By Ken Morrison Photo Provided
Carl Dixon - singer, musician and inspirational speaker comes to McGirk's Irish Pub this Friday, May 11th.
When talking with McGirk's owner Tim Ward about the upcoming show, he said, "I’m absolutely thrilled to have a musician of this caliber in my establishment, the intimate setting of the Jamison sound stage will be perfect for Carl I can’t wait! I am positive this will pave the way for many more of these fabulous concerts."
With a career spanning nearly 40 years, Carl Dixon has been a member of Coney Hatch, April Wine and The Guess Who. Throughout his musical career he's been on tours with many well known artists including Judas Priest, Iron Maiden, Triumph, Ted Nugent and many more.
In addition to touring, Carl has also had a hand in making music for several television shows and films.
All of that came to a halt when he was involved in a near fatal car accident while in Australia in 2008. After many months of therapy, Carl found the strength to not only move on, but to take his experiences and reach out and inspire others.
I was able to sit down with Carl and talk about the music industry, his autobiography and his inspirational work.
K.M. - You have a long and interesting career that took off in the early 80’s. The state of music has changed a lot compared to then, and much of what is being put out there has been described by some as “prepackaged or cookie cutter”. What do you think of the current state of music, and do up and coming original artists really have a chance to succeed anymore?
C.D. - Music is an unstoppable force and a natural thing for humans to make, no matter what the state of the music business might be at any given time. There's a difference between what the corporate "machine' deems usable for music consumers and what people actually find stimulating or enjoyable. On a good day those two needs coincide.
Up and coming original artists have it tough. The digital revolution may have democratized music distribution, and many people who had felt shut out by the biz were excited about that in the 90's, "blowing up the biz, stickin' it to the man, shutting down those greedy record companies, YAY! Free music for everyone!"
What it really means is that now everybody has an equal chance to make it small. The record labels and their distribution arms were in the business of creating stars who made people excited to buy those little plastic discs.
The era of the "Rock Star" is over.
K.M. - That's sad, but true. Speaking of how much music has changed, in your early days you’ve mentioned how you listened to The Beatles, The Stones and CCR. Who do you listen to these days, any favorites?
C.D. - I have a range of listening taste that may surprise my old fans. Right now I have a CD compilation playing of Renaissance Masterpieces. The latest Chris Stapleton album is great; the CD of Willie Nelson and Merle Haggard from 2015 makes me happy, and there's a Mavis Staples gospel album that is currently on the car stereo. I listen to jazz a lot as well, Miles Davis, people like that. When I want to rock out? I'll go back to old faves mostly. The Black Crowes were the last "modern" band that I thought were really doing it right!
K.M. - Cool variety! Now, a lot of bands that we grew up with in the 70’s and 80’s are winding down, playing fewer dates, or are retiring altogether. What do you think the state of live music might be in the next 10 or 20 years?
C.D. - My prediction is that there will be fewer events where masses of people will buy tickets to see an act on tour. The shrinking of the business means less promotion goes out on a large scale, and it's hard to make people care about a new singer or band the way they used to. There isn't the lasting impact of a singer and their songs to society, sadly. For some time we've been in a period of "Better get out and see those old favourites while they're still with us".
Coney Hatch - Blown Away
K.M. - I even wonder if the days of stadium shows will be gone in 20 years. It's hard to imagine.
On a more serious note. After your life changing accident occurred and during your recovery, your doctors stated that you probably wouldn’t have made it if you hadn’t taken such good care of yourself all along. Was that the defining moment that helped you decide to become an inspirational speaker, or if not - when did it occur?
C.D. - First, it was enough to get that affirmation from the doctors that taking care of myself all those years had paid off for my survival! It didn't occur to me to pursue inspirational speaking until some time later, when the prospects were still very uncertain as to what I could or should do next. I'd lost my singing job with the Guess Who, had a family falling apart and was still on crutches with unhealed injuries and bad Post-Concussion Syndrome. It was years before I could perform on stage anything near how I used to be.
A friend who books corporate events suggested "Why don't you tell your story of the music career and your survival? People would enjoy that and might feel good from hearing it". It came from being very, VERY uncertain how things would turn out for me going forward. It was a case of "Okay, I survived. Broken, but I survived. Now what?"
K.M. - I couldn't even imagine.
Now, for those who don’t know about your inspirational speaking work. Can you tell us a little bit about how that has helped you grow as a person and how you’ve been able to connect (and reconnect) with audiences, as well as help others?
C.D. - It's helped me grow as a person in many ways, which is wonderful because before my accident I was thinking I had things figured out pretty well. There's so much for us to learn in this life! First thing I did to prepare was to write my autobiography/memoir "Strange Way to Live". The friend who encouraged me to be a speaker also said, "Well, you should write a book, too." I learned so much about myself and gained so much perspective from doing that; in the foreword I wrote that I believe everyone should write their book too. It may have seemed like a natural offshoot to become a speaker after my many years of performing music to an audience, but it was a very different feeling. As a singer/musician, you get to hide behind your guitar and your microphone; you even get to hide behind the music on a certain level because it's not actually YOU, it's just something you chose to do. BUT... when you're a speaker, saying your thoughts in your words with your voice, it's the real you for the audience to see, and decide if they like it or not!
I discovered that speaking is the most incredible performance "high" ever! To then make the emotional connection with the audience, where what I speak about has meaning for them and resonates in their hearts; well, that's just about the most rewarding thing I've ever done. I'm so glad to help people in this simple, direct way.
Carl Dixon - Surviving The Crash
K.M. - Will you have copies of Strange Way to Live with you when you come to Binghamton this week?
C.D. - Yes! Books and CD's of my music also will be available.
K.M. - Writers prerogative here - this one is just for me. I missed out on (and am still disappointed to this day) the Piece of Mind tour when it came to Syracuse back in 83’. There was a LOT of talent on that tour. Could you share any fun memories when you played with Iron Maiden and Fastway?
C.D. - Well, that was a pretty special tour. We were just about the same age as Iron Maiden so it was easy to relate to them even though they were the headliners; just great, easygoing blokes that you could have a beer and a chat with. Maybe a bit nuts, but you had to be to become a big successful rock band. I became buddies with Davey King too, the singer of Fastway. Skinny little guy with an enormous voice. I used to pick him up in a big bear hug when I'd see him each day. Bruce Dickinson from Iron Maiden was/is a very smart guy, huge personality and a bit of ego too, but that's just part of being a lead singer innit?
K.M. - We are very lucky to have someone of your caliber and experience performing in an intimate setting like McGirks. What kind of show can people expect this week?
C.D. - I'll do some songs - solo acoustic to begin the show and then I'll bring up my three NY musician friends who have backed me before in a few different situations. We'll play music from different stages of my career - Coney, The Guess Who, April Wine, and throw in a few rockin' cover tunes as well. I expect it will be a VERY good night.
Sounds Great! Thank you very much for your time Carl, we look forward to seeing you on Friday.
To find out more about his music career, visit: https://www.carldixon.com/
To find out more about his inspirational work, visit: https://www.carldixonspeaks.com/
Find him on Facebook: Carl Dixon Music
Details about the show:
Carl Dixon and Friends
McGirk's Irish Pub
1 Kattelville Rd
Binghamton, NY 13901
Tickets are $25. Show starts at 9pm.