A Conversation With Dave Dale of Elephant Rescue

In my continued conversation with Dave Dale, we turn back often to the idea that music is an important piece of a local culture and community. The Niles resident, known for his work on his own and with various acts, including Elephant Rescue, has played music for most of his life. As we’ve discussed his perspective on the recent vibrancy in the local music scene, we turn often to the audience.

“You have to support the things that you love,” Dale said, indicating that there is some responsibility on the audience to help a music scene thrive. “What do you want? Do you want cover bands? Do you want your own thing? What are we going to pass on to our kids? If people want to have a [local] music scene that’s vibrant, it’s going to cost a little.”

The cost he describes is that of audiences being willing show up and to pay a cover when venues bring in original live music acts. It can be difficult for artists to discuss the economics of their work, but it becomes necessary for an act to be successful and remain viable. He describes the full-time, unseen work of musicians, including the creation of the art itself, seeking venues, and loading and unloading of gear before and after the show. He also describes the cost for venues who work to support the acts and the importance of the audience in that system.

“Venues don’t last if you don’t support them. That’s when you know a music scene has arrived,” he said, in reference to venues sustaining and music fans willingness to pay for the experience of original live acts.

Another of those costs is that of the audience to recognize the culture they have right at home. Dale presented the option of being proud of what we have in our own towns versus that of looking down on the artistic potential of your home, regarding it as a lesser place in comparison to large cities. Often, a resignation exists among people in smaller areas who don’t see the value and history of their own culture.

“We have our own thing. We have a rich musical root structure,” he said, touching on the history we have in local music. We went through a list of local musical icons, including Billy Nicks, and Jr. Walker and The All Stars, and the unique venues such as the former speak-easy, Martha’s Midway. The list continued, revealing just how many entertainment options we have locally. He emphasized that we have a culture right here at home and that it’s important to realize and recognize it. “No one is going to treat you like you do until you start thinking of yourself like that.”

He theorized that the more audiences support the scene right here in Niles, South Bend, and the surrounding area, the more it will build and become a destination of it’s own. Instead of making long, expensive drives to larger cities, a strong scene could bring those acts here.

“Once you have that, people will come here and play.”

Dale’s outlook is optimistic. He continued on about the joys and privilege of being able to work as a musician and to find an audience interested in his work.

“[Music] is not the solution to everything,” he said.

He described it, however, as something that is still important to local identity. He thinks of music as a way to make people to feel at home, giving them something to look forward to after a day at work. To Dale, it can unite people, creating a community.

“Turn off the TV. There’s something going on. Get out. Be with people. Get to know your neighbors.”

You can get to know Dave Dale and his music with Elephant Rescue by visiting facebook.com/ElephantRescue.

These piece created in part for Justin’s weekly column in Off The Water.

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