Entertainment Features

David Wilcox

David Wilcox

By David DeRocco GoBeWeekly.com                            dave@gobeweekly.com  https://twitter.com/?lang=en 

When you’re passionate about what you do for a living, it’s easy to continue going to work – even when you’re in the sixth decade of your career. For an artist like David Wilcox, performing on stage is more than a passion – it’s an absolute necessity.

“Performing is like oxygen to me,” said Wilcox, a staple on the Niagara concert scene since embarking on his solo career in the mid-1970s. “I really love playing music and singing, especially for people. It’s not the same without an audience as we found out during the lockdown. It’s my favourite thing to do.”

Most fans know David Wilcox as the writhing guitar master with the soulful voice whose music offers an alluring blend of rock, blues, country, ragtime and other roots styles. However, many may not know that prior to his solo success as a rock guitarist Wilcox toured as part of Great Speckled Bird, backup band for Canadian folk legends Ian and Syliva Tyson. It was there Wilcox earned his touring chops, playing backup for acts as diverse as Anne Murray, Carl Perkins, Todd Rundgren, and Paul Butterfield. It was also with Ian and Sylvia where Wilcox enjoyed one of his earliest career highlights.

“Backing up Ian and Sylvia in Great Speckled Bird was just a marvelous experience,” said Wilcox. “On one tour we got to play Carnegie Hall. I had a really magical night there. We got a wonderful reception from the audience. Ian even introduced me twice. That was really a great affirmation to me.”

Wilcox eventually left Great Speckled Bird for a solo career which began with the release of his debut album, 1977’s Out of the Woods. That album went gold and produced three top hits and fan favourites, “Do The Bearcat,” “Bad Apple,” and “That Hypnotizin’ Boogie,” a song that found its way onto the soundtrack for the Tom Cruise movie Cocktail. Wilcox’s follow-up album, My Eyes Keep Me In Trouble, became his second straight gold record on the strength of such songs as “Downtown Came Uptown” and “Riverboat Fantasy.”

As good as the songs sounded on the radio, it was the manic physical energy of his live playing that helped establish David Wilcox as one of Canada’s most dynamic performers. Wilcox credits that early success to the songs themselves and the way they translated seamlessly to the stage.

“In the beginning I didn’t have any records that people knew, so the songs had to be about something the audience could relate to,” said Wilcox, who now has nine solo albums to his credit along with several greatest hits compilations. “That was probably good for me as a songwriter, to have to write songs that would work well on stage and quickly connect with an audience.”

With multiple gold and platinum albums to his credit, Wilcox has remained one of Canada’s most enduring musical artists. As a musician, he continues to evolve his craft through regular practice, suggesting “there’s always more to learn. I’m looking for things that move my soul, things that I think feel good and sound good, and then I hope the audience feels the same way.”

And what will the audience be in for when he takes the stage at FirstOntario Performing Arts Centre? If you’ve seen Wilcox before, then you already know the answer.

“First of all, they can expect a rockin’ good time, a few surprises, and lots of familiar tunes as well. Really, anytime I feel the audience is really with us and we’re playing really well, a good performance, a good solo, just feeling one with the audience is the greatest highlight.”


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