On the Road

Street Musician Scott Dunbar Shares Stories and Music

It’s been a long ride for Scott Dunbar. After a few years in a band with high-school friends, the BC native hit the road on his own, hitchhiking across Canada and singing folk songs at local gigs. His journey led him all the way to Yukon, where he played at the Dawson City Music Festival and fell in love with performing.

After two full-length albums (2008’s An Awful Racket and 2009’s Get Angry About It), Dunbar presents his new creation: Two Years to Live (2011). For the past two and a half years, Dunbar has played in venues and the streets of Montreal.

“It’s about the music / Not the fifty dollars and aren’t you having fun?” sings the artist right outside the busy Mont-Royal metro, wearing what he calls his “Scott-Dunbar-Costume” (a beret and worker-clothes), equipped with an acoustic guitar and a vintage suitcase as a side-drum.

“When you do something that feels right, it reminds you that you’re free,” said Dunbar. For him, this freedom is expressed through a voice that seems to have traveled a million miles, talked to thousands of people, and shared enlightening moments.

“I’m not going to lie, I consider myself as one of the richest men,” he added with a smile. On his life-altering journey up north he was “forced into another universe.” As soon as he hopped into a new car, the singer recalls being spiritually enlightened.

“I believe in an unconscious channel which I share with singers that I admire. I remember starting a performance and all of a sudden feeling like Ray Charles or Jim Morrison were behind my shoulder, singing for me.”

As a band member, Dunbar recalls having to adapt to many different sounds. His songs range from folk to jazz to soul, sometimes with rock influences.

“Once they are well known, many artists feel the necessity to stick to a particular style,” he said. What makes Dunbar famous, however, is not how special his style his, but how special his delivery is.

“This isn’t called soul music for nothing,” he laughed. The artist is being continually praised for his deep, moving voice, strong enough to make busy Montrealers stop and listen.

And unlike many singers, Dunbar likes to stick to the original versions of his songs as much as possible.

“I write when I’m preoccupied, I write about things unsaid in a relationship, I write to catch a moment.” His songs are not modified until perfection, but they are strikingly sincere. “I get carried away by my own songs. It’s like I’m standing on that spot, ready to die”.

Aside from the project of recording a spoken word album with music, Dunbar will be sticking around the streets and bars of Montreal, allowing himself “random times of the day” to open himself up to opportunities, new encounters, and a record label.

“There are people out there living your wildest dreams,” said Dunbar. This thought is what keeps him going.

Scott Dunbar/May 18/Quai des Brumes (4481 St. Denis) /8 pm.

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