History Slam Episode Thirteen: Musician Del Barber

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Last Saturday night in Ottawa, a young musician took the stage at the National Arts Centre and sang about a dream he had had. The dream was interesting because all his favourite historical figures – from Friedrich Nietzsche and Jean-Jacques Rousseau to Bob Dylan and Woody Guthrie – had shown up for a party at his house. The Party Song is a terrific example of how history has an active presence in our lives and how pop culture can be a great disseminator of historical references.

In this episode of the History Slam I talk with singer/songwriter Del Barber about the use of history in his songs as well as how history has influenced his career. Apart The Party Song, we chat about personal histories and how the past plays a role in our daily lives. Given my affinity for the Prairies from my days in Regina and Del’s Winnipeg roots, we also talk about the changing face of the West.

It has often been said that you shouldn’t meet the people of whom you are a fan, because inevitably you will be disappointed. Some of the greatest tales I’ve ever heard have been horror stories about meeting a celebrity who turned out to be less than affable. Fortunately, my experience with Del Barber was the exact opposite of that. Apart from the fact that his show was great, he’s a great guy – generous with his time, gracious in his attitude, and sincere with his answers. It was an interview that I really enjoyed, and hopefully you will too.

Sean Graham is a doctoral candidate at the University of Ottawa where he is currently working on a project that examines the early years of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. He has previously studied at Nipissing University, the University of the West Indies, and the University of Regina and like any red-blooded Canadian his ultimate dream is to be a curling champion while living on a diet of beer and poutine.

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