- New West Anchor
- A New West fundraiser 40 years in the making
A New West fundraiser 40 years in the making
With his debut album, Michael Dunn is helping to support the next generation of musicians.
If you listen closely to the title track in Michael Dunn’s debut album “Bridge Across the Years”, you’ll hear a timpani. Not only was that timpani recorded at New Westminster Secondary (NWSS), half of the album sales are going towards helping NWSS.
As much as Dunn is new to the album-making industry, he certainly isn’t a stranger to helping out the local music community, including the NWSS music department.
“When I decided to put my first show together around five or six years ago, coming out of nowhere, I thought, “Okay, how can we get some publicity for this show? I thought, ‘let’s find some cause to support, and I want it to be music related.’ I’ve got three adult daughters who all went to NWSS and they all went to the music program. So I saw firsthand how hard the team at NWSS works to instill a love for music, and they were struggling at the time (...). I thought, ‘Why don’t we tie in a fundraiser with NWSS?”’ Dunn explained.
This time, it’s to help them purchase a new tuba, which costs $8000. With Dunn’s newly released album, 50 per cent of the sales will be going to NWSS–that’s about $10 per CD sold.
Ensuring that the next generation has a love for music is one of the important things that Dunn wants to support.
The “Bridge Across the Years” team. Michael Dunn
“If you take someone who's in their 40s and you try to turn them on to music, it's a real tough challenge. But if you can take a younger person and educate them about music so they can hear the difference between the bass part in the first verse and the bass part in the second verse, it’s not just noise in the background, they're actually listening and hearing the nuances. (...) So supporting good music instruction is really critical if we want to have a healthy music environment in the coming years,” he said.
Dunn isn’t a newbie to the music industry either. He’s challenging the status quo around age in the industry, and is finally getting to hear two songs he wrote more than 40 years ago come to life.
“One of the songs had a keyboard part which simulated strings, and I always thought it would sound really cool to have real strings. So we went into the studio with some string players and did it ‘properly.’ And just to hear it the way I always imagined it in my head was just an amazing experience,” he shared.
Although Dunn started in the music industry in a band and working at a music studio, he left for a few decades to work in sales and marketing.
About five years ago, his passion for music was kick-started again when putting together shows at the Columbia Theatre to help support local artists.
The thing that finally pushed him to start recording his music was the passing of his father.
“He passed away at 98. And when you've got a parent that lives to that age, you start to assume that they're always going to be here and therefore by extension that I will always be here and his passing was a wake up call that none of us has forever, and it’s like, ’okay Michael, stop talking about it, do it,”” he shared.
In putting together the band for the album, Dunn faced some other challenges, including finding musicians who wanted to participate in an album that couldn’t guarantee success.
The band that he assembled was not just limited to New West. Instead, they had members recording from Berlin, Winnipeg, the UK, and Vancouver, which were all combined to make one seamless album that Dunn has always envisioned.
“There were times when I couldn't play guitar because I was just so enthralled with what the other two guys were doing. I couldn't focus because it was just so cool to hear them bringing it together, and neither have played together before, but they just synced up and they fed off each other,” he reflected, smiling.
Although the album hosts a number of widespread musicians, its heart is rooted in New West, and it’s evident just by looking at the album cover, which features an artistic rendition of the Patullo Bridge.
Bridge Across the Years album cover./ Michael Dunn
The album features three New West musicians and was primarily recorded in New West’s Little Red Sounds studio.
For Dunn, this is perfectly in line with his passion for helping local artists develop sustainable music careers, which is part of what he is trying to learn more about through the production of his album.
“One of the things that had been really bugging me for years is the state of the music industry for the vast majority of artists. It's almost impossible to make a living nowadays. And the biggest struggle I see is how does an unknown company artist, build an audience to the point where they can have a sustainable career, and I'm not talking about becoming filthy stinking rich, just talking about being able to have a job that pays you so you don't need two or three other jobs to make ends meet,” he explained.
In the future, Dunn is hoping to host a liveshow, and possibly even restart his Columbia Theatre program (likely in a new location) that gives local artists an opportunity to perform for a live audience.
You can buy the CD and help support NWSS to buy a new tuba at Dunn’s website. Be sure to purchase through the NWSS landing page so that the funds go to the school.