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‘Music is like breathing,’ says Sault artist Dunn

MD Dunn launches latest folk CD at Water Tower Pub gig
20181208-MD Dunn CD release-DT
MD Dunn, Sault singer/songwriter, officially launched his latest CD entitled The River Lately at The Water Tower Pub, Dec. 8, 2018. Darren Taylor/SooToday

Contemporary folk singer/songwriter MD (Mark) Dunn has released his latest CD, entitled The River Lately, officially marking the occasion with a performance at The Water Tower Pub Saturday.

A Sault native who has lived in town for most of his life, Dunn told SooToday “I’ve always loved music. My father sang in a country band, so I grew up with musicians.”

Inspired by that musical environment, Dunn began playing guitar at 13.

The River Lately, recorded locally between November 2017 and January 2018, is Dunn’s ninth CD since 1993.

The CD’s title track, Dunn said, is inspired in part by the St. Marys River.

“Starting about two years ago, I’d walk the same route along the St. Marys for about four miles almost every day.”

“The song deals with depression. It’s about talking to someone with suicidal issues and giving that person a reason to stick around, to give that person hope,” Dunn revealed.

But don’t get Dunn wrong, he emphasized.

He’s not overly intense, but rather, a man who cheerfully chatted with SooToday only minutes before his Saturday performance began, greeting members of the Water Tower Pub audience, soft spoken and clearly in love with music.

While Dunn said he writes some of his songs relatively quickly, others, such as The River Lately, “took about a year and a half to put together, and I still want to edit it.”

Dunn began writing another track on the CD, entitled Every Morning After, at the age of 13, completing it five years ago.

Providing another glimpse into his music, Dunn said “there’s a song on the new CD called The Story Begins, and it’s a love song, but not about any one person. It’s about people I’ve met over the years.”

Dunn also addresses some political themes in his songs.

“If you had to put me on a political spectrum I’d be kind of left-leaning, not that I really believe in those types of measurements, but most of those songs come about through witnessing, thankfully at a distance, an injustice that emotionally stirs me up.”

“Most of the time I play solo, but once in a while I play with a band,” said Dunn, who was backed up at Saturday’s performance by The Innocent Weapon Ensemble, which includes Warren Reville on bass, keyboardist Lynne Reville, Josh Norling on saxophone and mandolin and drummer Ken Coulter.

Most of Dunn’s performances are out of town.

“I take two or three weeks in the summer and I’ll go around to clubs and cafes in southern Ontario,” said Dunn, a full-time Sault College English instructor in the postsecondary school’s General Arts and Science program.

Locally, Dunn plays the Water Tower Pub and other local venues, having launched some of his other CDs at the pub and LopLops.

“There’s a freedom in playing an out of town place where you know you’re not likely to know anybody, but at the same time it’s comforting to know my wife, family and friends are here tonight.”

“I’ve been performing for 30 years and I want to keep going,” said Dunn, approaching his 50th birthday.

“For me, the songs just happen, I feel them coming on. It’s a feeling, and if I pursue that feeling, I’ll add lyrics and it becomes a song. I don’t think I’ve ever consciously said ‘I’m going to write a song about this or that.’”

“Music, to me, is almost like breathing. I can’t go any more than a few days without my guitar,” said Dunn, listing The Beatles, Cat Stevens, Neil Young, Joni Mitchell and Bruce Cockburn as his influences.

Dunn is also a poet.

“I’ve been writing poetry since I was old enough to scribble thoughts down on paper. My Grade 2 teacher read them, liked them and called them poems and then I realized ‘oh, these are actually something,” Dunn grinned.

He has had three collections of his poetry published, though those collections are now hard to find, some copies still available directly through Dunn.

To check out Dunn’s music and download his CDs, go to his website

Dunn added his CDs are also available for sale locally at Sunrise Records, The Rad Zone and Shabby Motley.

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Darren Taylor

About the Author: Darren Taylor

Darren Taylor is a news reporter and photographer in Sault Ste Marie. He regularly covers community events, political announcements and numerous board meetings. With a background in broadcast journalism, Darren has worked in the media since 1996.
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