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Dave Stanaway and Susan Askwith in Fur Trade Era costume Dave Stanaway and Susan Askwith

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About Dave

  • Favorite Music Styles: Folk, Country, Rock
  • Musical Influences: Gordon Lightfoot, Buddy Holly, Louetta Stanaway (mother to a household of musicians)
  • Occupation: Teacher (retired), Musician, Guitar Instructor
  • Rewarding Musical Experiences: Making the John Johnston CD and playing in a band with my son, Jeff.
  • Hobbies: Songwriting

As a retired teacher, I'm forever in need of tasks, preferably enjoyable, to fill my time. What could be better than to play and sing with a talented fellow musician, Susan Askwith, at the newly opened John Johnston historic home in Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan? The John Johnston project gave Sue and me the chance to create original songs about the history of the area in which we both grew up.

Musical Influences

As a musician since my early teens, I have played a variety of musical styles. Folk music was my first passion, and this collaboration with Sue has allowed me to come full circle back to my folk roots. This time, however, the material is original and more rewarding.

Bringing History to Life through Song

In addition to giving twice-weekly summer concerts at the John Johnston House, Sue and I performed at the Historical Society of Michigan's 2005 Upper Peninsula History Conference, held at Lake Superior State University. We have also brought history to life for fourth grade students at various Eastern Upper Peninsula elementary schools, through a grant with the Chippewa County Historical Society.

Sue and I have enough new material to do a follow-up CD. We hope to have this second CD out by the summer of 2006.

About Susan

Musical Influences

For me, music is at its best when it makes me feel something - nostalgic, compassionate, hopeful, awed--or like dancing! It opens up channels for processing our own experiences. Instrumental music can do this alone, but it's all the more engaging to me as a song whose lyrics tell a story.

I seek those that are clever and rich with layers and images, thought-provoking and delightful. Good stories and good words are like that. I listen to my favorites over and over, and keep an ear out for new ones on Public Radio or other nooks and crannies. I like listening to voices - growly and scratchy like Chris Smither, Willie Nelson and Travis Tritt; sassy like Christine Lavin and Heidi Newfield in Trick Pony; thick and warm like Tracy Chapman, Jennifer Warnes, Eva Cassidy and Norah Jones; and high and haunting like Loreena McKennitt.

Family and Native American Heritage

My world view has been shaped by being part Ojibway (only a quarter, but what an influence!), living in Michigan's Upper Peninsula all my life, and years of teaching and learning about the natural world. I've had the deep satisfaction of making music for and with, I guess, thousands of people. That puts its mark on a person, too.

The most profound experience has been my 35+ years with my husband, John, who has been perfect for me, our two wonderful daughters and delightful granddaughters. We feel blessed in abundance.

Bringing History to Life through Song

Collaborating with Dave to write, perform, and record songs about home and its history has been an unexpected and special treat. What an enjoyable way to bring to life the fascinating stories we've found! Our project has expanded my world in lots of good ways, and I'm really excited to see it all continue to unfold.