Four Chords and the Truth, the Dakota Confessions are series of songwriter showcases held quarterly in Toronto at the Dakota Tavern, featuring a blend of top notch songwriters and songs in an intimate environment. Each show is hosted by award-winning songwriter Andrea England and will features several nationally and/or internationally acclaimed songwriters (and maybe a surprise guest or two). The songs are performed “in the round,” a style made famous by Nashville’s Bluebird Café, in which all four songwriters share the stage at once, each introducing and performing one song acoustically per round for a series of 3 rounds.
3rd Dakota Confessions RECAP:
Featured Songwriters: Jason McCoy (The Road Hammers), Suzie Vinnick, Luke McMaster, Rob Wells, and host, Andrea England. Surprise Guests: Joey Landreth (Bros. Landreth), Melissa Bel, Ana Golja (Degrassi), Shobha, and Arun Charurvedi! See songwriter bios at the end of this post.
Here are some moments from the evening, the first courtesy of Mike Highfield (thanks Mike)!
Rob Wells started us off!
Throughout the evening, Blues & Roots Radio’s Stevie Connor interviewed the Four Chords songwriters from 3rd Confessions for his Wee Dan’s Hoose radio show. Check out the special here:
ABOUT THE SONGWRITERS:
Albertan Jason McCoy began playing local legions and clubs on weekends, while still in high school. After becoming Canada’s youngest licensed pilot at age 16, he signed a recording contract with MCA Records Canada, kicking off an impressive string of hits from “This Used to Be Our Town” to the classic “Born Again in Dixieland.” After a gold album, multiple CCMA song of the year awards, and 2 of the coveted Male Artist of the year awards, Jason wanted to try something a little different, and started what would become the most successful country group in Canadian Country Music History, The Road Hammers. With a string of hits from “I’m A Road Hammer,” “East Bound and Down” to “Mud,” the band would go on to win 2 CCMA Group of the year awards, a gold album, a platinum album, and the coveted Juno award for best Country Recording. Jason has been host to many television shows, from Smashtown, Pet Heroes, to Jason McCoy Eats America. Jason also participated in the hit TV series Mantracker, and WON! Along with his wife Terrine, son Caleb, and daughter Grace, Jason resides on a farm near Barrie Ontario, and makes frequent trips to his home in Nashville, where he enjoys working with a tight knit group of his creative peers.
A Saskatoon native transplanted to the Niagara Region of Ontario, Suzie Vinnick is the proud owner of a gorgeous voice, prodigious guitar and bass chops, and an engagingly candid performance style. Her career has seen triumph after triumph. Among her most recent successes: achieving finalist status in the Solo/Duo Category at the 2013 International Blues Challenge in Memphis, TN; winning 2 X 2012 Maple Blues Awards for Best Acoustic Act and Female Vocalist, being named 2012 Sirius XM Canada Blues Artist of the Year. Suzie has toured nationally with Stuart McLean’s The Vinyl Café and the John McDermott Band, and performed for Canadian Peacekeepers in Bosnia and the Persian Gulf. She was also the voice of Tim Horton’s for 5 years. How cool is that? Suzie’s latest full-length release is a solo acoustic blues album entitled Me ‘n’ Mabel, and in May of 2012, she released Live At Bluesville, which includes 8 blues, roots and gospel songs. Tune your ears to one of Canada’s music greats, with “…a voice of spun gold and honey” (Access Magazine).
Luke McMaster cut his teeth with some of the biggest acts of the day, including opening for Justin Timberlake and Christine Aguliera. Following writing collaborations with such global superstars as Rihanna, Luke has returned to his performing roots as a solo artist with a sound that reflects the past, the present and the future of Soul. Formerly one half of gold selling duo McMaster & James, Luke’s initial solo album was a contemporary tribute to traditional blue eyed soul and early Motown. His new album, TRENDING, looks to the future in a breakthrough collection of “retro funk and classic soul” music, in the vein of artists like Adele, Bruno Mars & Sam Smith. His live performance projects the power and emotion of that journey, as it leads to the future of Soul. All the while, Luke continues to write and collaborate with a variety of artists including co-writing the smash hit “Heartbreak Coverup”.
Rob Wells is a multi-platinum, award-winning producer/songwriter based in Canada.
Wells has worked with Ariana Grande, Justin Bieber, Selena Gomez, Adam Lambert, Serena Ryder, Katherine McPhee, Nick Lachey, Miranda Cosgrove, Mika, Backstreet Boys, Paloma Faith, Big Time Rush, Desmond Child, Cyndi Lauper, Olivia Newton John, Daisy Dares You, Boyzone, Victoria Duffield, Keshia Chante, Matt Dusk, Marie-Mai, Shiloh, RyanDan, Julian Moon & many others. Rob’s work has been featured on So You Think You Can Dance, Dancing With The Stars, One Tree Hill, The View, Late Show with David Letterman, Laguna Beach, House Of Carters, Degrassi: The Next Generation, Instant Star, One for the Money, StreetDance 3D & 20th Century Fox’s Flicka. In 2005, Wells (along with Christopher Ward) placed first in the International Songwriting Competition’s Top40/Pop Category with the song “There’s Us”, which was later recorded by Alexz Johnson, Backstreet Boys and Jennifer Ewbank. Wells (along with Fred St-Gelais and Marie-Mai) received a SOCAN #1 award for Marie-Mai’s “Comme Avant”, which remained at #1 for 11 weeks in a row in 2011. He also received a SOCAN #1 award for Matt Dusk’s “All About Me”, and Marc Dupré’s “Un Coup Sur Mon Coeur.” Rob appeared on an episode of E!’s “House Of Carters” as a music producer. He was also voted Mississauga’s 8th most influential person in 2013 and inducted into the Mississauga Music Walk of Fame in 2015.
Nova Scotia-born Toronto-based Andrea England has a unique ability to work successfully in two different music worlds, recording and performing as a solo roots/country artist while placing songs with pop stars and emerging country artists. Having been awarded by the John Lennon International, NSAI, USA and International Songwriting Competitions, England’s songs have appeared on the TV series Joan of Arcadia, Beautiful People, Dawson’s Creek and Party of Five, in feature films Hooked on Speedman (Canada) and Piazza Gnocchi (Italy), and have been recorded by numerous artists, including former Pussycat Doll, Nicole Scherzinger (whose recording of co-write “Casualty” on Killer Love earned Andrea her first UK Gold record), and most recently, 2015 CCMA nominee Twin Kennedy (cowrites “Get Back Up” and “I Never Will” book-end their new album, It’s A Love Thing). Andrea’s own most recent release, Hope & Other Sins – which was produced by Colin Linden and features guest musicians Carolyn Dawn Johnson, Damhnait Doyle, Liz Rodrigues and Gordie Sampson, among others – has garnered rave reviews and diverse radio play, reaching #1 on Galaxy’s FolkRoots chart & spending 14 wks on CashBox Magazine’s Top 50 Folk Chart. Of it, David Kidney (Critics at Large) wrote: “The songs are autobiographical, personal, honest and universal. The performances are potent as you might expect; England’s vocals are delicate yet strong…”