It began with a gift of music.
And from a Christmas present of studio recording time from his three children three years ago, the songs that Malcolm Stanley of Breadalbane has been writing and performing for family and friends since the 1970s have finally been captured on CD.
Also, with support from local musicians, artists and friends, this compilation of music, Soul of the Dixon Road, is now a fundraiser for The Dunk, which is a unique music venue in Breadalbane.
“The songs have been written over 40 years. Some of those songs on there I wrote when I was a very young guy,” Stanley says of Soul of the Dixon Road, which is being launched at The Dunk on Saturday, Nov. 30, 7:30 p.m.
Stanley is primarily known as a potter, but his family and friends are also well aware of his musical side.
“I was playing guitar and singing when I was still in high school, and at the same time I discovered pottery. So I was 15 years old when I first started throwing pottery on a wheel and about the same time I started writing songs and playing guitar, actually because of Gordon Lightfoot, Neil Young, Paul Simon and James Taylor, all those idols of mine.
“It was just something that a lot of young people were doing at the time,” he says.
The big move from playing at home, at kitchen parties or occasionally at The Dunk came in the form of that cool Christmas present of studio recording time at Reggie’s Recording Palace in Crapaud where Stanley worked closely with sound engineer James Carrier.
“I went in there a little nervous. I’d never really done anything like this. James said, ‘Just pretend you’re in your living room and I’m hearing these songs for the
first time,’ which he was pretty much . . . . That was the way I went around laying down the bed tracks — just me and the guitar, just a single take,” Stanley remembers.
Originally the CD was going to be just those recorded bed tracks, but it quickly evolved into an even bigger community project when the board of The Friends of the Dunk came onboard.
“I’ve got to meet some wonderful people through music at The Dunk. (Owner Hall Mills’) philosophy is it’s all about the music and the performers. He doesn’t make any money off it. He’s a retired guy who opens his home, which happens to have really good acoustics,” Stanley says.
“He owns the house where it happens, but he’s got a board now, The Friends of the Dunk, and they suggested to me that they could turn this record project into a fundraiser, so they put up the money . . . .”
Through the magic of sound editing, the musical contributions of P.E.I. songstress Catherine MacLellan, who is a neighbour, his son, Michael Stanley, and musicians John Rehder and Peter Richards were layered to the original tracks.
“It was neat because the bed tracks were already done, so I
got to sit back and listen to
myself over and over and over while we layered this other music on.
“At one point I said to John, ‘You know, you get kind of sick of hearing your own voice,’ and he said, ‘Yeah, that’s what recording is all about,’ “ Stanley laughs.
Soul of the Dixon Road also includes four live tracks that
were recorded when he performed with his son’s band on a summer solstice day nearly 10 years ago.
“That was a fun thing. I didn’t even know I was being recorded at the time.
“It was part of my Father’s Day present. They let me sing in with the band at a party . . . . There were a couple of microphones hanging in a tree that I didn’t know about,” Stanley laughs.
The title track, Soul of the Dixon Road, was written a few years ago as a tribute to this unique rural community.
“It’s about the spirit of this place, and we get together over food and drink and fellowship — any excuse to actually (get together),” Stanley says with a smile.
Summer’s Burning was a little longer in coming together.
“I started writing it the summer I graduated high school. I added a couple of verses back in the 1980s, and my granddaughter was born when I wrote the last verse,” he says.
“That’s why (our children) wanted him to do a CD because they wanted to be able to listen
to the songs that they grew up with,” his wife, Christine Stanley adds.
“Now our granddaughters — we have four — two of them know the songs off by heart. They’ll be playing with their toys and singing out loud.”
All the sales of the CD will go to The Dunk to bring in more top-notch performers.
“It was fun. I included my neighbours and some pretty fine musicians and got to find out what making a record was all about,” Stanley says.
“And The Dunk, which is just down the road, is where I will be launching it. “It’s where I’ve played a lot of music and some of the songs are written about all the neighbours and people that I see at The Dunk fairly regularly, so it’s a good fit.”
AT A GLANCE
Malcolm Stanley will be launching his CD Soul of the Dixon Road at The Dunk at 3864 Dixon Rd., Route 246 on Saturday, Nov. 30, 7:30 p.m.
This is a community project sponsored by The Dunk and local musicians, artists and friends.
The CD includes songs written by Stanley that span 1973 to 2013.
Also on the recording are Jon Rehder (vocals, piano, fretless bass, guitar, musical direction), Catherine MacLellan (vocals), Peter Richards (dobro), and Stanley’s son Michael Stanley (vocals, bass, banjo).
The CD includes four live tracks with Out From Under with Jeff Stewart (guitar), Jeff Cameron (guitar), Wes Gallant (guitar), Shane Coady (drums), Michael Stanley (bass), Alexander Reuss (harmonica) and Dave Gould (guest percussion).
Original tracks on the CD are Clay Country Road, Winter Witch, Take a Stand, By the Ocean, Soul of the Dixon Road, Wheatley River, Silver and Gold, The Potter’s Song, Take me to the Highlands, 53 Indian and Summer Burning. The one cover on the album is Steve Forbert’s Tonight I feel so far away from Home.
CDs are available at The Dunk in Breadalbane and from Michael Stanley Pottery in Victoria-by the Sea and the Dixon Road, 393-2339.
The Dunk is the home and property of Hal Mills, the site of Nick Maros’ cabin and a venue for some of the best music on the Island. The very first musical event at The Dunk was in 2005 with Funk the Dunk: A Celebration of Music, Food and Friends. Other events include Summer Solstice, DunkStock, Winter Solstice, the annual Pie-off & Musical Extravaganza and house concerts. The Dunk has become a gathering place for the Dixon Road community of friends, a place to enjoy music and to support musicians. (Source: The Dunk’s Facebook page)
After 40 years of writing and singing songs, Malcolm Stanley of Breadalbane has released a CD of his songs entitled Soul of the Dixon Road. What started out as a Christmas present of recording time from his children became is a community project to raise funds for The Dunk, a unique music venue on the Dixon Road.
©GUARDIAN PHOTO BY MARY MACKAY