The Songwriters – Diane Chase, Steve Fox, Duane Steele - A Review
The Songwriters - gifted writers and singers of country music
A review by Rosemary Phillips, November 2003
I had to choose – The Songwriters or laundry. I chose The
Songwriters and I’m glad I did. The laundry will just have
It was a cold Sunday. The first snow of the year had melted by
noon and the sky was overcast - a perfect day to visit the Grand
Forks Art Gallery, nestle into a comfy sofa (it pays to arrive early),
have a hot cup of coffee, enjoy the artwork and listen to some top-class
professional country musicians.
“Subliminal marketing,” gallery curator Paul Crawford
calls it. He’ll try just about anything to get people in to
look at the art. “Even monster trucks – but they don’t
Today it was The Songwriters, three very gifted country music writers
and singers - Diane Chase, Steve Fox and Duane Steele - each accomplished
in their own right - with Jason Berry on guitar.
Steve Fox - award winning songwriter
The spotlights directed at artwork dimmed slightly and the show
began. Steve Fox, whose country songs have earned him countless
awards including SOCAN Song of the Year in 2000, started off with
a song about family. “I used to write about love and broken
hearts and then I got married and had kids,” he said jovially
as he began.
He set the pace for the afternoon, singing from the heart. Safe
comfortable songs to match the comfort of the gallery. There were
no microphones, no amps, no PAs giving electrical hums, just straight
pure voices and mellow guitars, all in tune and harmony and complemented
by the great acoustics in the room.
Diane Chase - songs that touch the heart
Diane Chase, recording artist and songwriter from Ontario, then
led the group into a beautiful love song full of expression, passion,
joy – “In Love”.
Duane Steele - a voice that could soothe any troubled
Next was Duane Steele. He’s described as being one of Canada’s
top country stars with a string of hit singles and videos. It must
be his voice. It has such a beautiful depth and resonance. His promo
says he’s an engaging performer who connects one-on-one with
his audience. This is true. He connected the moment the group began,
linking with folk around the room with a warm smile. His first song
of the afternoon, composed in a library, was about writing a guidebook
on misery. There was pain, truth and humour.
Working together as a team on tour
While Fox, Chase and Steele sang and played, Jason Barry, guitarist
and recording producer, accompanied them, adding those musical components
that fill the song and make it complete. Together they wove stories
and music. The key word here is ‘together’. They supported
each other, worked with each other, and honestly gave the other
credit and praise when it was due. It was all so wonderfully human
- no pretensions.
Each shared their lives, their loves, their stories, through all
emotions, with songs like “Moving to a Small Town,”
“Hooked on Trains”, “Creole Soirée”,
“She Moved”, and an enlightening song by Chase about
folk being so busy making a living that they don’t have “Time
to Make a Life”. The music was not just country, it was also
folk with a little pop. There was something for everyone. Feet bobbed
up and down. Toes tapped in rhythm. For slower tempos bodies swayed.
Interaction with the audience in smaller venues
There’s a special intimacy with this kind of performance
– interaction between performers and audience, like everything
is happening in your own living room. Ask a question, you get an
answer. There’s no huge stage filled with equipment as a barrier.
Fox, Chase and Steele talked about the songs, how they were created,
and the musicians who have recorded them. Each gave a slice of life,
then left us with food for thought in their closing numbers.
Food for though in the lyrics
Steele sang “I’ll be alright.” His voice penetrated
the feelings of despair as a relationship ends, change looms; and
yet through it all soars the positive note that he will be all right.
Chase finished with “Pennies from Heaven.” When things
seem tough we can find “pennies from heaven, diamonds in the
rough, stars in a rainbow…”
And Fox completed the afternoon with his comedic and yet deeply
reflective hit, “Daddy Won’t Sell the Farm.” While
concrete surrounds the green fields Daddy still won’t sell,
So it may have been cold out on the streets of Grand Forks, but
in the Gallery it was warm, very warm. And really inspiring for
those who attended.
The laundry? It will get done tomorrow.
For more information on these Songwriters visit the Diane
Chase, and Duane
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