By Brendan Reid
David Storey is the lead songwriter of David Storey and the Side Road Scholars and the former producer/co-director of Canadian comedy classic “Corner Gas.” After a conversation with him, one thing comes to mind: it’s never too late to do the thing you love.
Storey has lived a suitably storied life. He grew up in Woodbridge, Ontario, but couldn’t be confined by the trappings of small-town existence. When he was a teenager, Storey hitchhiked across Canada to the west coast, then down almost to LA. The journey was just a precursor for what was to come, and he would live in many parts of Canada throughout his life. But first, there was business to attend to back east.
Storey went to Ryerson University in Toronto and studied Radio Television Arts. But at the time, his true love was music.
“I would do whatever gigs I could get,” Storey reminisces. “I would do open mics, I would open for people. They were mostly small folk clubs. I pushed it really hard until eventually I had a full band, and I would play venues like the Horseshoe Tavern and Lee’s Palace.”
Persistence was the name of the game in Storey’s early music career, but rarely do the stars align like you expect. Storey reached his thirties, and a record deal just wasn’t coming down the line. Now a father and a husband, he made the difficult decision to give up his musical dreams and pursue a career in film, television and music video production. After some time in the industry Storey met Brent Butt, and together they conceived “Corner Gas.”
The show saw rousing success. It ran from 2004 to 2009, aired over 100 episodes, averaged a million viewers per episode, and received a cavalcade of awards. Storey served as executive producer, and directed the Corner Gas movie that came out in 2014. The show continues to live on in animated format.
But all good things must come to an end. When “Corner Gas” finally wrapped, Storey was living on the west coast and unsure of what to do creatively. But the answer had been in front of him the whole time.
“I was in my mid-50s and I thought that was gonna be it for my career,” he says. “No one’s gonna hire me because I was so associated with [‘Corner Gas’]. So I picked up the guitar. I’d been playing, but not on a daily basis. So I started, and 10 songs came out in a two-week period.”
And just like that, the ball was rolling again. Though Storey had neglected music for decades, it had always been there, waiting for the right time to re-emerge in his life. He began as anyone would in a new scene.
“I went to an open mic at the Wired Monk in Kitsilano, and I hadn’t played live in front of anybody for 20 years. I got up and played at the open mic, and I was terrified! There were like 15 people there. But I got up and played, and I was hooked all over again.”
With a successful television career now behind him, Storey decided it was time to go all in on his old dreams of music. He formed a new band, and together they began to record and perform. Now, his second album Made in Canada has hit the airwaves, and Storey continues to play across the country. And though he’s living the musician’s dream at a later stage in life, this does nothing to quell Storey’s enthusiasm and passion.
“I’m an older dude,” Storey says with a smile in his voice. “I’m not some young hip guy, I’m an older hip guy – what do they call it, a silver fox? So I’m just happy to be out there playing and having fun and making it happen.”
You can hear David Storey play at Trees Organic Coffee on Granville St. on March 29.Trees Organic Coffee