Dave Russell’s Special Valentine’s Show at The Gayety Theatre
By Bill Monahan
One of the busiest and most popular local musicians, David J. Russell, will be the star of a special Valentine’s Day Show at The Gayety Theatre in Collingwood. For this one night, our local guitar hero will transform himself into Jim Croce (maybe he’ll rent a big black moustache) to create an evening featuring the late songwriter’s most popular tunes.
If you aren’t a fan of Dave Russell it’s probably because you haven’t seen him perform, and if you haven’t seen him perform then you aren’t getting out enough.
For many years he has performed somewhere practically every day of the week, almost always in our local area. Up until recently many of the shows he did were for free, but he is now enough in demand to string together paying gigs at local pubs and restaurants, sometimes with his band The Rockafellers but often solo. You might have seen him at M. J. Byrne’s in the Blue Mountain Village, or at the weekly jam he hosts on Thursdays at The Corner Café in Thornbury, but you are just as likely to see him hosting or co-hosting various open stages, including Sundays at The Barn, Tuesday’s with Chris Scerri at The Leeky Canoe, or Wednesday nights up at Ted’s Range Road Diner. But this show is special, in a concert setting with him at the centre of it.
Dave has been playing music for a long time and has put out two CDs of his original songs. His big break is long overdue. How this show came about is a story in itself. The catalyst is a man named David Maxwell. Serendipity played a part as well.
“I met Dave Russell through a mutual friend, David Wilding-Davies of Ashanti Coffee, at a street festival in Thornbury,” says Dave Maxwell, “I met Dave Russell and Sid Dickinson, owner of the Gayety, literally at exactly the same time when they were sitting outside the Ashanti coffee shop.” He heard Dave play on a Sunday afternoon at the Thornbury market. “He he was singing ‘Hallelujah’ by Leonard Cohen. For whatever reason, as I was driving home I was trying to figure out who he reminded me of. Three days later it hit me…it was Jim Croce.”
Like many people, he saw in Dave Russell a talent that deserves to go places. Ideas rattled around in his imagination as several months went by and then, eighteen months later, he ran into Sid Dickinson again at a dinner party. And around the same time he ran into Dave Russell again. Dave Maxwell had been involved in hospital fundraising over the years and he found a kindred spirit in Sid, who had “completed a coast to coast bike run raising over $42,000 for the Collingwood hospitals. So our thought was to continue with Sid’s fundraising efforts in particular given the Gayety is the centre of it all.” He wondered if Dave Russell would agree to do a Jim Croce tribute at The Gayety as a fundraiser for the Collingwood Hospital. Sid had an open date at The Gayety on Valentine’s Day and it all seemed to fit together perfectly. The first thing he did was get in contact with Jim Croce’s widow and he obtained permission to use his songs. When he approached Dave Russell with the idea he got a positive response. And the rest is history.
“Those of us who know the musical talent of Dave Russell truly enjoy him both as a musician and as a tremendous personality,” he says, “We believe it is now ‘Dave Russell’s Time’, and we want to do everything we can to help promote and elevate his career profile.”
The music of Jim Croce is in a class by itself, sincere ballads and rocking story songs. He died in a plane crash in 1973 at the height of his popularity, leaving behind a legacy of unforgettable songs.
David Maxwell is hoping for big things to happen for David J. Russell as a result of this undertaking. “There are two things we are hoping will come out of this project,” he says, “The first being the potential of a national series of fundraising for hospitals which are the centre of our communities. And secondly, the Gayety is to be ‘the Home Of Dave Russell’ for concerts once a month.”
The concert will begin at 8 p.m. on Valentine’s Evening, and “both Dave and Sid are very excited about their special guests”. Tickets are $35.
So if you’re looking for a special night out with your sweetie, this is your chance to let Dave Russell speak for you, to “say I love you in a song”.
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