Thursday, November 22, 2012

Dear Poets: Upcoming (Gulf) Islands Tour, what my friends have to say, and life is magic.

Dear Poets,

Time files, doesn't it? One day you wake up and its been months since you Tetris-packed your amps and guitars and snare drums and setlists into a Toyota of one kind or another to put some KMs under your discount tires, stopping each evening to greet old friends or peek around unfamiliar corners in hopes of luring in some new ones. No wonder you've been feeling so restless. It's time for a change. 

Everything changes. There's no way around that. 

The last months have been all writing and moving and learning. Climbing for the peak of something I can't see for all the clouds up there. Scary stuff. Wonderful stuff. 

The short version, which I'll stick to today, is that I'm teaming up with my old friend (and fiddle/banjo/mandolin player extroidinaire) Adam Iredale-Gray (of Fish & BirdFiddle Head Studios, producer of my latest record No One Will Remember You) and heading out on a duo-tour of Vancouver, Victoria, and the Gulf Islands. I'll put those few dates right now below. I'd sure love to see you. Dig deep!


A few quick things, though, before the show dates. No. 1 - It happens to be festival application season. It's going to be a big year, and I'm amping up the applications like never before. If you're somewhere that has a festival, and you'd like the band to swing by your corner of the western world, let them know! And let me know! It would be a big help. 


No. 2 - Sometimes people ask me what I'm listening to these days. I have an answer. And I'm excited to tell you about it. It's a great pleasure to tell you about some wonderful friends who have put out amazing new records, or who are seeking your help to do so. I'm bursting with joy and I will try to be brief, but it's a challenge to hold back my thoughts about these things. I'm overjoyed just thinking about having the opportunity to tell you about it:

Longtime comrade Corbin Murdoch spent the last year circling the world (almost literally) seeking answers to questions he never told me about. When he arrived back in Canada, he spent two months in the bafflingly spectacular town of Bruno, SK, writing his next record, which will be called Ode To Joy. The songs he's written are among the best songs I've heard, and his ambitions for the recording are huge. To help make it happen, he's released a fundraising EP with two songs that I think you'll love. Expecially Mythmaker. Wow. Drop by his fundraising site for details. It is worth your time and money. 

Jenny Ritter (formerly of BC-based band The Gruff) has just recently put out her long awaited solo album Bright Main Land. She made this record in the same Mayne Island studios where I made No One Will Remember You, with a few of the same folks (including Lucas Goetz of Deep Dark Woods and Ryan Boeur of Fish & Bird). You know how much I love it when people who make great folk music aren't afraid of doing it with guts, heart, and noise. Buy it. You won't regret it. If you regret it, which is impossible, I promise to mail you something amazing for free. 

My good friend and sometimes tour-mate Karyn Ellis is also raising funds to make her newest record, which will be called More Than A Hero. I was standing right there beside her when she wrote the title track, and everyone present knew it was a force to be reckoned with.  To make the record, she's travelling from the safety of BC's interior to the treacherous streets of Toronto, ON, where' she's teaming up with some amateur named Don Kerr (who has played with, produced, and studio hosted folks like the Rheostatics, Ron Sexmith, and Jason Collett. Whatever) to make this hit factory happen. Help her raise the funds to make it all go down smooth here:

A ways back I told you that James Lamb had digitally released his album Imagineering. I gushed and gushed about him. If you forget, what I said was: "He remains my favourite musician on planet earth. He tells the kind of stories that float effortlessly and secretly between the concrete and the surreal. He tackles metaphors like he's chasing buffalo off of a cliff." Some guy called Dan Mangan says that James " a methodical, thoughtful and delightful songwriter and performer." His album is finally coming out on proper, tactile disc. Find out all about it on his website. Please. 


Oh My! - Thanks for sticking around. You've warmed my heart with your attention span. I hope you get all the rest that you need in order to make everything you hope for happen. I could drink a case of you. Here's a few upcoming show dates links to facebook (fb) events provided. When I'm done these few shows I'm heading to Mayne Island to start demo-ing a new record. Wish me luck. Tell your friends. Keep warm and dry, poets. 

The most up-to-date show info is always at

Tuesday, Nov. 27th
Vancouver, BC
Pacific Theatre (fb)
With David Simard
and Brie Nielson
Wednesday Nov. 28th
Victoria, BC
House Show (fb)
Email for details
Duo tour with
Thursday, Nov. 29th
Denman Island, BC
House Show (fb)
Email for details
Duo tour with
Friday, Nov. 30th
Hornby Island, BC
House Show (fb)
Email for details
Duo tour with
Saturday, Dec. 1st
Glenora, BC
(Near Duncan)
House Show (fb)
Email for details
Duo tour with

I will die for your love, Poets,

Good Night,

David Newberry, Music

phone: 604 910 5112

studio-live performance of 'Hold On':

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

When You Stop Taking Advice: It happened to Britney Spears and it will happen to Canada

There was a moment in the short and tumultuous career of Britney Spears where she fired everyone who disagreed with her and surrounded herself with a team of people who smiled and nodded their fat heads along at every little thing she said. Can you guess what happened? Well, amongst other things, this happened:

A crude, cruel, and exploitative way to make a point, perhaps, but unfortunately it's a perfect metaphor for our lives right now. You see, there is a period in every too-short entertainment career where the people who pay too much attention to the culture-machine for a living say “…that person has become too powerful, too confident, they have strayed too far from their ability to be self-critical, they think that everything they do is right, and they are ready to destroy anyone who disagrees with them. They’re done.” And what happens next - every time - (with the possible exception of Neil Young, though only sort of) is that person’s career comes to a comedically tragic halt. The next time you see them, if you see them again at all, they are a confused shadow of their former selves, too scared (and scarred) to put on the show we all know they were capable of. The time after that, they’re Elvis Presley, performing in some kind of bloated gospel train wreck in Las Vegas, taking breaks to eat a bacon and peanut butter and grape jelly sandwich on a doublewide hoagie bun.  Or they’re over compensating for themselves in some kind of a twisted self-celebratory-circus at a half-sold area that is barely big enough to hold all the pieces of their broken ego. If you see them once more, it is often in a photograph that leaked to a tabloid by an intern at the hospital where they were pronounced dead, and it isn’t pretty. Not that it ever was.

The reason you hire people to give you advice is so that opinions and ideas other than your own are on the table. The reason you consider these opinions and ideas is because it will make the final product better. The reason we have agreed to give credibility to people who have areas of expertise is because it is impossible for any of us to know everything by ourselves, and the only ways out of that involve either going in blind, or asking someone who might know better than us.  Even if you say “no” to their advice, it is inherently a more informed “no.”

Except in Canada. In Canada, we’re learning, the people in charge favour the Britney Spears (circa 2005) approach to decision making, and have, over time, consistently continued to devalue the role of advice in the process of governing the country and in the day-to-day life of Canadians. That process has been accelerating rapidly since The Conservative Party of Canada attained a Majority in the House of Commons Last year.

We see this, for example, in the Harper Government's recent saber-rattling surrounding environmental groups and their status as charities. The government has put environmental groups on alert, saying that their activities are acting against "Canadian interests," and that if they continue to do so, they will lose their ability to issue charitable tax receipts to donors.

Party of the Conservatives line of argument here, as I understand it, is that Canadian environmental groups are taking an advocacy role (as opposed to a charitable one, whatever that is), and that they are doing it with foreign money that reflects outside interests. Let’s consider the validity of these statements one by one.

Environment Minister Peter Kent recently accused environmental charity groups of “laundering” foreign money. I’ll do Mr. Kent a favour and ignore the fact that he made up a new definition for “money laundering” (which as far as I know refers to concealing the source of illicitly attained funds). Instead, I will draw up a list of all of the charity organizations in Canada and put them in order of how much money they receive from foreign donors. As it turns out, of the top ten organizations on that list, only one of those organizations could even remotely be considered an environmental organization. Any guesses? Greenpeace Canada? Nope. Some angry long hairs in the anti-oil-and-gas sands business channeling vast quantities of Venezuelan capital into Fort Mac via their Hugo Chavez inspired bristol board protest campaigns? Not this time. Ducks Unlimited?


The environmental organization in Canada that, far and away, “launders” the most un-Canadian dollars into the country uses Daffy Duck as their spokes-cartoon, and is dedicated to preserving Canadian wetlands so that their grandchildren will be able to go shoot ducks on it just like they did when they were kids. And they money they're receiving? A lot of it comes from "U.S. federal and state governments." Radicals.

And how about this whole charitable status thing? Currently, if you have charitable status in Canada, you can offer your donors charitable tax receipts that allows them to, in short, pay less taxes. It can be a huge incentive for some larger donors, and so it plays a huge role in an organization's ability to fund raise. Conservatives in the house and senate have been arguing that opposing projects like the oil sands is uncharitable and should result in a loss of status.

You get a charitable tax receipt for donating to laughably right wing think tanks like The Fraser Institute (apparently opposing public health care is a perfectly charitable activity). You get a charitable tax receipt for donating to the charismatically-challenged soft social democrats at The Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives. You get a tax receipt for giving money to the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra, to homeless shelters that make their vulnerable guests listen to bible study, and to homeless outreach teams that give away free crack pipes. The point isn’t whether or not you agree. In fact, it is very much the opposite of that. The point is helping people with various viewpoints and goals (whether they be artistic, environmental, social, Christian, corporate, etc.) acquire the necessary resources to start and facilitate the kind of conversation that will help us collectively reach the best possible outcome.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I don’t think the people in charge have ever listened particularly well. What I am suggesting that there is a difference between, say, just ignoring what an environmentally interested organization has to offer, and removing their charitable status and thus their ability to raise money, produce research, and circulate information. Or, if you want to get even more Conservative, just wiping them off of the map entirely.

You see, the Conservatives approach to tolerating dissenting opinions was articulated even further earlier this week by Minister of Foreign Affairs John Baird, when he was re-explaining why his government was eliminating funding to the National Round Table on the Environment and the Economy (NRTEE).

Lets back this truck up: Since 1988, the NRTEE (an independent, scientific, arms-length, public organization) has been tasked with producing research on how business and government policies can work together for sustainable development. This year, their budget reduced to zero. This week, Baird confirmed that they were shut down because all they do is produce research on how business and government policies can work together for sustainable development.

There’s nothing particularly shocking about this. It’s annoying, but I’ve found Conservatives annoying for a long time now. Baird, though, kept talking. Speaking in the House of Commons, the Honourable Member said, verbatim, "Why should taxpayers have to pay for more than 10 reports promoting a carbon tax, something that the people of Canada have repeatedly rejected?”

Okay. Maybe. I don’t actually remember us rejecting that, but whatever, Baird hates the carbon tax so much he thinks we shouldn't help people think about it. It gets better. Because next Baird said that if the NRTEE wanted to be a funded organization, they "should agree with Canadians.” At first I found this confusing, but he kindly clarified that what he meant is that: “It should agree with the government.”

Ding ding.

There it is. Grade A1 honesty. This is where we go from “if you don’t agree with us, we don’t want to hear about it,” to “if you don’t agree with us, we don’t want anybody to hear about it, and we will actively try and prevent you from having the resources to communicate your independent research.”

Now, I happen to think the notion of a carbon tax is - in many ways - a deeply flawed idea. Does that mean that I don’t think we should ask someone who isn’t motivated one way or the other by carbon-profits to look into it, and to do their best to convince me otherwise? Of course it doesn’t. I want to know about what they find, and I want to be given the opportunity to weigh their expertise and their biases against my own, so that I can make up my mind. I want the society I live in to be able to produce enough quality information to let me make an informed decision about my own values.

And this is what makes me think about the moment when Britney Spears stopped taking the advice of her manager, and started getting in and out of limousines without any underwear on.

I don’t mean Britney Spears should have done everything her coke-fueled, label-mandated, cash-eyed, record-shilling manager told her too, and I don't mean Conservatives should do everything an environmental charity says, but taking good advice is just as valuable a skill as rejecting bad advice. After all, where would we be if Johnny Cash had believed Sun Records' Sam Phillips when he said that dark gospel music wasn't commercially viable. If Andy Kauffman relented to critics and just told jokes? Or if former Prime Minister Paul Martin took his church seriously about the moral degradation that was sure to ensue from equal marriage? Or if Neil Young had just made the commercial record David Geffen wanted him to (again though, only sort of)?

But the over arching point here is that there is a difference between valuing advice and simply doing what you’re told. Because on the other hand, where would we be if the Talking Heads hadn’t reluctantly taken Brian Eno’s fine advice about the off-beat drum hit on Once In A Lifetime? If Butch Vig hadn’t tricked Kurt Cobain, against his will, into layering the guitars and double tracking his vocals on Nevermind? If Bruce Springsteen hadn’t taken his manager John Landau’s advice, and instead sold Hungry Heart to The Ramones like he wanted to do (true story)? If The Beatles hadn’t taken manager Brian Epstein’s advice and ditched the black leather onesies

When you fail to consider the fact that other people at the table with different ideas might be correct, it’s over. When you kick them off the team, you’re done. You’re done as a singer. You’re done as an artist. You’re done as a nation. You’re done as a society.

So, we’ve got a choice: On one hand, we can (metaphorically) invite David Geffin, and John Landau, and Brian Epstein, and Brian Eno, and Butch Vig, and Neil Young, and even John Baird (though I’m not promising I’ll be nice to him), and Paul Martin’s Priest, to the table. We can play a couple of rounds of cards, ask about the kids, and get down to the business of finding out who has the best idea. Alternatively, we can fire everyone who disagrees with us, suppress their ability to talk to others, and charge blindly forward into a pathetic world of wardrobe malfunctions, endless unwanted reunion tours, discount-bin-destined “Greatest Hits” records, public meltdowns, and front-page-tabloid death certificates.

Unfortunately, if I was hedging my bets, I’d be buying myself front row season’s ticket seats to the Fat-Later-Years-Canada traveling-circus-road-show in the hopes that I could be there to catch the handkerchief that we toss into the crowd after using it to wipe the alcohol-and-pills-fueled sweat off of our cellulite brow. I would take it home and never wash it and hang it up on the wall next to a picture of our country when we were young and skinny and pretty and we weren’t so damn worthless.

Sorry. Prove me wrong.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

CBC wants to put us on the FESTIVAL EXPRESS, but we need your help.

Check it out: Canada's national radio/television company, CBC, is planning a great big, festival-express style rock concert that travels across the country by train. I'm serious. It's called Tracks on Tracks and it features some of Canada's finest.

However, they've left room for three more Western-Canadian acts to jump on board, and they're deciding it all with one of those online voting contests. I doubt I have to express to you how much I love trains, and so you can only imagine my excitement to learn that my oh-so-Western-Canadian-side-project-super-group LMNOP (James Lamb, Corbin Murdoch, David Newberry, and some Other People) has made the long-list of eligible contestants. We're listed along side some ridiculously high-profile, super-talented, and very friendly artists, and so we would all really, really love if you could head over and help us keep on keepin' on this list. Or at least stay competitive.  The list is updated every Wednesday, so th e sooner you vote the better, and then return and vote the next week too. You get to vote for three acts at a time.

I appreciate your support. LMNOP and voting info below.
That's my real appeal at this stage.
Thanks so much everyone, for your ongoing support. It means the world.
As you know we've just put out a record, and I just took it on the road to Ontario and Quebec with some old friends and family. It was a real pleasure to be back out there, and the record is garnering some good reviews. I'll leave you with those for now, and see you on the flip side.
If you'd like to know what I'm up to, its all over at

Love and kindness,

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Re-Welcome, and Re-views. David Newberry's blog life gets spicy.

Oh hello, Poets.

I've been away. It's been a wild time. So much has happened. So little time to blog.

But that's over now, Poets, I softly promise that much. I intend to use this space to gather the musings I already create elsewhere, like on my website (, podcast (, journalism (such as contributions I have made to BC Musician and the Toronto Tempest), as well as my personal musings about life, the universe, and everything. Don't Panic.

But I'll start with an announcement that a record I started making 13 months ago has finally seen the light of day. It is called "No One Will Remember You," which, while it may sound negative, is actually a celebration of subtlety, and of doing things for the right reasons, not the flashy ones.

I'm trying to be as un-subtle as possible with this release, and the irony isn't lost on me. But we worked hard to make it and we want you to hear it. You never know what people will think when you give them something you love. It's a marriage proposal to yourself, of sorts, but the public decides the answer. Everyone who worked on this record is really proud of it, and stuffing it in the mailbox addressed to people who are professionally employed to be critical is a somewhat terrifying experience. But I'll tell you what: So far it has gone smashingly. If it's alright with you, I will make this post short, and just give you a snippet of what people are saying so far.

Okay, Poets, I will see you on the flip side. If you have any questions about the record or the tour you can visit my website or drop me a line at I miss you.

Exclaim! Magazine thinks that: "Newberry can be filed alongside the likes of young troubadours like Jerry Leger and Corin Raymond as evidence that Canadian roots music is in good hands."
Alan Cross (yeah) says that Newberry has "equal parts 'The River' era Springsteen and Neil Young folk rock elements in his music," and says we've made a "Soulful, really impressive sophomore album."

Megaphone Magazine observes that "Newberry’s style and sound straddle both folk and rock, and the album can feel both light and dark, somber and uplifting at the same time."
Roots Music Canada says the record is full of "Songs. Real songs, together with a sound that’s strong enough to set him apart from more everyday singer-songwriters."
ThoseWhoDig say: "Ripe with nostalgia, infectious melodies, and a comfortable feeling of song familiarity Dave Newberry's new release is a must have."

Victoria's Martlet says: "Alive with bright pedal steel and a sort of critical Canadiana, the album is flushed with sentimentality for Newberry’s home country as well as a frustration with its many ailments... Lyrical craftsmanship of a consistent calibre is the heart of this album."
Vancouver Weekly graciously states that: "Newberry’s cheekily-titled sophomore effort, released through Vancouver’s Northern Electric label and produced by Adam Iredale (of Fish and Bird), amplifies the momentum created by his 2010 solo debut, When We Learn The Things We Need To Learn."

Until next time!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

an open letter to the City of Edmonton

Provincial Court of Alberta

Law Courts

1A Sir Winston Churchill Square

Edmonton, AB T5J 0R2

01 November 2010

To whom it may concern,

Included is payment for a ticket I received in the city of Edmonton on October 4th, 2010 for 'failing to cross roadway within a crosswalk'. I accept guilt for this infraction, and as a result, am not contesting the violation. I would, however, like to make a brief comment about the 'policing' strategy that resulted in this situation.

I was given this ticket by peace officer Eric Diaz when I crossed an empty street from the downtown public library to the public square. Officer Diaz was not the only officer in the square that day. At one point, I observed five peace officers in the square giving tickets to everyone who crossed from the public library to the public square. I am aware of the fact that 'J-Walking' is a charge that was created under the auspices of pedestrian security, but these tickets (mine included) were handed out predominantly to people who had crossed the road in a manner that was completely safe, while the section of roadway in question was completely free of moving vehicles. However, my complaint is not with the by-law itself, but with the manner in which it was enforced. As we know, by-laws cannot be enforced upon everyone who violates them, but must be enforced selectively, and it is with this selection process that I believe your Peace Officers are acting in a misguided manner. I believe the group of people that was targeted in this scenario indicates a flawed approach not only to policing, but to urban development in general.

Aside from the fact that ticketing pedestrians seems a curious method of fundraising for a city that has undergone protracted periods of economic boom, mass-targeting people who are travelling from the library to the public square is a curious enforcement strategy that punishes the type of people that modern cities should desire, rather than push away. Further, users of these types of spaces, broadly speaking, tend to be from lower income brackets than street-crossers in other parts of the city. Targeting people with lower incomes is a maddening tactic of law enforcement. Most importantly, however, as cities transform in the 21st century, policing tactics that punish the type of people who would travel from one public space to another - for getting in the way of cars - promises to put your city on the wrong track to the future.

I am a musician and storyteller who travels Canada constantly, spending a fair amount of time in many different Canadian towns and cities. In time, your city would have received significantly more than 57 dollars in direct and indirect revenue from my time spent in Edmonton. However, I find the policing strategy behind this violation so wrong-headed, that this is the last 57 dollars I will spend within city limits. I tell the story of this municipal policing strategy regularly, and my audience members (including those in all parts of Alberta) find it equally curious and appalling.

To be clear, I am not reacting to or angry about my own personal financial loss, but instead, attempting to draw attention to the flaws in the overall policing strategy that I saw being applied for many hours on October 4th, and that I am told is applied fairly often.


David Newberry

CC: Edmonton city council.

now watch some fish and bird!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

How to cause trouble in the City of Champions

Along my most recent trail, I was given a warm welcome to the city of Edmonton by a man dressed up like a Mountie who called himself a 'Peace Officer'. We all know, in our heart of hearts, that J-Walking is a crime, but none the less, it came as a shock when I was criminally fined for trying to cross an empty street between the downtown library and the public square. It seems that despite years of protracted economic boom, the city of Edmonton is still in need of a little bit of old fashioned, street-level fundraising. Sure enough, the peace-force had stationed five of the city's finest in the public square, and they were picking off pedestrians by the pack-load. And while I do love Edmonton, it seems to me that a municipality bent on punishing the kind of folks who want to walk from the library to the public square is really scraping the bottom of the mayo jar to make one last sandwich. We've all seen them: The twenty-something men wandering around the club after last call - having given up on finding a mate for the evening - seeking out half-drunk abandoned rum and cokes to get him through to morning. Well, Edmonton, I will see you at the party.

Mind you, if the law has nothing better to do with their time then ticket book-learning, public-space-using, car-free nerds who want to rest their weary bones in the city's most social square, then somebody must be doing something right.

Here's a great song by my pal Rodney Decroo.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Howard Zinn...

Howard Zinn died.
They're different folks, but its like when Vonnegut died, and you look around and think 'who is left'? Who replaces Howard Zinn? I don't think its Michael Moore, I don't think its Naomi Klein...