Dave Borins: affable audacity

I first heard of Dave Borins a while back, when apparently out of nowhere he announced to the world that he was celebrating his 100th gig with a big concert at Toronto’s Hugh’s Room, an acknowledged gem of folk-roots venues in Canada.

Audacious! was my first reaction. First of all, who celebrates a number that many musicians do in a year or less; secondly, who’s celebrating having only done 100 gigs in his late 20s; thirdly, what’s a guy I’ve barely heard of doing at Hugh’s Room?

But I cut Dave Borins some slack because even in press releases, his boyish enthusiasm came through. He seemed like an affable guy – and anyway, what’s wrong with a little audacity? I seem to recall being similarly undaunted at his age. I decided I’d keep my eye on Borins and see how long he managed to stick around.

He’s still around, alright. Borins, who runs with a crowd of promising younger musicians, has managed to parlay 100 gigs and his affable audacity into a solid run of real road engagements and some pretty prestigious gigs.

Case in point: the video above was shot at Mariposa Folk Festival. Borins earned his spot by doggedly attending last-chance auditions for three years running before getting the nod.

When he finally took to the stage for his big show, he was counter-programmed against a 50th anniversary VIP concert on mainstage hosted by Shelagh Rogers that included Ian Tyson, Sylvia Tyson, Murray McLauchlan, Jim Cuddy and Greg Keelor, and headliner Gordon Lightfoot.

Borins, banished to the beer garden, never blinked, never wavered, and never stopped smiling from the stage for the die-hards and drinkers cheering him on. Kudos to him for pulling off another affable, audacious, ambitious plan.

And now he’s upping the ante on his own ambition, recording two nights of live performances back at Hugh’s Room. The idea is to cram the room with fans and friends, charge a slightly hefty cover charge, and favour everyone with a copy of the CD that will be recorded at the event. It’s like a CD release, fundraiser and recording wrapped into one.

It’s the sort of vision independent performers have been pursuing some time, but Dave Borins’ timing may be just right, as both the tools and the public acceptance necessary for this type of approach have come a long away. Plus, he’s signed up George Massenburg, the Grammy winning producer/engineer who worked with Linda Ronstadt, Little Feat and James Taylor to record the shows and Chris Stringer whose credits include Wooden Sky, Timber Timbre and Obijou, signed on as the producer.

Dave Borins impresses impressive people.

Borins has talent, presence and personality in abundance: winning assets for any performer. But what artists should really be watching is his ability to make stuff happen for himself musically. This is a musician and songwriter who is propelling himself into a credible career on the basis of a formidable attitude.

Affable audacity. It’s a trait worth learning.

Dave Borins plays Hugh’s Room Wednesday, October 20 and Thursdsay, October 21.

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  1. avatar
    Thom 21 October, 2010 at 22:41

    I was a judge for the TIMAs a while back and Dave Borins was one of the acts performing.
    He stood out head and shoulders above the other acts so I’m not surprised that he is ‘still around’.
    I see a lot of acts and tend to be a little reserved in my praise but there is something about this guy that keeps me coming back to his music.
    I was at Dave’s 1st night of recording at Hugh’s Room
    He killed it!
    He doesn’t just write songs.
    He writes music.

  2. avatar
    Jim Ansell 24 October, 2010 at 12:03

    Three years ago I was honoured to be a judge at the Knox Acoustic Cafe (http://knoxacousticcafe.ca) youth showcase in Owen Sound. Dave Borins was among those performing. Returning after intermission I found that he had placed a copy of his CD “Songs of Sense and Colour” at each of the judge’s seats. Hmmm, quite audacious I thought… I was suitably impressed by his performance that night, placing him first on my scorecard. The other judges had other ideas however…Dave did not win a spot at Summerfolk’s Young and Hungry Stage.

    Fast forward to last night where I saw Dave play alongside Ann Vriend (accompanied by the terrific bassist James Forrest) at a house concert. He’s come a long way! His songs are catchy, well-crafted pieces of work, delivered with conviction and no small dose of passion. It would be hard not to enjoy yourself in his audience…

    If you roots music fans get a chance to see this ‘affable and audacious” singer/songwriter, please do so. He will be sticking around for a while!

  3. avatar
    Dave Borins 16 February, 2011 at 18:06

    I’d like to to update some of the information written in the space above,

    Over the past few months, i’ve been working on the raw data recorded at Hugh’s Room and shaping it into an album. This process was far more involved and nuanced then I had anticipated (nothing in this industry seems to stick to an original timeline!)

    The biggest change that has occurred is that George Massenburg is no longer attached to the project. He did however provide amazing guidance!

    I am pleased to report that next week I’ll be traveling to Vancouver BC to complete and mix the album with Steve Dawson. I have wanted to work with him for ages, I’m quite thrilled at the chance to do so.

    I believe that the folks at Roots Music Canada do amazing work, and do everything in their power to publish accurate information with journalistic integrity.

    keep up the good fight

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