Get serious about enjoying yourself with Dave Clark and the Woodshed Orchestra

Kingston Heritage

By Hollie Pratt-Campbell 

Events - For Dave Clark, writing music is a way of life.

“I just love writing music,” he says. “I sit down and I just kind of let things come out. I’ve written songs about personal things to do with my own relationship with my wife over years and years. I’ve written things about cats. I’ve written things from the perspective of people I don’t even know.”

And the former Rheostatics drummer certainly doesn’t limit himself to any particular style of music when writing for his current band, The Woodshed Orchestra, which plays a mash up of dance music styles from around the world. I try to just let things happen,” Clark explains. “If I write a song that sounds like a Caribbean polka tune or one that sounds like punk rock number, there it is, it’s going in the book. And we play them all.”

Clark’s diverse tastes in music date back to childhood, when he studied with a teacher who played Greek and Macedonian music. “He used to take me out on gigs and mentored me in the old fashioned style. Then he got me playing right away with other people and stressed that I keep an open mind, so I just listened to all kinds of stuff - AC/DC, the BeeGees, Frank Zappa, Barbra Streisand, Duke Ellington, it didn’t matter. It was all music.”

Clark was involved with co-writing during his Rheostatics days, but didn’t really get serious about it until more recently, when a friend dared him to write a song. “A friend of mine said hey, that’s a pretty good tune, you should do more of that, and he just said it at the right time. He made me feel good enough to give myself license to do it, and it just turned on like a tap and never stopped.”

The Woodshed Orchestra contains 10 members when everybody’s together, who collectively reside in Toronto, Montreal and St. Catharines; as the main organizer, Clark likes to keep things pretty laid back and as open and friendly as possible. “That allows people to feel wanted and valued and it means in my mind that we’ve got a place where we can be ourselves together,” he says. “Everybody in the band is a stellar person and a stellar musician and capable of leading the band and writing for the band if they want. Most of them have their own bands.”

He notes that when the Woodshed Orchestra gets together, it’s always a great time. “The people in the band are so cool. We’ve got a lot of common denominators. Everybody is really friendly and everybody loves to eat good food, which is super important. Everybody likes to dance and joke around and revels in each other’s victories.”

The band will bring their eclectic, upbeat style to The Grad Club on Nov. 14. The goal: to get people up on their feet. “We play music to get people dancing, get them singing along,” says Clark. “What I’m looking for is to be with people, not be at them. If there’s one thing I’m serious about it’s enjoying myself.”

He adds that “we’re going to come to that crazy Grad Club on the 14th and play with all the love in our hearts that we have. And we’re going to give that to everybody and I know it will be fantastic because we love to celebrate and we’re there to celebrate with people there.”