Band wants crowd grooving the tunes

Toronto group has three Nanaimo shows in one day.

f there is one thing the Woodshed Orchestra doesn’t want to see during any performance, it’s people in their seats.

“We are a dance band We play dance music from all over the world,” said founder Dave Clark.  “We just don’t give up. We’re going to get you up on the dance floor one way or another.”

The band formed in Toronto in 2005 and starts the western leg of its Canadian tour Thursday (July 12) in Victoria.

Woodshed plays the Roxy Theatre on Gabriola Island Monday (July 16) at 8 p.m. and hits Nanaimo July 19 with a noon hour show for CHLY Radio at the China Steps, an 8 p.m. show at the Front Street Grill and 9:30 p.m. at the Queen’s.

The band features nine members and Clark said the whole ethos is to play with love in their hearts.

“We do enjoy ourselves,” he said. “It’s a bunch of old friends from different bands who have come together this way.”

Growing up in a musical family, Clark was exposed to numerous kinds of music from the Beatles, the Doors and Motown, to the Guess Who, Gordon Lightfoot, Joni Mitchell and Duke Ellington.

He has used those influences in his writing for the band.

“I just kept on writing. Whatever popped into my bean from afar I would scrawl it down and we played them,” he said.

Woodshed describes themselves as a “bowlful of New Orleans, a dose of Sly Stone, a sprinkle of vintage Rush and a cup of Stevie Wonder”.

“When it started out, I had this picture of it being a kind of Philadelphia soul band – and we’ve got that element,” he said. “The old term of musical woodshedding means learning something. We learn things right in front of the audience.”

Clark has written 168 songs for the band and on any given night – depending where the gig is – Woodshed can play for three to four hours straight.

“It’s pure joy and very free for everybody in the band to sing, play their instruments and be part of the music in anyway they see fit,” said Clark. “If they need to get up and shake it off, dance a bit, get a drink or talk to people, they can get up. There’s plenty of people in the band to cover it. It’s a celebration of friendship.”

And the experience has been more than Clark ever imagined.

“It’s a dream come true to be in a band of people so joyful and committed to having fun and making people feel good,” he said.