Four Chords and the Truth, the Dakota Confessions are series of songwriter showcases held quarterly in Toronto at the Dakota Tavern, featuring a blend of top notch songwriters and songs in an intimate environment presented by Jack Daniel’s.
Each show is hosted by award-winning songwriter Andrea England (or, occasionally, a special guest host) and features several nationally and/or internationally acclaimed songwriters (and maybe a surprise guest or two). The songs are performed “in the round,” a style made famous by Nashville’s Bluebird Café, in which all four songwriters share the stage at once, each introducing and performing one song acoustically per round for a series of 3 rounds. The show is presented by Jack Daniel’s and promotes the good work of the Unison Benevolent Fund.
Location: The Dakota Tavern
Tickets are available here!
Tyler Shaw is a multi-platinum JUNO nominated recording artist, songwriter and producer. His breakout 2012 single ‘Kiss Goodnight’ was a chart topping hit that secured him a record deal with Sony Music Canada and was followed by a string of successful radio singles including ‘House of Cards’, ‘Wicked’ and the most recent hit ‘With You’ from the album INTUITION. For his sophomore album, Tyler wrote and co-produced his his entire album with his creative partner, Alex ‘Pilz’ Vujic which earned him a JUNO nominated for Pop Album of the Year. In his career, Tyler has receive many awards and accolades for his songwriting and artistry including an MMVA, JUNO nominations and SOCAN Music Awards. This is just the beginning for Canada’s next international breakout artist.
Hailing from just outside Toronto, Ariana Gillis began taking singing lessons at the age of six, but she was hardly thrilled. So, her father encouraged her to write her own material and learn to play the guitar. An award-winning songwriter himself, he gave her invaluable insight into the process. Gillis made an immediate impact on the Niagara music scene, and the Canadian Folk music scene, winning Songwriter of the Year at the 2009 Niagara Music Awards, followed by Female Vocalist and Album of the Year in 2010, as well as 2009 Canadian Folk Music Award, Young Performer of the Year. She networked at music conferences, which led to a quick, two-song performance for Dave Marsh in a stairwell in Memphis, following the release of her second album, Forget Me Not. Marsh then played Gillis on his Sirius XM radio show, which caught the attention of Elton John’s songwriting partner which in turn, led to Buddy Miller. Fast forward a year later — Buddy witnessed Ariana perform at the City Winery in Nashville experiencing first hand the conviction and power of her song writing, singing, astonishing technical perfection and stage presence. This led to further conversations and ultimately brought them together to create the album, “The Maze”. Recorded live-off-the-floor in Nashville at Buddy’s studio – this album features lyrics and performances that feel both natural and strangely unique all at once. Of her, Bernie Taupin has said “Ariana’s soulful talent has taken up elite residency in what constitutes the very best that songwriting has to offer. On the cusp of 20 years old she was composing material that was outrageously original, melodic and passionate. Now under the wing of multi-talented Americana everyman Buddy Miller the stars are aligned and Ariana Gillis will prove through these recordings that she is no flash in the pan flavor of the month but a force to be reckoned with now and for a very long time.”
Canadian-born, but Nashville-based, Brian Donkers is a songwriter’s songwriter. Straddling the lines between pop, country, and alt-rock, he’s usually the writer in the room adding pop melodies to a folk song or country lyrics to a dance track. Brian has had cuts with artists like Alee (“When I Do” – Top 50 Billboard), Wilkes (from The Voice), Kristy Lee Akers (Australian recording artist), and Twin Kennedy (“Secondhand Gold” – John Lennon Songwriting Competition Grand Prize Winner) as well as numerous cuts and radio singles with US, Canadian, European, and Australian artists. Currently residing in Nashville, Brian spends most of his time holed up in writing rooms and recording studios, but occasionally, he steps out into the world to play writers rounds at famous venues like the Bluebird Café and the Listening Room.
There’s something to be said for experience, for taking the time to grow into your own skin. All sturdy things need time to root ﬁrmly into the ground to ﬁnd their strength. Lynn Miles is one of Canada’s most accomplished singer/songwriters. With twelve albums to her credit, the winner of multiple Canadian Folk Music awards (2011 English Songwriter of the Year), and a 2003 Juno award for Roots and Traditional Solo Album of the Year, she has certainly found her strength over time. Through a career that has seen her move from Ottawa to Los Angeles and back again, with stops in Nashville and Austin TX., and a healthy touring schedule that regularly takes her through the US, Europe and across Canada, she has always created and performed music with unbridled feeling and vulnerability. Lynn song “Three Chords and the Truth” was recently chosen as the closing song on the popular BBC TV series “Case Histories”. Lynn’s new release “Downpour” has been receiving glowing reviews.
Andrea England (Host)
Nova Scotia-born Toronto-based Andrea England has a unique ability to work successfully in two different music worlds, recording and performing as a solo roots/country artist while placing songs with pop stars and emerging country artists. Having been awarded by the John Lennon International, NSAI, USA, and International Songwriting Competitions, England’s songs have appeared on numerous TV series, in feature films, and have been recorded by numerous artists, including former Pussycat Doll, Nicole Scherzinger (whose recording of co-write “Casualty” on Killer Love earned Andrea her first UK Gold record), 2015 CCMA nominee Twin Kennedy (cowrites “Get Back Up” and “I Never Will” book-end their new album, It’s A Love Thing), risings star Meghan Patrick (“Nothing but a Song” on Grace & Grit), Tara Macri, and Kolton Stewart, among others. Andrea’s own most recent release, Hope & Other Sins – which was produced by Colin Linden and features guest musicians Carolyn Dawn Johnson, Damhnait Doyle, Liz Rodrigues and Gordie Sampson, among others – garnered rave reviews and diverse radio play, reaching #1 on Galaxy’s FolkRoots chart & spending 14 weeks on CashBox Magazine’s Top 50 Folk Chart. Of it, David Kidney (Critics at Large) wrote: “The songs are autobiographical, personal, honest and universal. The performances are potent as you might expect; England’s vocals are delicate yet strong…”