There’s a definite “what you see is what you get” quality to the music of South Surrey’s Phil Dickson.
The man who’s become known for buttons proclaiming ‘Phil Dickson plays music’ offers the antithesis of pretense and hyperbole in his friendly, highly accessible approach to singing and songwriting.
It’s apparent in the YouTube video for one of his newest songs, Nothin’ But The Love.
While shot and edited by longtime Dickson associate, Charles Schrodt, with a high degree of professionalism, it offers a classic backyard setting appropriate to the musician’s down-to-earth appeal – an atmosphere of simple, joyful music-making, surrounded by a warm support base of friends, family and neighbours.
It’s a fair bet that quality will be in evidence aplenty Friday night (Dec. 16, 7:30 p.m.) at Dickson’s release concert for his long-awaited first solo album, Play, at Vancouver’s Croatian Cultural Centre, 3250 Commercial Dr.
Just how accessible Dickson wants to be is clear from the fact it’s an all-ages, dry event, with “fans under 10” admitted free.
“I’ve played in a lot of pubs and bars and coffee shops, but I didn’t want that for my album release,” he said. “I wanted to have it in a concert venue rather than a bar.”
Dickson said he chose the Croatian Cultural Centre because he’s played there before, albeit in a battle of the bands.
“It’s the first time I rented it myself,” he said. “It’s a pretty big place. But I’m showing people this is ultimately what I’m going for – I don’t want my band to be a bar band, I want it to be a concert band.”
For all his home-grown appeal, Dickson has always been on the cutting edge of using technology to spread the word and get his music to the people who will listen and buy.
There’s an underlying purpose to every move he makes – including souvenirs that, instead of being the usual afterthought, are integral to his marketing and collectability as a brand.
And there’ll always be some free souvenirs, Dickson adds – it’s worked too well for him to ever give that up.
Through social media, Dickson has actually seen the colours he has chosen for his souvenir buttons take on a significance of their own. Following a Facebook request, he’s had people sending him pictures of buttons on their backpacks from around the globe; he’s even noted the phenomenon of complete strangers meeting and becoming friends because each was wearing a Phil Dickson button.
If this doesn’t seem to have a lot to do with music, it’s worth remembering the title of his album is Play.
As Dickson acknowledges, there’s a playful side to his music-making, which even comes across in some of the studio banter preserved between the tracks.
“I’m not going to fight a good thing,” he said.
For tickets, call 604-531-5969 or visit www.phildickson.com