Entertainment Local

Carl Dixon returns to the Ottawa Valley for Festival Hall's Red Carpet Event

Rick Wharton

By Rick Wharton, Special to The Daily Observer

Carl Dixon will be performing as part of the Festival Hall Centre for the Arts Red Carpet Event this Thursday, April 21. He is well known for his band Coney Hatch and he has also played with the Guess Who and April Wine.

Carl Dixon will be performing as part of the Festival Hall Centre for the Arts Red Carpet Event this Thursday, April 21. He is well known for his band Coney Hatch and he has also played with the Guess Who and April Wine.

Editor's note: Rick Wharton, actor, comedian, radio personality, The Conspiracy Guy, and Festival Hall director, brings The Daily Observer readers exclusive interviews with some of the big name acts coming to Festival Hall. Instead of traditional story format, these pieces are brought to you in the question and answer format in the same way the interviews took place. So let's be a fly on the wall and hear what one of Canada's best singer songwriters, Carl Dixon (www.carldixon.com), had to say during his '10 minutes with Rick.'

Rick: So we finally get you back to the Ottawa Valley. Great to have you perform with us on the big show on April 21st. We have tried to book you a few times but the stars were not in place. When was the last time you were up in Pembroke?

Carl: It must have been back in the Coney Hatch days, early 80's. Maybe even before that, with my Montreal-based band Firefly.

Rick: You have so been busy not only playing over the years with your band Coney Hatch but with April Wine and the Guess Who. Now you are an author, with a great book called Strange Way To Live, and you're a motivational speaker making  many appearances...how do you juggle all this and keep producing your own solo material and appearances?

Carl: You're right. Something has to give. I skimp on sleep and personal grooming. Just kidding. There's enough time for everything if you prioritize properly. Also, the tour schedule looks more demanding then it really is.

Rick: You were born in Sault Ste. Marie went to school in Barrie and lived in Montreal and Toronto. You have family and also stayed in Australia. You have toured all over Canada, the U.S. and Europe. Where do you feel is home?

Carl: You're right again. I've seen a lot of marvellous places in this big old world. I make my home very happily now in Haliburton, Ontario, maybe 200 km west of Pembroke. I lived here a couple of years as a kid, and returned full time in 2005.

Rick: Who are you music influences? Did you ever get to meet any of them? Or what are some cool moments you've shared with some of the people you've met?

Carl: I had lots of important influences, among them the Guess Who and April Wine! It was a weird but wonderful feeling to be in those bands many years later. Lucky for me they kept going long enough for me to catch up with them! Also the Beatles, Jethro Tull, Rolling Stones, Creedence Clearwater Revival, and the first wave of Canadian recording acts in the 70's who used to play my high school every year: Stampeders, Fludd, A Foot in Coldwater. Seeing those guys up close made it easier to imagine myself doing the same thing one day.

Rick: Coney Hatch is easily in the Top 20 bands/acts to come out of Canada. What are you thoughts in 2016 on your band, reunions and the new product you released?

Carl: Our 2013 reunion album Coney Hatch Four turned out even better than I had hoped, and was our most satisfying record-making experience together in some ways. My dear friend Andy Curran and I found a whole new level of partnership where we just supported each other through the album in every way, as opposed to the old days where we were competing as well as co-operating. There's a deep affection for each other in the band, and real bro-love in those deep savage rock tunes!

Rick: In 2008, you were in a horrific car accident in Melbourne, Australia. Many thought you would not make it. Many people were cheering and praying for you. Your comeback and journey has been huge and inspiring. What got you through?

Carl: First, I will give credit to my guardian angel or angels for that miraculous outcome. The trauma to my body from the collision was off the scale. There were many reasons that I could have died that night, and it was only through a combination of good people coming to my aid at the scene and at the hospital that I was brought along to enjoy more days on this earth. Something beyond mere luck was at work to have so many people arrive to help me in those critical first hours.

Second, I did have a role to play in my own survival. I remember nothing of the crash and was only semi-conscious during the first minutes of the extended rescue, but I've spent my whole life taking care of my health, my fitness and my body. I've never used drugs, never smoked a cigarette and drank only moderately and occasionally. I was playing hockey three times a week at the time of my accident, could run 10 km easily and did exercise every day. That meant my system was in optimal condition to cope with a crisis. The Australian doctors said If I hadn't built such strength and fitness it would have been over before I could have been removed from the car.

I also possess huge determination, which some people call stubbornness, born of necessity over a long artistic career. In a life which presented me with many opportunities to quit, I never did. I think that must have been in my mind as returned to life, that feeling that I must keep going on and can't let anybody down.

Rick: I have always admired that you love to do live shows, love to record and try new music and are open to anything"¦now you are writing music for television but this is not new for you"¦

Carl: Writing for TV or movie productions is a fun challenge because you have to convey the sense of what the story is telling in a way that enhances the story and adds power to the pictures the music supports. The requests from the visual people can be very specific but that's good; if you pay attention they almost write the piece for you!

Rick: What artists are you listening to these days? New versus established? 

Carl: Mostly I'm playing vinyl from my large collection; everything from jazz to classical to blues to country to African music to rock. Very little Screamo-metal has found its way into my playlist however.

Rick: Looking forward to your guest appearance. Hopefully you can bring your merchandise for people to purchase, books and cds, etc.

Carl: I'll have books and CD's there yes! No T-shirts at present, sorry folks.

Rick: Thanks for coming my friend.

Carl: Thanks Rick! I'm really happy to be part of the Festival Hall Red Carpet Event.

The inaugural Festival Hall Red Carpet Celebrity Gala opens its doors at 6 p.m. on Thursday, April 21, with the show starting at 7:30.

For more information, or to order tickets, visit www.festhall.ca or call 613-735-2182.

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