a solo artist, Dave’s recordings have been honored with multiple ECMA’s, a first place win in the Unisong International Song Contest and finalist standing in the John Lennon Songwriting Contest. Long before the trend became common, both the band and Dave operated as independent, self-managed artists. While these career trajectories might be under the radar of the traditional music industry, a continued commitment and connection to audiences has remained an unbroken link in an ever-lengthening chain.
Kudos and credits notwithstanding, it was a broken Taylor guitar that made Dave Carroll an international celebrity. When United Airlines baggage handlers tossed his beloved instrument and refused to accept responsibility, Carroll retaliated with “United Breaks Guitars,” the first in a trilogy of songs that were to become immense YouTube hits with over nine million views. The story broke from CNN to The New York Times to Rolling Stone, and culminated with Dave’s appearance on The View with Whoopi Goldberg, Joy Behar, Elisabeth Hasselbeck and Sherri Shepherd. “Music is the only thing I’ve been doing to make a living for years,” says Dave. “I’ve never had a day job, so by that definition I’ve been successful. But as an indie artist it is tough to make your way – so this is my record deal, my chance of stepping up.”
Dave has completed his first tour of his ancestral homeland, Ireland, with performances at the Bronte Music Club, the Belfast Nashville Festival, McGrory’s in Donegal and the Seamus Ennis Cultural Centre in Dublin. “I started out playing out a lot of Irish pubs with Sons of Maxwell,” he explains, “ getting the crowd behind the music through that Irish style of strong melodies and hooks.”
For companies preferring to not have grievances aired in song through social media, Dave has a new career as a public speaker. He spoke in Washington DC at a U.S. Congressional Passenger’s Bill of Rights hearing for leaders and lawmakers, delivered the keynote address at the Right Now Technologies North American Summit and will be featured at Brite, a conference presented by the Columbia Business School Center on Global Brand Leadership at the end of March.
The guitar has long since been repaired. Taylor Guitars, grateful for the publicity, has given Dave some new models. And with the release of the Perfect Blue, the silver strings resonate with the power of new songs. “Some people might naturally think I’m a one trick pony, or the ‘Weird Al’ of customer service,” says Dave. “But there’s a lot more beneath the surface for people who choose to look for it.” Substance and spirit are in equal measure in the gothic shadows of “Free as a Sparrow” from Perfect Blue. Says Dave, “I wrote it with no expectations or obligations. The idea just spilled out. In the Bible and in mythology, it is a bird that can transcend heaven and earth.” Another song, “Now,” extols the idea of staying present as revealed in Eckhart Tolle’s The Power of Now. The best-selling author described Dave’s words and music as, “… a song that invites us beyond the pain of the past into the Freedom of the Now.”
“The Average Man,” a character study of someone who walks the middle ground is one of Dave’s favorites, “But I’m shocked at my friends who hear it and think it’s about them. It’s that Canadian thing – we walk around with complexes that we’re average.” In writing songs, he says that the melody is “always ahead of the lyrics.” Three of these new songs were co-written in Nashville with Bernie Chiaravalle (Michael McDonald, Larry Carlton), Grammy winner Jon Vezner (Reba McIntire, Faith Hill) and Canadian Steve Fox (Montgomery Gentry.)
Dave communicates via email with listeners from all over the world who are connected to him through his songs. “I don’t spoon feed messages,” he notes. “I hope my songs allow listeners to look inward to find their own meanings. I think listening to a song is like reading a book as opposed to going to the movie. The book is always better, because your imagination fills in the colors. Musically, it’s the same for me. I think I’m at my best when I’m connecting with the people I’m performing to, and as a writer, when I’m finding the essence.”