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The Woodshed Orchestra


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"Taking chances with the Woodshed Orchestra By Daniela Piteo Special to The Standard April 14 2011"

Taking chances with the Woodshed Orchestra

By Daniela Piteo Special to The Standard
April 14 2011
Daniela Piteo

Special to The Standard

Woodshedding is said to be one of the most ambiguous jazz terms in our lexicon, a fusion of music born out of improvisation and intense practice, but when it comes to the Woodshed Orchestra, the term can be used to define their expansive sound.

For Dave Clark, the Woodshed's founding member and leader, his musical training began early when he begged his parents for a drum kit at six.

His parents relented to his pleas when he was 13 years old and his life-long love affair with the musical instrument has endured.

"I love the joyous meditative aspect of drumming," Clark said. "I am 45 years old and when I go downstairs in my house and play the drums I feel as excited as I did when I was a kid. There is always something new to discover."

Clark, a mainstay in the Canadian music industry, from his days as one of the original member of The Rheostatics to his recent gig with The Country of Miracles — a musical venture featuring Gord Downie of the Tragically Hip that will be performing at Coachella, a renowned musical festival in California.

Clark will step away from his numerous musical gigs to promote The Woodshed's latest CD at The Merchant Ale House in St. Catharines April 23 and 24.

"St. Catharines has been incredibly good to our band and the evolution of what has gone on playing in St. Catharines has been such a treat and an honour for us. It is just great playing at the Merchant Ale House," Clark said.

The CD release party will invite people to enjoy their music with influences ranging from Leonard Cohen, Sly and the Family Stone, Rush, the Byrds, Prince and bursts of New Orleans-style jazz.

The orchestra, which ranges from seven to 10 performers at any given show, play and rehearse the music live — improvising sound and harmony to a live audience, which can be a fluid or trying experiment.

"We don't rehearse, we learn the music live in front of an audience.

"If we fall into a bit of disaster, we turn it into disastrous beauty," said Clark. "The people I play with are super nice and they try their best on their instruments and they make some pretty great magic happen."

Clark and his bandmates, while playing on stage, allow the music to morph according to their perception.

"When you start in there it just happens in waves — you get people who have been in there during the day who have had a couple of drinks, you have people who have come in after work and people just cycle in until it is packed with people who dance and have fun," Clark said. "It's a really safe atmosphere where people can be themselves — it feels like a microcosm of the city glued into one place every time we play there.

"We have made so many friends playing in St. Catharines and they have helped our band develop in a great way, into being confident and sure-footed no matter what we do," Clark said.

While the band has developed a following in St. Catharines, Clark invites newcomers to their sound with the song Love and Affection.

"Everybody needs love and affection, if you incant that lyric enough it can perhaps soften your heart toward people you don't understand — it's the key to peaceful living."

The spirit of their music and their shows, according to Clark, came from parties his parents held as a child — where the guests would sing, laugh and dance.

"It was an accumulative positive experience for music. I associate it with love and kindness and community," Clark said.

And now he is inviting everyone to the party.

WHAT: Woodshed Orchestra, CD release party

WHERE: Merchant Ale House, 98 St. Paul St.

WHEN: April 23, 24

CALL: 905-984-4060
- The St. Catharines Standard



May 11, 2011 by: Ben Rayner

Onetime Rheostatics drummer Dave Clarke shot me a link the other day to “Geddy Lee,” an ebullient new tune and video by his band the Woodshed Orchestra, with the promise that “it’ll make you smile right away.”

Well, it did make me smile right away. And it’s been making me smile ever since, primarily because this rowdy klezmer chorale – an ode to a certain bassist in a certain beloved Toronto rock institution – has been playing on endless loop in my head. In a good, non-sanity-straining way, mercifully.

The 14-piece Woodshed Orchestra articulates in just two brisk minutes and a couple of droll verses the affection many Canadians feel for the voice of Rush: “Geddy Lee is a Canadian national treasure / Playing the bass in the greatest rock band ever.” It’s a truly joyous little dance-party pile-on, and the accompanying video is a delight, too – a colourful choir session that you’re instantly kinda jealous you weren’t a part of because it looks like so much fun. At least the Orchestra has been kind enough to subtitle the video in seven different languages (including the stylistically appropriate Hebrew) so everyone can get in on a little vicarious action and wonder aloud: “How many kids living in the Great White North started up a band because Rush seemed the sort of guys who would encourage you to start up a band?” That's the best Geddy-themed lyric since Pavement’s “Stereo” mused: “What about the voice of Geddy Lee? How did it get so high? I wonder if he speaks like a regular guy.”

I’m listening to the rest of the Woodshed Orchestra’s self-titled new album for the first time as I write this and it’s a riot, too. Funk, soul, country, New Orleans blues, slinky jazz, Stones-y rock ‘n’ roll and just about everything else you can imagine impeccably played and rendered in several garish shades of joy. Smiles abound.


The Woodshed Orchestra self titled cd on

Listen to the new Woodshed Orchestra album:
CBC Radio 3 Woodshed Page!



The Woodshed Orchestra is an ecstatic soul-filled communal multi-headed celebration emancipation experience. The Woodshed will take you higher and make you feel the love you need to succeed. Yes it will. The Woodshed will light up your tree, push all the right buttons, stroke your ego till you come to your senses and start to sing and dance with visions of sugar plum love making times dancing in your mind that seem so real to the taste, touch and feel that you’ll shout in happiness and cry tears of joy for being alive.

The Woodshed Orchestra Recipe: Take a bowlful of New Orleans second line, add a spoon of Tom Waits, drop in a dose of Sly Stone, a bone of Leonard Cohen, a hit
of the scene from Al Green, add some Blossom Dearie theory, a pinch of Loretta Lynn, a dollop of Asleep at The Wheel, a wallop of NRBQ, a sprinkle of vintage Rush, a bucketful of the Sun Ra Arkestra, a bushel of Monk, some essence of Randy Newman, a peck of the Fairfield Four, a blast from the Who, a shot of Dr. John, a hint of Ginsberg, a strand of Stravinsky, a packet of Prince, a taste of the Klezmatics, a teaspoon of the Ramones, a cup of Stevie Wonder and a good measure of Howlin’ Wolf. Mmm.

The Woodshed Orchestra was founded in 2005 by Toronto musician, educator, and composer Dave Clark in order to celebrate friendship and love through music. Clark called upon some of the finest folks he knew to make the gumbo boil and the people dance. It took a while to get the flavour just right, but it came to be and now in 2011 the year of “Give us something to celebrate about ‘cause we’ve been hit too many times by the dark side.”, the Woodshed has come to say to one and all, “There is love, there is hope, live your dreams, it’s not what it seems, don’t get weighed down by low rent clowns who scatter all the minds through wi-fi and phone lines, you are good, look in your heart, come with us, it’s time to start, let’s think of peace, let’s try to be kind, let’s give what we’ve got, it’ll bring peace of mind, because you know after the show when the lights are dark there’ll be that spark, that right connection in the direction towards Love & Affection.”