I wasn’t sure what to expect when I headed to the Bears Den Saturday night to hear Dan Hill, known primarily as the guy who wrote and sang, “Sometimes When We Touch.” I knew there wouldn’t be throngs of teenagers crying and throwing themselves in front of the band’s bus like when the Beatles first came to town. I suspected a crowd of over middle-agers cringing from the days when his songs were either feared or relished as the first slow dance for many a Jr. High schooler. Whatever, I have learned that these hour and a half to two hour concerts at the Seneca Niagara Casino are a welcome relief to hanging at a bar for five hours and stuffing our faces with chicken wings and nachos.
A seemingly elderly man made it to the stage, walking slowly, not because he was old, just because it was obvious that’s how he rolled – Slow and steady, as we soon understood, like his music. As it turns out he is only 62, but I think most would agree that life and times in the entertainment industry must have differing effects on those involved. He had a talented piano backup and a young female vocalist on stage with him, and he began to tell stories. In a methodical and almost slurred vocal pattern, he told a little ditty about each song he was about to play. With a very dry sense of humor, his delivery grew on us. It soon became apparent that this guy was not just a one hit wonder singer, but a gifted song writer who has lived music his entire life.
He told tales of auditioning an 18 year-old Celene Dion, who toured with him for a bit. He went on to write songs for her in her role as a music icon. He told of his comforting his mother with song as she was hospitalized for mental illness, he told of his fear and reflections after being diagnosed with cancer. Each story had a twist, a moral, and usually ended with a smile.
What really got me was his ability to use words. He was a lyricist, a wordsmith and his command of the english language in putting together a simple story, made it obvious how he became a successful songwriter. He joked that the four water bottles on the table next to him were actually tequila, and they may very well have been. But that didn’t matter. Here was a guy for us to meet and understand in a way we never would have, and never would have asked to.
He finished with his signature song, then came back for one more. We weren’t hoarse from screaming, we weren’t tense cause the people in front of us wouldn’t sit down, we didn’t get contact high from second hand smoke, and no beer was spilled in the making of this concert. It was just a nice evening, and a pleasant surprise. I appreciated the music, I appreciated the stories, but mostly, once again, I appreciated the experience that I wouldn’t have looked for in Niagara Falls.