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!
A compelling performer with between-song-banter that has taken on a much larger role than the typical “this next song is about…”, Arlene Bishop’s funny and dark monologues are the result of letting loose an obsessively busy and creative mind. The songs themselves are personal, poetic, and passionate expressions of the emotions she balances off-stage. Arlene’s concerts are populated by songwriters, artists and interesting characters and she typically chooses small venues to embrace the intimacy and shorten the distance between the stage and the audience. In 2017 Bishop released a groundbreaking live album titled Together Tonight. Recorded live in concert with a 30-person vocal ensemble and a band she jointly calls The Spirit of Adventure, the album documents a roller coaster of a set, with instantly memorable songs and funny between-song banter. Listening to the album is like sitting amoung the vorchestra ‘being there’ in the concert venue. It was during this concert recording that Arlene learned of a bootleg recording captured from the soundboard in 1992. Thank You Jimmy Scopes, The Cabana Room Bootleg 1992 is a blast from the past snapped and a shout-out to the person Arlene credits with beginning her performance career. Starting out at Toronto’s legendary Cabana Room Arlene’s weekly show featured emerging artists like Ron Sexsmith and the Barenaked Ladies and resulted in the EP Pinky in 1995 (recorded three years after the bootleg). After a series of short small venue concerts (Louden Wainwright III, Beach Boys, 54:40, Burton Cummings among the headliners), she and Blair Packham (The Jitters) produced a second CD, with the press-review inspired title Snarky Girlpop (from which 98 Points found its way to the film New Waterford Girl). Following more concerts with icons Brad Roberts (Crash Test Dummies), Colin James, Ani Difanco and Dar Williams, the album Cut a Man’s Heart Out was produced in 2004. In 2014 Arlene Bishop produced a compelling album called Twenty Four (Is Twelve Songs Twice) wherin recordings of twelve solo acoustic performances are remixed and reinterpreted by twelve producers. Arlene Bishop is the grateful recipient of a number of awards including garageband.com; Toronto Independent Music Awards, Independent Acoustic Music Awards, and a Galaxy Award.
ampbell released his first record, “Oxford Street” in April 2017. In the fall of 2019 he is releasing a new record made with Grammy award winning producer Howard Bilerman, and he will be touring Northern BC, Yukon and Northwest Territories with Home Routes/Chemin Chez-Nous. Campbell toured all of Canada this past summer including dates at Vancouver Island MusicFest, Trout Forest Folk Festival, Blue Skies Music Festival and the Halifax Urban Folk Festival. A song Campbell wrote while participating in the Singer-Songwriter Residency at The Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity won Folk Music Ontario’s Songs From the Heart Award in the Roots Category. “Campbell is one of the truest songwriters I’ve heard come out of Canada in a long time. His writing comes from the soul of an ancient spirit; he is a poet with a flair for haunting images. Campbell has done his homework when it comes to the craft of songwriting. His is a new, shining light” – Doug Cox, Vancouver Island Music Festival, Artistic Director
Melissa Bel has been captivating audiences and listeners her whole life with her powerful, soulful voice and compelling songwriting. She grew up in a musical household in Burlington, Ontario listening to soul, classic rock and blues music, and draws inspiration from the likes of The Beatles, Aretha Franklin, John Mayer and Christina Aguilera amongst others. Melissa wrote her first song at age 7, picked up the guitar at age 14, and has known she wanted to pursue a career in music since she can remember. Since 2010, the Toronto-bred, UK-based artist has released 4 records, headlined a solo tour of Germany, toured worldwide as a backup singer, performed in front of millions of viewers on national television, and opened for artists such as Matthew Good, Tegan and Sara, Joey Landreth and Maverick Sabre.
Notably, she co-wrote Avril Lavigne’s recent single, “Tell Me It’s Over”, and is quickly becoming a sought-after songwriter for other artists and projects in addition to her own. So far 2019 has seen Melissa songwriting in London, Toronto and LA, performing around the UK and Canada including a support slot for Kylie Minogue at Hampton Court Palace Festival, and releasing new music. Her latest single, the funky, nearly-racey pop/soul bop ‘Cotton Candy’, debuted on BBC Radio Devon and Cornwall and reached #54 on the iTunes UK Top 200 Singer/Songwriter chart.
Melissa’s 2016 EP ‘In The Light’, produced by Justin Gray (Amy Winehouse, Joss Stone, John Legend), follows the remarkable story of how the girl from Canada found the love of her life in Las Vegas and unexpectedly relocated across the Globe to rural England. The album was released in November 2016 and is filled with a killer combination of infectious pop beats, powerful soul vocals and heartwarming ballads. ‘In the Light’ reached #49 on the iTunes Canada Top 200 Pop chart and has received critical acclaim from various media outlets in Canada and the UK, including BBC Introducing, CP24 Toronto, GigSlutz, The Vinyl District and Vents Magazine. One of the album’s singles, Big Boys Don’t Cry, was recently added to the Adult Pop stream on CBC Music, and the title track, In the Light, is in rotation on UK coffee giant Caffe Nero’s in-store playlist, featuring in hundreds of stores worldwide. Since moving to the UK in 2016, Melissa has performed at London landmarks The Shard, The Gherkin and Tower Bridge as well as The Hospital Club, The Bedford and for Ticketmaster at The Natural History Museum. In 2018 she wowed audiences at Hampton Court Palace Festival, Cornbury Festival and Dart Music Festival. “Melissa Bel continues to impress with her uplifting, addictive pop music and we can’t wait to see what she does next.” – Fame Magazine
Surprise Guest: Be there to find out!
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…”