Nanaimo, British Columbia
For nearly thirty years, West Coast recording artist Dave Baker has been writing and singing songs about his homeland, and many of the characters who have played a role in it's history. During his career in music, Dave has written and recorded commerical tunes that have appeared on the national Country and Adult Contemporary charts, but his first love has always been roots music.
His intial success Kettle Valley Line, written in 1969 and first released in 1973, recounts a childhood experience that occured in August 1952, at Chute Lake, located in the mountains near Penticton, located on British Columbia's Okanagan Lake. Dave's encounter with a double headed steam passenger train as it stopped to take on water, late one summer evening, turned a wide eyed seven year old into a lifetime rail buff.
His interest in music began in earnest at the age of 13, when he formed a rock and roll band and over the next four years played the local high school dance circuit.
Dave enrolled in the University of British Columbia, in 1963, seeking a degree in mechanical engineering. He turned his creative attention from rock and roll to folk music.
Upon graduation in 1969, Dave moved to Montreal to begin his career as a paper machine design engineer and also to continue his folk singing activities. His numerous performances at the Montreal Folk Workshop helped him develop the skills needed to make his mark in music. It was during this period that Dave began songwriting.
In 1971, Dave to Vancouver Island to take a job in a pulp and paper mill.
In 1972 he released his first single, "West Coast Logger's Saga" on his own Tsunami label. In the following year, Dave signed with Stamp Recods of Vancouver and recorded his first album, Kettle Valley Line, which featured his first nationally distrubuted single release Now and Then. The follow-up single "Walk That Endless Highway" appeared on over 100 Country-oriented playlists across Canada in 1974.
Dave's second and most successful album, "Endless Highway" was released in August of 1976. Over the next three years, the album received exposure across Canada, the US, Europe, and Australia. The single Emily Carr: World of Small made a fine showing on Canadian Adult Contemporary playlists.
In 1980, Dave became involved with the Kettle Valley Rail Heritage Society, an Okanagan group who were trying to preserve a section of the Kettle Valley Railway between Penticton and Kelowna in British Columbia, Canada. The group was to use Dave's Kettle Valley Line song as their marching hymn. Dave released his third album, Railway Memories to assist the cause. Though the rails were eventually lost, Dave's song has lived on and become synonymous with the railway. In 1984, Dave retired from the music business and turned his full attention to his engineering career and family.
In 1993, spurned on by the crisis in British Columbia's forest industry, Dave gave his support to the logging industry by returning to the recording studio, and producing a new album This Land is What I Am and performing at pro-logging functions such as the 1993 Clayoquot Rally at Ucluelet, British Columbia, Canada.
Songs and Sounds of Canadian Steam is, in music industry terminology, a concept album that features some of the best known and best loved original Canadian railway songs from the pens of several great Canadian songwriters. This album has been created for the railway buff (enthusiasts), or whatever you call a person who is emotionally moved by the haunting wail of a steam locomotive whistle. The album combines Dave Baker's fine writing and singing talents with the superb craftsmanship of the supporting musicians, vocalists, and recording technicians from the West Coast music community of British Columbia, Canada.
Dave's accomplishments in music are really quite amazing, to say the least - particularly when you consider that he is a stroke survivor. He uses his musical activities, including performing live with local bands like Ed Molyski and the Midnite Eagles, and Dewberry Country, to help in his recovery from his health problems.
In the summer of 2000, Dave represented BC at the Burns Lake Millenium 2000 Bluegrass Festival in Burns Lake, British Columbia, along with many other high quality acts from all over western Canada.
Dave's work was performed by the world famous choir "Choir Leoni" in June 2003 and is included on their Album "Canadian Safari 2". Dave has now released his greatest accomplishment, a new CD called "A Portrait Of The Westcoast In Song". This CD includes many of Dave's songs depicting life on the West Coast of BC, and also has songs by Ian Tyson and Alan Moberg.
Dave has since stopped performing and is now concentrating on publishing his songs through Cyprus Publishing.