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Dave Clark and His Woodshed Orchestra

Joel Barnhart
February 02, 2011



I mentioned in my second article a few months back that I live above a bar downtown, The Merchant Ale House (henceforth to be referred to as The Merch). In that article, I said that usually when bands play, I just ignore them from above. This isn't always the case, however. There is one band that I will go down to see every time they play. That band is Dave Clark and His Woodshed Orchestra.

The first time I'd seen Dave Clark, he was actually performing with the Woodchoppers Association and Jah Youssouf. That was an incredible show, the combination of the African instruments and musical style mixed with a western big band feel was unlike anything I'd ever heard.

Since then, he's played the Merch with the Woodshed Orchestra several times, and I've been there for every show. The first thing you notice when walking into the Merch when they're playing is the atmosphere. They bring small lamps with them, the kind that you would find in any house, and place them around the front of the bar, creating a very homey feeling, almost as if you're sitting comfortably in your living room as they perform for you.

The Woodshed Orchestra consists of your standard drum, guitar and bass combo, along with a keyboardist and a horn section. They perform fun, catchy songs about everything from sex to love to not caring about Tiger Woods' infidelities. They encourage the audience to join in singing and dancing, sometimes even handing out tickets to shows and events for the best dancers in the crowd.

Dave Clark himself is very versatile as a musician. With the Woodshed Orchestra, he mainly plays drums and sings, occasionally switching to piano as someone else takes over drum duties. In addition to his role in the band, he is a multi-instrumentalist, Gemini Award winning composer, music educator, author, poet, producer and audio mastering engineer.

He has performed with such diverse artists as the Rheostatics, The Dinner is Ruined, Jah Youssouf of Mali, West Africa, Neil Peart of Rush fame, Gord Downie of the Tragically Hip, mezzo soprano Jean Stillwell, The Nihilist Spasm Band, among others, and co-created sound track music for the movie Naked in New York, presented by Martin Scorsese. He also teaches music out of his Toronto, Ontario studio.

They usually play the Merch once every couple of months, so next time they're in town, I highly recommend checking them out. They're a unique band that promises good music and fun times in a relaxing environment. Add to that the beers that the Merch brews in house, if you don't have a good time, you're probably a robot.

You can check out the Woodchopper's Association at woodchoppers.com