Story & photos
by Dan Davidson
Early last winter, during a stretch when the thermometer dipped into the minus 40s, Nathan Tinkham came to town with a portable recording studio, set up at the Dänojà Zho Cultural Centre, and made about 30 recordings of local Dawson singer/songwriters.
Jazz Yukon applied for and obtained a $10,000 grant for the project, which was also supported by the North Klondike Highway Project and the Klondike Institute of Art and Culture.
During his two-week stint he was able to get work by Barnacle Bob Hilliard, Richard Halliday, Connor Matak, Drea Nasager, Ecka Janus, Peter Menzies, the Hän Singers, Josh (JD) McCallen, Noosa, Whoa Bear (a group), Clive Betts and Nijen Holland.
Tinkham took all of the raw recordings back to his home studio on Gabriola Island and spent part of the winter creating the final master for The Klondike Songwriters Volume One.
The CD was launched as an event in the Live At the Palace Grand season on July 7.
Peter Menzies, the evening’s emcee and one of the 14 artists who contributed the 19 tracks to this initial volume, welcomed everyone to the second concert of the 22 events planned at the Palace for the summer as part of a pilot regional economic development plan created by the Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in and partnered with the Dawson City Arts Society.
Most of the performers on the CD were able to make it to the launch, which was attended by about 75 people.
Barnacle Bob opened both of the evening’s two sets with some piano improvisations, and most of the players performed the tunes that were on the CD, though some chose other work.
“This CD project basically came about just because of a love of music,” Menzies said.
“The timing for having this launch in the theatre as part of the summer series, was just good timing, as this series was not a sure thing prior to the winter, and was only firmed up a month or so ago.
“We knew the CDs would arrive here about July 4 and about the time that we were putting together the whole season, we were short one show on a Sunday, so we made the pitch that the people who are on this CD would have a chance to play the music that Nathan had produced with them.
“This CD has been a real labour of love. For some of us, it was our first time recording. There are industry people who are career musicians on this CD and emerging artists. It’s a reflection of some of the culture of the songwriting that’s going on in Dawson right now, but really, to be in the Palace Grand Theatre – it’s really over the top.”
The evening was a great success, and rumour has it that the plans for volume two have already been set in motion.