Nomination Statements and Letters of Support
for the FMO Estelle Klein Award:
In 2014, internationally respected conductor and composer David Amram attended a jam in Toronto organized in honour of his visit. To quote Amram that night, “when David Woodhead walks in, he upgrades the situation”. Whether at a gig, folk festival, music camp, in the studio or just at a jam, David Woodhead will give his all, and has been doing so in the music world for nearly 50 years.
his music career in 1974 near Stratford,
Ontario, joining the ground-breaking Perth
County Conspiracy (“does not exist”). The next
year, working with Cedric Smith and Terry
Jones of PCC, David performed on the CBC radio
show “Touch the Earth”, produced by Paul
Mills. Paul then recommended David to Stan
Rogers, who was just launching his career.
Stan subsequently invited David to join him
and his brother Garnet on tour, and to play on
his records. David's contributions to the
legendary album Fogarty's Cove, both on bass
and guitar, are still fresh and indeed
timeless. After Stan's death in 1983, David
lent his support to Garnet for his first solo
tour, and would go on to record over nine
albums with him. Later in the 80's, David
collaborated with Loreena McKennitt, helping
her to evolve her live concert sound. The
number of artists David has supported is truly
remarkable – he has contributed to over 300
Canadian folk records. Valdy, Scott Merritt,
Brent Titcomb. Sneezy Waters, Laura Smith, The
Sultans of String, David Francey, David
Bradstreet, Marie-Lynn Hammond – the list goes
on. Currently, David continues to work with
Donné Roberts and James Keelaghan.
In 1988 David played a Fast Folk Underground live recording in Toronto with Tim Harrison, Loreena McKennitt and Bob Carpenter. Also playing at this ambitious event were Don Ross and Oliver Schroer. They met, instantly connected, and David became a member of the Eye Music quartet with Don, Oliver and Mark Duggan. Thus began a life long friendship and collaboration with Oliver Schroer, until his tragic death in 2008. Since then David has organized annual tributes to Oliver embracing the younger fiddle community that has blossomed in Toronto. Much more than that, David has continued to help out many of Toronto's younger folk artists, recording demos in his studio, playing on their first records, and generally acting as an experienced ear, nurturing and advising. During the pandemic David hosted numerous outdoor jams that helped keep the acoustic instrumental community playing together.
working with Oliver, David has developed his
own musical statement as composer and band
leader with his own Confabulation and most
recently the Oriana Quartet. David has been a
familiar face onstage at folk festivals since
since the 70's, during which time Estelle
Klein created the “workshop” format at folk
festivals. David personifies the magic that
can happen at a festival when two or more
musicians, who have likely never played
together before, meet on stage and
spontaneously collaborate to create a unique
experience for themselves and the
audience-members. Indeed, in May of 2004
Estelle herself called David and invited him
to come and play at a Tribute Concert to her
at Hugh's Room in Toronto.
LETTERS of SUPPORT:
Liz Scott, AD, Mariposa Folk Festival:
that David steps onto is elevated by his
virtuosic playing, his generous spirit, and
his ability to cruise in and out of songs with
a humble, intuitive brilliance. He’s welcomed
with open arms by every artist, presenter and
Artistic Director. The music always seems
warmer and more soulful when David is around.
Paul Mills, producer:
It isn't possible to overestimate the contributions David Woodhead has made to the very sound and nature of Canadian folk music. In a career that has spanned more that fifty years, David's wonderful and very unique musicianship has contributed to the excellence of hundreds of albums by iconic Canadian folk artists such as Stan Rogers, Garnett Rogers, Loreena McKennitt, Laura Smith, Oliver Schroer, Don Ross, Valdy, James Keelaghan and many others. I first met David when I was recording some members of the Perth County Conspiracy for my CBC Radio folk music program, Touch the Earth. David was the bass player on the session, and I was very impressed. As it turns out, my friend Stan Rogers was looking for a bass player at the time and I recommended David. He became Stan's regular bass player for many years after that and appeared on Stan's first two albums which I produced. Overall, In my career as a record producer, I used David as a bass player on a huge percentage of the nearly 200 albums I produced over the years. He always brought incredible musicianship to the studio and his unique musical sense always helped push the tracks out of the ordinary and into new and refreshing directions. I really think that David's unmatched musical vision has helped push the boundaries of Canadian folk music and helped to make it better.
Emilyn Stam, musician:
been incredibly supportive and encouraging to
me since I
Thom Lambert, Haliburton Folk Society:
"David has taught for us at Winter Folk Camp many times. What I am always struck by is his ability to translate his obvious genius for the complexities of music into experiences that are accessible for musicians of all abilities. He is a warm and generous teacher who delights in musical achievement at any level. As a musician, David can sit in with virtually anyone. As a teacher, he can make virtually any student feel challenged and comfortable at the same time."
Jaron Freeman-Fox, musician:
It is always an immense pleasure and a joy to work with David Woodhead. No matter the situation, whether in his capacity as a hired instrumentalist, composer, bandleader, or producer, David performs at the highest calibre of quality, creativity and professionalism, always managing to cross over into the role of mentor, historian, and dear friend. I don’t know if I’ve ever known someone who so constantly and consistently demonstrates his care and commitment to Canada’s folk music tapestry.
“Front Yard Oli” Video:
During the first summer of the pandemic David organized a jam in his front yard to celebrate the music of Oliver Schroer. Participating in the event are fiddlers Emilyn Stam, Jaron Freeman-Fox, Anne Lindsay, Lea Kirstein, Nathan Smith and more.