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This time last year, the perils of a St. John’s winter were far from Andrew Dale’s mind.
Along with Geraldine Hollett and Phil Chuchill, his bandmates in celebrated Newfoundland folk trio The Once, Dale was playing shows in Austria, Germany and Switzerland, and gearing up for a two-month Australian tour.
A year later, the band is ready to kick off a tour that keeps them much closer to home and it all starts with the Newfoundland Symphony Orchestra’s (NSO) ExxonMobil Big Ticket event this Friday at Mile One Centre.
“I've been a fan of classical music for a really long time anyway, so, for me, seeing the NSO shine as they always do, that's a treat enough in itself, but there's always something extra special when they collaborate with local musicians or other musicians from other genres,” Dale says of the club venue show which also features Fortunate Ones, Sherman Downey and Matthew Byrne.
The Coley’s Point, Conception Bay North native says to share the stage with such a list of talented peers is treat enough, but to do so with an entire orchestra at one’s back makes it all that more special.
The Once has performed their distinctive three-part harmonies alongside the NSO in the past, and it’s an experience that is as rewarding for the musicians as it is for the audience.
“As much as I love just making music with Phil and Geri... together you're capturing a few colours out of the prism, whereas when you collaborate with a symphony orchestra it's like you're letting the entire light of a stained-glass window just kind of shine through and shine out across an audience with your music.”
The NSO ExxonMobil Big Ticket is the only fundraiser for your NSO! Get your ticket now to enjoy a musical evening with...Posted by Newfoundland Symphony Orchestra on Wednesday, February 19, 2020
After the Big Ticket show, The Once will embark on a nine-day, six-date small-market tour of the Maritime provinces in mid-March, hitting destinations such as Georgetown, P.E.I.’s King’s Playhouse and Marigold Cultural Centre in Truro, N.S.
As small-town folks themselves, Dale says the familiarity with all things small town lends them a degree of comfort when they roll into town for a one-night peformance.
“When we play in a bigger city, it's a bit of a dop in the bucket… because there's lots going on, there's lots of distractions and things you could be doing, whereas in smaller towns maybe that's the only thing going on that night and we take that very seriously,” Dale explains.
“Maybe we feel a little more seen in the smaller towns. We feel like we can sort of become a little bit of a part of the fabric of that town with a little less resistance.”
On a quiet Monday afternoon in between errands, Dale offered no resistance when it came to offering The Telegram’s 20 Questions.
1. What is your full name?
Andrew William Dale.
2. Where and when were you born?
September 1981 at the Grace Hospital here in St. John's.
3. Where do you live today?
West end downtown St. John's.
4. What’s your favourite place in the world?
Coley's Point. That's home. If I had to pick a second to my beloved home town, I really love Montreal. The first time my now-wife Erin and I took a little trip to neutral territory, it was Montreal. It's had a very special place in my heart ever since. That and I'm huge Habs fan.
5. Who do you follow on social media?
If I do turn my attention to social media, I let some of the bigger personalities do the navigating for me. I'll see what Mark Critch has to say, I'll see what Allan (Doyle) is up to. I'll check out the latest jaw-dropping photography from Tom Cochrane on the west coast — amazing stuff — I'll see if Paddy Barry has any interesting bits of archival history to put forth. I tend to keep it local.
6. What would people be surprised to learn about you?
I played bass in a metal band — The Front — in junior high. At the same time, I was a Calico Stepper and did step dancing out in Brigus with Vanda Maunder. I was also playing the upright bass with the youth orchestra here in town. Every Sunday, we'd load the double bass into the car — the neck and headstock of the bass would be up on the dash — and they'd bring me in every Sunday for a little lesson with Frank Fusari and then have a three-hour youth orchestra rehearsal.
7. What’s been your favourite year and why?
2009. That was the year that I think I got a real clear sense of what I was going to do for the rest of my life. It was the year the debut album of The Once was created and came out, the first album from The Dardanelles came out — I played the bouzouki with the Dards at the very beginning — and then Amelia Curran's "Hunter, Hunter," which I was heavily involved with, came out at the end of the summer as well. That was the year the stars aligned.
8. What is the hardest thing you’ve ever done?
Singing at my father's funeral. That was hard. I'm still not entirely sure how I got through it.
9. Can you describe one experience that changed your life?
Meeting my Erin. I remember it so clearly, seeing her sat at the bar at The Company House on Gottingen Street in Halifax. I swear to God this is the truth, I saw her and there was almost like a quiet in my mind, like a peace that came over me saying, "Ah-ha, it's you. You're the one." That changed my life because that's the person — even though she doesn't know it yet — I'm going to spend the rest of my life with. Another one would be the Passenger world tour that The Once did in 2014 and 2015. We got a glimpse at a side of the industry we hadn't seen at that point and I don't just mean the size and scale, it was so revelatory because we got to see how good people can be in spite of their success.
10. What’s your greatest indulgence?
Steak frites. Not the big beefeaters, but the almost like shoestring fries, perfectly crispy on the outside. And a good glass of wine.
11. What is your favourite movie or book?
"The Lord of the Rings." The movie, not the book. Tolkien is brilliant, but Peter Jackson totally knocked it out of the park with that trilogy. ("Clue" and "Fantastic Mr. Fox" get honourable mentions.) Favourite book: "East of Eden" by John Steinbeck.
Hey All, Don’t know if we have put this out there yet, but we are touring Eastern Canada next month. Like Eastern, Eastern. We will do one show in NL on Feb 28 with the NSO and then we hit NS, NB and PE. That’s pretty cool. Come out and let’s bring on spring together. Show winter it didn’t get the best of us. In fact we had fun in spite of it. Here are the dates. See you down the road. Short little tour of some excellent places on our planet. Geri, Phil and Andy Share away! The Once March 13 - Georgetown, PE - The Kings Playhouse March 15 - Florenceville-Bristol, NB - Weldon Matthews Theatre March 19 - Pictou, NS - deCoste Performing Arts Centre March 20 - Chester, NS - Chester Playhouse Theatre March 21 - Margaretsville, NS - Evergreen Theatre March 22 - Truro, NS - Marigold Cultural Centre
12. How do you like to relax?
Being home with my wife. Curled up watching whatever. It doesn't even matter what we're doing as long as we're together and we got our feet up.
13. What are you reading or watching right now?
Right now I am reading John le Carré's "Tinker, Tailor, Soldier Spy."
14. What is your greatest fear?
Losing Erin, through whatever scenario that is. Not being able to wake up next to her anymore.
15. How would you describe your personal fashion statement?
Practically put together. I like to look good, but I also like to be comfortable. Also, I loves a good hat.
Well after a whirlwind couple of days in New Orleans for @folk_alliance with @theonceband I’m headed back home to my beloved St. John’s. Thanks @aircanada for getting me there and back again. Feels appropriate to be sitting by the #emergency exit after this past week :) St. John’s, I can’t wait to see your snowy smiling face. #headedhome #stjohns #tourlife #folk #music #travel #winter #soe #snowmageddon
16. What is your most treasured possession?
My bouzouki. It was made for me by Ron Belanger in Orillia, Ont. Made it for me in 2010. It's seen the world.
17. What physical or personality trait are you most grateful to a parent for?
My smile, from mom.
18. What three people would join you for your dream dinner party?
Erin, Phil and Geraldine. Dream edition: Tom Waits, Willie Nelson, and Gord Downie at Gordon Pinsent's house.
19. What is your best quality, and what is your worst quality?
Trusting in the goodness of others, that's both.
20. What’s your biggest regret?
No regrets... yet.