Dave McCann
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Dave McCann

Lethbridge, Alberta, Canada | SELF

Lethbridge, Alberta, Canada | SELF
Band Americana Singer/Songwriter


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Dave McCann @ All Upcoming Shows Listed at www.davemccann.com

None, Alberta, Canada

None, Alberta, Canada

Dave McCann @ Edmonton Folk Fest w/Levon Helm, Calexico, Ian Tyson and More

Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

Dave McCann @ Edmonton Folk Fest w/Levon Helm, Calexico, Ian Tyson and More

Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

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

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.” - FFWD

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. - Artsbridge

In the eight years since Dave McCann and his killer band, The Ten Toed Frogs, released their debut CD Woodland Tea, McCann has become firmly entrenched in the western Canadian roots scene.

Take a quick scan through the accolades McCann and crew have received in the press in Canada and abroad, and you'll find terms such as folk, alt-country and Americana tossed around left and right.

Surprisingly though, he didn't necessarily aim specifically for the sound he has since mastered.

"I think immediate inspiration comes from classic rock. I've always been a fan of it," says McCann. "If you grew up in Canada, you had two choices in the bar, listen to classic rock or listen to country."

In the end, it seems he ended up being influenced by both to a degree.

While his band does mix acoustic guitars with a tough, growling electric sound that puts teeth in many of his songs, there's a definite rural feel, a front-porch yearning for clear skies and dirt roads, a quest for backwoods simplicity that surely wasn't born on asphalt.

Born, no. But the Peterborough, Ont., native's output was definitely pavement-honed.

"I ended up hitching out here to Calgary a couple of times and busking on the streets," McCann recalls.

"You'd be playing on Electric Avenue and some guy beside you would be getting his head kicked in. I was lucky to be influenced by the folk and early rock of the '60s -- to play that stuff on the street is relatively easy and you improve from there."

Improve he did, eventually playing Cowtown clubs and kicking out his first CD. Then came another, Country Medicine and eventually his 2005 masterpiece Shoot the Horse.

Despite McCann being the principal songwriter with a strong, plaintive voice that perfectly suits titles such as Grain Car and Country Medicine, "his masterpiece" isn't a fair term.

The Ten Toed Frogs are a force to be reckoned with on their own, building songs upon a solid rhythm section and propelling them forward with plenty of excellent telecaster work and pedal steel.

Shoot the Horse is proof.

It's particularly impressive the entire album was recorded live, no second chances, in Edmonton's much-loved, now defunct Side Track Cafe.

Even better, it's a good indicator of what people can expect when McCann and his frogs take the stage at the Ironwood Stage and Grill tonight.

And as far as music goes, the stage is the only thing that really matters to him.

The music industry might be gnashing its teeth and chasing its tail in frenzy over CD sales, downloading and myriad other issues, but it all makes no difference to McCann.

"A CD is just a snapshot of a time and place. And if they steal it, that's sort of a good thing, a compliment" he says.

"It still recycles itself back to the live performance. It's something incredible and you can sneak in, you can get on the guest list, but you can't steal it." - RICK OVERWATER - Fri, September 26, 2008

Dave McCann is 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. Woodland Tea is replete with harmonica, mandolin, banjo, jaw harp, pedal steel, and fiddle, and it clambers about in a Canadian/Appalachian hiterland somewhere between the surly twang of Steve Earle and Southern Gothic darkness of 16 Horsepower.

The sonic range of the songs is wide, but always appropriate. The creepy, scraping fiddle of the instrumental "Muskellunge" and the honky, percussive banjo of "Where'd I Turn Wrong Blues" intergrate easily with the old time feel of "Pocket of Love" and the straight-on alt/country of Left Behind."

McCann and the Ten Toed Frogs are too soulful and tasteful to fall by the country wayside. Their inteligent use of pedal steel and mandolin and mandolin is always purposeful and never a crutch, and McCann's lyrics are accessible and traditional with out being hackneyed or borrowed. Woodland Tea is sometimes dark and sometimes twangy, but it is consistenly true and well executed.

- Clay Steakley

It's not that Canadian Dave McCann doesn't care about his music, every note, melody and lyric on this album screams otherwise. It's just that he comes across as the kind of man who doesn't compromise a whole lot. He makes his music and you can take it or leave it, mind you you'd be a fool to leave it. With a little tweaking and a little dumbing down, several of the tracks on Country Medicine would fit easily into the repertoire of any of the 'Shanias' of this world and guarantee a life of luxury for McCann into the bargain. Believe me he's a writer who knows how to put words and music together in a very entertaining way.

His 'problem' is that he demands so much more of his songs than they are just pleasing on the ear. You can smell the woodsmoke and fresh air on Country Medicine. It's not a 'raw' album as such but it is firmly rooted in real life. When he sings Leaving This Town there is absolutely no doubt that he has suffered the pain.

McCann has discovered the perfect blend on Country Medicine. Depending on your starting point, it's rock influenced country or vice versa. Brokenwing Bird is the kind of band track that is instantly a fans' favourite, while Joe's Bones has a solitary darkness that makes it unforgettable.

The effect of the album is a cumulative one, each track adds something a little different to the experience. None overshadows the other and certainly none are superfluous.

If there are standout tracks then it is comes down to personal choice. For me Sleeping With Gold is as close to the complete 'Americana' track as you can get, driving hard but full of honest feeling. Cocaine Stole is a runaway train of a song and to round things off there is an affectionate cover of Jethro Tull's Locomotive Breath. You're never going to get consensus about songs as good as this.

There's even the added bonus of an unlisted song at the end. It still mystifies me why they do that. Why not credit the track and make it 13 great songs instead of 12? It can't be superstition can it? Now that would be ironic because the one thing Country Medicine will not rely on is luck. In the midst of all this wonderful country rock, it would be too easy to overlook the contribution of the exotically named Ten Toed Frogs. To say that they aid and abet McCann in his envdeavours would be to suggest a supporting role. Forget it, Dave Bauer, Mel Smith, Sandy Switzer, Danny Patton, Ross Watson, Jake Peters, Jenny Allen and Gary Kurtz are the reason that Country Medicine is as good as it is.

There may seem to be a cast of thousands but their contribution is vital to an album that is the perfect antidote to the plastic world in which most of us live. - Michael Mee

"This dose of alt-country from Canada is just what the doctor ordered." - Tony Peyser

Well, it's about time we had something new from Dave McCann as I've just about worn out his debut, Woodland Tea; it's been my constant companion on long road trips, an infectious blend of Folk inflected country music perfect for my tone deaf vocal accompaniment. But now it's time for something new. And Country Medicine delivers. Sticks & Stones is the first track, and it picks up exactly where Woodland Tea left off, with a loping country backbeat, mandolin rhythm, and McCann's Canajun drawl: "Well the songs come down, down from the mountains, And they burned around in the Busted Towns, You can hear em now out amongst the wounded, Forgotten words seldom spoke by men." This is followed by the pedal steel laced Leaving this Town, with it's similarly evocative references to shotgun shacks and wind worn landscapes where the bones show through. I don't get it, most of the time, but it seems to connect with life out here on the prairies and I can't stop myself from singing along. Cocaine stole her brain (No Difficulties here) rocks like some crackling 70s country outlaw classic and would be top 40 in a saner universe. And the whole thing wraps up with the Motorhead-meets-Merle Haggard thump of Locomotive Breath (Although stay tuned for the for the hidden track that follows). The musicianship through out is top notch and I guarantee this one won't leaving the car stereo until the next Dave McCann record rolls down the pike. Start Your Engines. - Richard Thornley

"When it comes to that critical third release, many artists stumble, and lots of them fall flat and I can assure you that this guy isn't stumbling, he's picking up steam." - Don Grant (4.5 Stars out Five)


Dave McCann and The Firehearts - Dixiebluebird (2010)
Dave McCann and The Ten Toed Frogs - Shoot The Horse (2007-08)
Dave McCann and The Ten Toed Frogs - Country Medicine (2004)
Dave McCann and The Ten Toed Frogs - Woodland Tea (2000)


Motion Picture Soundtrack/ Hank Williams First Nation (2005)
(Wins "Best music in a motion picture" at the Nashville Film Festival in 2005.)
Hold Your Ground 4 Disc Box Set (Songs to Inspire Change) (2005)
Calgary Folk Festival Showcase Release (ab.cow/Folk Alliance) (2005)
Coal Dust Grins - Songs from the Coal Mines (1999)



Road ghosts, fallen shows and the blur of years built by song, sweat and stage noise. Americana-edged rock and roll tangled with the continuous trail of broken strings, headlights and a hell of a lot of laughter. You're looking at the guiding force behind Dave McCann and his fourth release "Dixiebluebird."

Produced by guitarist, producer and Americana alt-icon Will Kimbrough (Todd Snider, Mavis Staples, Rodney Crowell), "Dixiebluebird" is Dave's strongest work to date. A wealth of road and heart worn original material that lays a torch to the influence of Bruised Country Soul, Heartfelt Americana and Southern Tinged Rock and Roll. "Dixiebluebird" also brings transition, with an introduction to Dave McCann and the Firehearts. It's a new name, but the same superlative line up: long time guitarist Dave Bauer, multi-instrumentalist Pete Loughlin on bass, Tim Williams on drums and all the sagacious force of Charlie Hase on the pedal steel guitar.

"Dixiebluebird" was recorded at the Toybox Studio-a backyard studio hidden out in the old neighborhoods of East Nashville. Owned and operated by Eli "Lij" Shaw and aptly named after it's incredible collection of historic and vintage gear. Beautiful compressors, incredible mics, and the vintage MCI console that was rescued out of Florida's Criteria Studios after the seventies. It's recorded the luminaries, Neil Young, Steven Stills, Elvin Bishop, Eric Clapton, Joe Walsh, the Marshall Tucker Band, the Eagles, the list goes on and you can sense that historic influence.

From the title track "Dixiebluebird" to the high-caliber rockers like "Bloodpines" and "Fireheart" or following through to the pendulant swerve of "Tuscaloosa Blues" and "Unfamiliar Ground" you can hear right off what this band is all about...Heart. From the spine chilling and crunch-tangled crackle of the guitars to the uncommonly high standards of song craft, "Dixiebluebird" means business. With it's consistent and matchless musicianship this recording finds itself the benchmark.

Previous releases as Dave McCann and the Ten Toed Frogs "Shoot The Horse" (2008), "Country Medicine" (2004) and "Woodland Tea" (2000) garnered Dave international acclaim with fans and critics alike and found him sharing the stage with both legendary performers and the overlooked heros of the musical world. Songs from "Country Medicine" and "Woodland Tea" were also included in the award-winning sound track to the film "Hank Williams First Nation", as well as the TV series. The film sound track included songs from Joe Ely, Billy Joe Shaver, Hank Williams and others. It ended up taking home "Best music in a motion picture" at the Nashville Film Festival in 2005.

Dave now makes his home in the haunted, sweeping, grassland hills of Blackfoot Country, about a hour North of Montana's Glacier National Park in Lethbridge Alberta Canada.


Edmonton Folk Festival, Edmonton AB Canada
Stillwater Music Festival, Stillwater MT USA
Calgary Folk Music Festival, Calgary AB Canada
Calgary Stampede, Calgary AB Canada
Twangfest, Lethbridge AB Canada
Canadian Finals Rodeo - Rexall Place, Edmonton AB Canada
Sterndale Bennett Theatre, Lethbridge AB Canada
TransCanada Alberta Music Series,
Engineered Air Theatre, Calgary AB Canada
Peterborough Folk Festival, Peterborough ON Canada
The Horseshoe Tavern, Toronto ON Canada
The Carleton, Halifax NS Canada
University of Calgary Theatre, Calgary AB Canada
Rainbow Bistro, Ottawa ON Canada
The Black Sheep Inn, Wakefield QB Canada
Kaffe 1870, Wakefield QB Canada
Lethbridge Folk Club, Lethbridge AB Canada
North Country Fair, Driftpile AB Canada
Vern's Tavern, Calgary AB Canada
The Red Dog Tavern, Peterborough On Canada
Big Valley Jamboree, Camrose AB Canada
The Free Times Cafe, Toronto On Canada
Ironwood Stage & Grill, Calgary AB Canada
Canmore Folk Festival, Canmore AB Canada
East Coulee Music Festival, East Coulee AB Canada
Lilac Festival, Calgary AB Canada
Juno Fest, Edmonton AB Canada
The Ship, St John's NF Canada
Alberta Songwriter's Sessions,
Epcor Centre for the Performing Arts, Calgary AB Canada
Billy's No Depression House Concerts, Red Deer AB Canada
Nickelodeon Folk Club, Calgary AB Canada