Musician dedicates album to fallen family, friends

Musician dedicates album to fallen family, friends

David Christensen says he was driven to produce his new album by a desire to help people suffering in our community. – Ben Karlstrom Photo

For Sechelt artist David Christensen, music was all he could offer following the untimely death of yet another friend.

Christensen’s workmate Keith Comeau succumbed a few years ago to early-onset Alzheimer’s disease, and that sent Christensen on a road that has taken nearly four years to travel.

“He was 56, healthy as a horse, with no mind,” Christensen recalled. “He went down hard. Into hospital in January, he was dead by July. I went to his memorial in August, 2015 and walked out of there and just had one of those moments wondering, ‘what can I possibly do to help with this.’ And I realized I’d written all that music. I went right into the studio and I’ve been working on this ever since.”

The sustained effort has blossomed into Sliding Thru, an album of 10 original songs in a style that singer and guitarist Christensen describes as “21st-century blues.” And to follow through on his pledge of transforming his grief into action, all profits from the album and future live performances of the songs will be donated to the Sechelt Hospital Foundation.

“We hope to get our costs of producing the record back,” said Christensen. “But we’re only recouping it as a percentage of everything sold, as well as earning for the hospital foundation at the same time.”

While the album has been driven by one man, it could hardly be called a solo project. Christensen enlisted the help of engineer/producer Roy Code of SSR Studios and more than a dozen musicians, including locals Joe Stanton, Simon Paradis, and Ken McBride, along with Sarah Loverock, and Las Vegas’s Shaun Williamson, formerly of Atlanta Rhythm Section. Christensen also recruited Sunshine Coast painters like Greta Guzek, Motoko, Marlene Vermeulen, Ed Hill and David’s wife Rose Christensen to contribute art for the album’s lyric sheets.

“I did use as much local talent as I could,” Christensen said.

The 59-year-old Edmonton-born musician is open about his many years of over-the-top alcohol and drug use but has been clean for more than 25 years. “Rose, this beautiful woman, has helped me stay sober and we’ve made a life for ourselves,” he said.

The couple has watched family members and friends die due to mental health and addiction problems, and Sliding Thru is dedicated to them all.

Sechelt Hospital Foundation executive director Jane Macdonald said Christensen has stayed in touch for the last couple of years, keeping her up to date on the album’s progress.

“He’s quite passionate about mental health and Alzheimer’s,” Macdonald said. “We’re happy to support David and any other donors to bring causes like mental health and substance-use treatment to the forefront of our community’s conscience.”

You can learn more about Christensen’s music and fundraising project online at davidchristensen.ca