David Leask and the Cameron Connections

David Leask with Justin Abedin at the Cameron House In many ways, the Cameron House on Queen West in Toronto is a nondescript kind of building. Or it would be were it not for the murals and marquees, sculptures and signs that have adorned the outside of the building and the people, events, art forms and stories that have defined and redefined the inside over many decades as a cultural hub. It's hard to overestimate the impact that this humble little place has had on me personally, on the shape of the Six String Nation and on the culture of the city I love.

So it's always a pleasure to be at the Cameron - whether Voyageur is with me or not. But yesterday was very special because my friend David Leask - who'd been doing a Monday evening residency there for the month of March to mark the release of his latest EP, "Six in 6/8", with guitarist and producer Justin Abedin at his side - asked if I might bring Voyageur down to be part of his last night in the series. As you may have read here previously, David had been inspired to write some songs based on stories built into the guitar. I offered to let him take Voyageur home for a bit to do his writing and it proved to be an incredibly productive period - with a few songs completed and a couple of others well germinated by the time I needed it back. We've had a few occasions now, at Six String Nation presentation events, for David to play the main three completed songs in the "performance pocket" part of the show. This was a chance for him to use the Voyageur in the context of his own show and to hear those songs - "The Legend of Joe Labobe", "Spirit Wrestlers" and "Against the Grain" - with the accompaniment of Justin's gorgeous electric colourations.

As usual, the Cameron functioned as a place for multiple threads to come together seamlessly. Apart from David's own history with Voyageur, Justin Abedin had played it in concert a few years ago with Justin Hynes at a gala benefit for Mike & Brenda Neuts' MCBN Foundation. And there in the audience were Henry Lees and Dale Jones who had seen David's first major performance of the three Voyageur songs at the Oakville Centre for the Performing Arts (and provided the photos thereof for this blog!); Marni Thornton, who had hosted the Six String Nation presentation for her music industry class at Durham College; Bob Reid, who - with Blair Packham - has had me on his show on CFRB more than once to talk about the project; Stephanie Marshall, a friend who last played Voyageur on the recently defunct Graffiti's in Kensington Market a couple of blocks away; and Norine Graham-Robinson, who came up to introduce herself after having seen David play at a house concert where the mention of Six String Nation prompted the discovery of a connection between her and two other guests through my mother!

Thanks to David and his wife Mary-Ellen for inviting us to be part of the evening and thanks to Nigel for the usual Cameron hospitality.

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