For Dan Davidson, one of the greatest joys of a music career is being on the road — touring across Canada, the United States and around the world — discovering country music inspirations in unlikely places.
“At the end of the day, if I get to travel the world and make music with my friends, I feel like I’ve hacked the system,” he says.
Davidson’s getting ready to travel across Western Canada on his Nineteen Eighty Something tour, to play music off his newest album of the same name. The tour kicks off Wednesday in Vancouver before stopping at Calgary’s Commonwealth Bar on Friday, Edmonton Starlite Room Sunday night, Bo’s Bar in Red Deer the following night with a turnaround in Saskatoon on the 28th and a final arena show at Grande Prairie’s Bonnetts Energy Centre Dec. 2.
As a member of the now-defunct rock band Tupelo Honey, Davidson opened for artists like Bon Jovi, Three Days Grace and Billy Talent. Nineteen Eighty Something is his first headlining tour.
“To do your own headlining tour is its own kind of animal,” he says. “It’s a bit of a statement. It’s a product of a lot of hard work, and I’ve been really lucky, especially as an independent artist.
“But we learned a lot about what it takes to put on a good live show from watching some of our heroes performing with us, and I feel like we’ve taken all those little moments from all the years of playing on stage and worked them into our country music show.”
In the past, Davidson focused on putting out one single after another, including award-winning numbers like Found, Barn Burner and Wanted You To, and collecting them together in an album after the fact.
This time around, when he knew he was working on a concept-driven album from the get-go, he took a different tack.
“This was a lot of fun for me because it allowed me to step back and figure out what was really going to fit the vibe,” he says. “How did I want to present it to the world?”
Though some of the main themes of the album are rooted in his childhood years, searching for inspiration took him far afield from his home in Edmonton.
That journey is captured in Davidson’s new documentary, Lighting Fires, where he chronicled the locations and collaborations behind the new album.
“In country, everybody talks about Nashville — going to Nashville, making it in Nashville,” he says. “So I wanted to try to do something different than Nashville, to find my inspiration. So for each location in the documentary, I grabbed a songwriter or a collaborator or a producer, and we would fly to a location that’s pretty ‘un-country,’ or just not the usual location that you would expect.”
Davidson’s travels took him from Brooklyn to the “forgotten, dusty desert town” of Wilcox, Arizona, and all the way back to the stage at the Calgary Stampede, where he tried out his new music in front of an audience of thousands.
“In each location, we soaked in the community and tried to figure out what aspects of country music exist there — maybe in a different way — and write some songs,” he says.
At the moment, Davidson’s tour is keeping him busy, and this is on top of preparations for upcoming tours in Australia and Spain next year.
But even while he’s on the road, crisscrossing Western Canada, he’s getting inspired by these close-to-home travels.
“I’m getting back into writing mode — there’s always something I’m tinkering on,” he says. “I feel like you can’t have inspiration unless you’re out there, doing stuff and getting in the mix. As an artist, that’s what it’s all about.”
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Dan Davidson w/ Hailey Benedict
Where The Starlite Room
When Sunday, doors at 7 p.m.
Tickets Starting at $17.41 (including fees) at starliteroom.ca