(Disclaimer: This post is unlike any other I have ever written. Bear with me–it’s worth it.)
Have you heard of Dave Bidini? I hadn’t before last week.
Shame on me for not discovering him before. Or on whomever knew about him and didn’t tell me.
Dave and the BidiniBand are performing at the Bayfield Town Hall tonight (@ 8 pm–get your tickets at TicketScene.ca), and while I have loved every performer I’ve ever seen on that stage in the Bayfield Concert Series, I’m more excited about Dave Bidini’s appearance at The Village Bookshop before his show (@ 6 pm–casual book signing) (sorry, Pete).
Mr. Bidini is a musician. More than that, he’s a rocker. He’s a founding member of the Genie Award-winning Canadian band Rheostatics, a group that was together from 1980 to 2007 and which Wikipedia tells me was called both “iconic” and “iconoclastic.” Four of Dave’s ten books are about music. He and music have been inseparable for much of his life. But it’s not Dave’s music that fascinates me.
He has been performing longer than he has been publishing, but he has been writing longer than he has been playing guitar. When I asked him if one of these two intertwined vocations held more meaning for him than the other, he says “the two have been very close in terms of their evolution.” So no. He’s a writer and a rocker.
And a filmmaker and a playwright and a National Post columnist and a family man and a hockey player…
This man is ironically difficult to put into words. I say ironically because he is so prolific with words. So prolific that I hesitate to believe anything I write could even do him justice, let alone commend him to my community. I will give you my impression, and then encourage you to read what others have written, as well as Dave’s own words.
D: I think the pursuit of songwriting is a little bit deeper for me in that the reasons for creating, really simply, are reasons to stay alive, to keep moving. You almost write more out of fear, I think, than anything, when you have a sort of legacy or whatever.
The highest praise I can give Dave is to tell you that every article and book excerpt I have found convinces me to read another. He has a way with words, a voice like I have never seen before. He is at once frank and intellectual, silly and smart.
S: Fear of what?
D: I think the fear of artistic mortality, really. Also, the fear of one’s own achievements, the specter or the shadow of one’s achievements. It’s great that they exist, but also, as you get older, you want to try to do better, get stronger.
His deep, gravelly voice booms through my iPhone’s speaker, warm and rich and personal.
This man does nothing by halves, from attempting to redefine Canadian music with the Rheostatics, to relating sex and hockey in his project The Five Hole Series, to following our favourite sport around the world to Dubai, Transylvania, and Mongolia for his documentary film Hockey Nomad.
I can’t imagine this artist’s mortality getting in his way anytime soon.
D: I’ll be 49 in September, and …when it sort of comes to the realization that you’re closer to death than to birth, and [you think] of all of those miles and all of those words you’ve written and all of the art you’ve created, you’re aware of the weight of it. When you’re 24, you’re splashing around in a pool and you don’t really have anything to stand on. Now, I have something to stand on.
He has ten books, at least sixteen albums, a documentary, two plays, a column, and a brief stint as a CBC radio show host, to say nothing of a long history as a music and sports journalist, to stand on!
Today, I’m honoured that this icon of Canadiana will be standing on Huron County soil, in one of the best places to experience the best artists our country has to offer: Bayfield, Ontario.
D: Bayfield is one of those big small places. You would never really know it when you pull into town. That’s what makes it a super place.
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The BidiniBand’s latest record is In the Rock Hall (2012).
Read this fantastic Toronto Star article about Dave and the BidiniBand.
Dave’s book Baseballissimo is being made into a movie co-written with Jay Baruchel, who co-wrote the screenplay for the recent hockey movie Goon, and whom you might know as an actor from How to Train a Dragon, Knocked Up, and
She’s Out of my League.
Check out Dave on CBC’s Strombo show.
Watch Dave’s hockey documentary Hockey Nomad (follow the links for the rest of the parts).