Guitar in hand, Dakota Dave Hull gets toes tapping from the first twang of the guitar strings, his unique blend of jazz, ragtime, folk and blues captivating music lovers of all ages. One moment, the notes paint musical portraits of the banks of a lazy southern river in the August heat, the next, of an Argentinian smoke-filled bar where danger lurks in its dark corners.
Called “one of the best guitarists in the world” by folk legend Van Ronk, Hull is the latest featured musician at the Deep Cove Folk Society’s club nights. Hull is a sheer treat to listen to, handling his guitars with an ease borne from decades of performing and engaging the crowd with finesse.
The evening is a little outside the regular club night fare, in that Hull himself doesn’t sing. Instead, he regales his audiences with tales both tall and short, and pours all his passion into the music.
“When you can draw in people to your art, to whatever it is that you do, that’s a wonderful thing,” he says. “That feels good for everybody.”
With a song list roughed out, Hull has an idea of the general tempo of the evening, with a mix of old favourites and newer material on the bill, but that’s always open to change.
“When you play music, or write music, you sort of try to get into a zone, and bring people into that zone with you,” he says.
Hull’s stories too, have evolved over time, influenced by his audiences and his own experiences. They sometimes even grow into new iterations on stage, but the themes remain the same. The origins of a song, his own inspirations, musings on old friends and those who’ve passed on.
“The traditions I work in, both acoustic guitar and the stories too, both work on an outline form, but there’s always room for a bit of improvisation,” says Hull. “They do kind of develop a life of their own.
“It’s good for me that these things change over time.”
That improvisation has kept his career growing. From his beginnings in the 1970s performing with Buddy Miles, Joe Cocker and Ted Nugent, to founding his own rock band The Dirty Angels, to performing with The Joe Perry Project, to releasing six solo albums, Hull has performed continuously through the years. And even after a music career that has spanned more than four decades, Hull is as enamoured as ever with the onstage experience.
“I think this is something you’ll hear from just about any artist, that there’s nothing else in the world that feels like it,” he says. “I do this because it feels great.”
The evening opens at 8 p.m. Friday, April 10 with an open mic after which Hull takes the stage. Deep Cove Folk club nights run the second Friday of the month at St. John’s United Church, 10990 West Saanich Road. Admission is $7, and coffee, tea and other refreshments are by donation.
For more information, visit deepcovefolk.ca or dakotadavehull.com.