Running Stop Signs with Marshall Dane

Cover, Aug 26, 2011

By Sandy Graham

When you first speak to Marshall Dane you can actually feel the effervescent and mischievous personality coming through the phone, making you feel like you have known him all your life. Dane is that comfortable with himself, and he makes you feel that way too.

“I am one of seven children, the poor forgotten middle child’, he deadpans, then starts to laugh. The truth is Marshall Dane was born into a large musical family in St. Catharines, Ontario with a mother who played and taught piano (in between feeding her large brood) and every Sunday they all traipsed over to Grandma’s house for the weekly ‘jamboree’. ‘Everyone played an instrument; Dad on guitar, Grandpa on violin, my various sisters on piano, and I stood outside with my soccer ball, looking in the window. When I asked my Dad if I could join in, he said I could learn to play guitar. He was the one that showed me there are over 500 songs you can learn to play with only three chords.”

“My Grandma’s favourite singers were Bing Crosby, John Denver, and most of all Kenny Rogers. That is when I got hooked on songwriters and the stories they could tell. I would believe Kenny Rogers when he sang about being ‘The Gambler’, or Johnny Denver when he sang about ‘Rocky Mountain High’. I started writing songs when I was 15 years old and I haven’t stopped since.”

Songs that are on his new CD, ‘Running Stop Signs’, are proof that songwriters were a major influence on Dane. ‘Bad Choices’ is a self-reflective tune, “I’m not a bad guy, I just make some bad choices” then goes on to say “seem to tell the man by the road he chooses” or in ‘Love and Alcohol’ he warns ‘the combination is dangerous, every time I mix ‘em up, I end up saying something I don’t mean’ ending with ‘it ain’t my fault, blame it on love and alcohol’. So if you are starting to think this is one cocky cowboy, you are right. Until you watch the video of ‘About Last Night’, and you realize there is a huge heart lurking under this cowboy’s hat. (Watch the video on his website to get the whole story.) ‘This Rain’ will remind you of early Springsteen; ‘Sorry About the Mess’ is a familiar chant we have all done when a relationship leaves you so done in, you let your life (and usually your surroundings) fall into a shambles until you can pick up the pieces.

“This CD has taken me two years to get it ‘out there’. I spent about a year and a half writing it, picking the best, arranging the songs, and finally getting into the studio with Producer Brian Allen to get to this point now. I knew Brian Allen for about six years, and then one year, when I was at the CCMA’s in Winnipeg, it finally hit me – he was right – the country market is for me. I called him in Toronto and said ‘these are my people, take me to Nashville!’ and it all went from there. Brian took me to Nashville, and we went to song pluggers and pitchers to see what material was out there, and to truthfully pitch my tunes as well, and perhaps find songwriting partners for the future. I had seven day writing schedules with the best of the best. It finally hit me one night, out on Broadway in Nashville, I looked around at all the incredible talent performing in bars and on street corners, and I realized each and every one of them were wishing they could have the chance that I already had in my hands – just to get in the door and pitch your music. It was a pretty amazing realization.”

Dane didn’t always dance with the music business as his way of earning a living. He grew up in a household of executives, bankers and corporate professionals and went down that road for many years. “I finally got the corner office, two offices actually, window view and a big cheque. That was the day I handed in my resignation, and made my music my life. My peers were shocked, but the truth is, this is all I want to do. I am a songwriter, and there is nothing better in this world than standing there singing those songs to your fans. No one can talk me out of this now.”

Just back from a recent tour of the Arctic, Dane had this to say, “This was my fourth tour of the Arctic, and I always return more centered and humbled about myself and my life. You do anywhere from 8 to 16 performances per tour, and they are so appreciative of the arts. We usually follow a major guest like David Suzuki or Margaret Atwood; the great thing is the Expedition Company that organizes these tours rank art and music at the same level as science. The people that live in the Arctic pay attention and respect nature. We get so caught up in our lives here, we forget to take that time to listen, to watch, and enjoy nature. They might not understand the lyrics to my songs, but they love to sing along. ‘You Are My Sunshine’ is a great sing-a-long tune. I learn from them every time I go there.”

Marshall Dane has been signed to The Agency Group on Nick Meinema’s roster. He has opened for Alan Jackson, Aaron Pritchett, Gord Bamford, Emerson Drive, Doc Walker to name a few. Brian Allen produced and Jason Barry engineered the new album “Running Stop Signs”. Marshall co-wrote many of the tracks with great writers such as Paul Brandt, Jason Matthews, and Dan Murph. Brian Allen had this to say about Marshall Dane, “I have never met a more hard-working artist in all the years of my career. Marshall is indefatigable; he wants this career, and nothing will stop him from getting there. He has it all, the looks, the talent, the songs, and the drive. Allen goes on to say, “he is the worst shuffleboard player in the world though. There was a shuffleboard in this café near the motel we bunked in during the recording of the CD. Marshall was too young to remember a shuffleboard so I kicked his ass. Probably the only time that will happen.”

Marshall Dane is also on this year’s roster at the prestigious CCMA Country Music Week Kick-Off Party/New Artist Showcase on September 9 at the Chedoke Ballroom, in the Hamilton Convention Centre. ( Dane keeps himself busy appearing on his own headline shows, and getting ready for touring in 2012.

When asked what his future plans are Dane says ‘I'm going to start paying attention to to get them to pay attention to me.’

There are two sides to Marshall Dane, the bad boy kick-ass country singer and the incredible songwriter whose heart and soul is in his ballads. Buy the new CD, ‘Running Stop Signs’, and you will experience just that – but there is only one Marshall Dane and we are sure to hear more about him in the very near future.