Story Tools: PRINT | Text Size: S M L XL | REPORT TYPO | SEND YOUR FEEDBACK

Inductee: Chris Dedrick

Old softie: Composer and musician Chris Dedrick. Courtesy Chris Dedrick.
Old softie: Composer and musician Chris Dedrick. Courtesy Chris Dedrick.

Reason for Induction:
Nearly four decades of making pristine pop and superior schmaltz.

Citation:
The music business celebrates adolescent shock tactics and base overindulgence, so it’s no wonder that nice never gets respect. But what about all the great music that doesn’t inspire boycotts by moral guardians? Surely there’s something to be said for using a softer touch. Songwriter and arranger Chris Dedrick proves that nice music need not be namby-pamby; it might even be weirdly cool.

Dedrick’s sunny vibes began in Delevan, N.Y., a town not far from Buffalo. Chris and his siblings grew up playing hymns and folk songs in a very musical household. While earning their master’s degrees at the Manhattan School of Music, Chris, Bruce and Sandy Dedrick formed the Free Design (sister Ellen joined later). The band’s first album, Kites Are Fun, was recorded in 1967 — Chris, then only 18, handled most of the writing and arranging. Songs like the title track shone with all the daft optimism of the Age of Aquarius. Heard from today’s vantage, the results are too pretty and precise to count as kitsch; the easy-listening sensibility is always trumped by Dedrick’s musical sophistication.

Despite some regional success and guest spots on The Mike Douglas Show, the band failed to overcome such commercial liabilities as poor distribution and some of the era’s dorkiest cover art. Disillusioned by the New York scene, Chris Dedrick settled in Canada in the early ’70s. Given his penchant for the softer side, he was well matched with clients and collaborators such as Anne Murray, the Canadian Brass and the Star-Scape Singers. Dedrick also succeeded as a composer for film and TV, winning a Gemini award for his work on Road to Avonlea and a Genie for the wondrously loopy score to The Saddest Music in the World. When Don McKellar needed a soundtrack of sunny retro-pop for his recent film Childstar, the director — an avowed Free Design fan — knew there was only one man for the job.

Counterculture lite: The Free Design. Courtesy Light in the Attic Records and Productions.
Counterculture lite: The Free Design. Courtesy Light in the Attic Records and Productions.

Meanwhile, the cult of Dedrick’s old band grew. After decades of neglect, the Free Design was being namedropped by Beck and Cornelius; in 2001, Stereolab released a single bearing the band’s moniker. All seven Free Design albums — including Sing for Very Important People, a daffy children’s album that confirms Dedrick’s lack of counterculture cred — have since been reissued, along with two EPs of remixes by admirers such as Stereolab, Belle & Sebastian and Beatles re-arranger DJ Danger Mouse.

Capitalizing on the interest, Dedrick reunited with siblings Sandy and Bruce in late 2000 to make a new Free Design album at his place in the countryside north of Toronto. Released nearly 30 years after the Free Design’s last album, Cosmic Peekaboo sounds nice — very nice. Songs have titles like Springtime and Perfect Love; there are flute solos. If there are elevators in the hereafter, this is what they’ll play. There’s nothing here that would run afoul of a church group. Unabashed in its sweetness, Dedrick’s music is a call for the softies of the world to unite.

Jason Anderson is a Toronto writer.

Story Tools: PRINT | Text Size: S M L XL | REPORT TYPO | SEND YOUR FEEDBACK

World »

Bangladesh police kill Canadian suspect in restaurant attack video
Bangladeshi authorities say a Canadian man suspected of organizing a deadly attack on a popular restaurant in Dhaka has been killed in a police raid near the capital.
Italy holds state funeral for earthquake victims as death toll rises to 290
A day of national mourning began today for victims of the 6.2 magnitude earthquake that struck central Italy on Wednesday, killing 290 people.
CBC in Israel 'Scrambling every day': Stray cats struggle to survive in Jerusalem
In the holy city of Jerusalem, where neither religious tradition nor veterinarian school embraces spaying and neutering, authorities are just beginning to get a handle on its army of stray cats, Derek Stoffel writes.
more »

Canada »

Bangladesh police kill Canadian suspect in restaurant attack video
Bangladeshi authorities say a Canadian man suspected of organizing a deadly attack on a popular restaurant in Dhaka has been killed in a police raid near the capital.
Analysis Saint John politician Elsie Wayne was polarizing but always colourful
Elsie Wayne became one of the country's best-known political figures by being colourful and outspoken, and sometimes embarrassing, remembers fellow Saint Johner Harry Forestell.
Gay activist files federal human rights complaint over blood-donation wait period video
A young Toronto-area gay-rights activist has filed a federal human rights complaint challenging Canada’s policy requiring gay men to observe a waiting period between having sex and donating blood — just two months after Health Canada reduced the wait from five years to one.
more »

Politics »

Justin Trudeau, Kathleen Wynne among those attending Mauril Bélanger's funeral video
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne and former governor general Michaëlle Jean are among the dignitaries who will attend the funeral for Mauril Bélanger, the long-serving Ottawa MP who died from ALS (Lou Gehrig's Disease).
Analysis How Justin Trudeau plans to deliver on 'deliverology'
Shortly before the House of Commons adjourned for the summer, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau decided which of the government's priorities would receive his special attention — four commitments on which he hopes to deliver results.
Canada's mission in Africa will be focused on 'peacemaking,' UN ambassador says
Marc-André Blanchard says the new mission in Africa will be different than those of the past, with a big shift to focus on "peacemaking" and the right of Canadian troops to protect civilians caught in the crosshairs of conflict.
more »

Health »

Sorry - we can't find that page
 
CBC.ca

Sorry, we can't find the page you requested.

  1. Please check the URL in the address bar, or ...
  2. Use the navigation links at left to explore our site, or ...
  3. Enter a term in the Quick Search box at top, or ...
  4. Visit our site map page

In a few moments, you will be taken to our site map page, which will help you find what you looking for.

more »

Arts & Entertainment»

Esports founder, team owner spar over mid-season rule changes ahead of Toronto finals
Days before one of the biggest esports competitions takes place in Toronto's Air Canada Centre, a war of words between an owner and team manager brought to light lingering questions about how its ever-evolving rules put unique pressure on players forced to adapt or perish.
Video Britney Spears hitches a ride for James Corden's Carpool Karaoke
​Oops! James Corden did it again, sharing his Carpool Karaoke commute with Britney Spears on Thursday's edition of The Late Late Show.
Lawyer for Making a Murderer accused wants blood, DNA evidence tested
The attorney for a Wisconsin inmate featured in the hit Netflix documentary series Making a Murderer filed a motion Friday seeking permission to perform extensive scientific tests on evidence she believes will show he's innocent.
more »

Technology & Science »

Esports founder, team owner spar over mid-season rule changes ahead of Toronto finals
Days before one of the biggest esports competitions takes place in Toronto's Air Canada Centre, a war of words between an owner and team manager brought to light lingering questions about how its ever-evolving rules put unique pressure on players forced to adapt or perish.
Dig reveals surprise about 'super-henge' near Stonehenge
A dig where researchers last year said they had detected a "major new prehistoric stone monument" buried near Stonehenge has revealed something quite different than expected.
Video Brazilian plant's 'sneeze' caught on video video
A plant in the Brazilian rainforest and one discovered fossilized in amber in Mexico and the Dominican Republic are similar because it appears the two release pollen in an explosive way, like a sneeze, researchers say.
more »

Money »

Canada Post's relationship with its workers is blighted by 'underlying toxicity'
Whenever Canada Post management and union representatives reach an agreement, whether through negotiation or arbitration, the resolution may not be enough to repair their fraught relations.
Analysis Janet Yellen, Jackson Hole and the anti-Davos
A fishing hole in the middle of Wyoming might not be the first place that leaps to mind when one thinks of venues for major world economic conferences, but the bucolic scene of Jackson Hole is just that. Once a year, the global elite descend on the area to listen to what the U.S. central banker has to say.
McDonald's Happy Meal mistake, and Rio's poor Olympic ROI: BUSINESS WEEK WRAP
From more details on how the Fort McMurray fire keeps burning red ink, to some valid questions about the costs of Canada's gold, silver and bronze medals, it was a colourful week in business news. The CBC's Jacqueline Hansen gets you caught up on the week that was in her video recap.
more »

Consumer Life »

Sorry - we can't find that page
 
CBC.ca

Sorry, we can't find the page you requested.

  1. Please check the URL in the address bar, or ...
  2. Use the navigation links at left to explore our site, or ...
  3. Enter a term in the Quick Search box at top, or ...
  4. Visit our site map page

In a few moments, you will be taken to our site map page, which will help you find what you looking for.

more »

Sports »

[an error occurred while processing this directive]
Recap Blue Jays light up Twins to reclaim 1st in AL East video
Justin Smoak broke out of a slump with five runs-batted in, Russell Martin also drove in five and Josh Donaldson hit his 30th homer of the season as the Toronto Blue Jays' offence ignited for a 15-8 win over the Minnesota Twins on Friday.
Coming Up Diamond League track and field from Paris video
Watch coverage of the IAAF Diamond League track and field meet in Paris on Saturday, featuring Canadian pole vaulter Shawn Barber, looking to rebound from subpar performances at the Rio Olympics and meet in Switzerland.
Why some Paralympic athletes are self-harming to get an edge
It's official: Russian athletes have been banned from the 2016 Paralympic Games over allegations of steroid use. But some Paralympians are experimenting with another kind of performance enhancement. It's called "boosting," and it's dangerous. Quadriplegic rock climber Brad Zdanivsky tells Brent about the dangerous tactic and why he still boosts in spite of the risks.
more »

Diversions »

[an error occurred while processing this directive]
more »