Some families line up for the shower; the Dodsons – Rich, Mary-Lynn, Holly and Nick – queue up for access to the state-of-the-art recording studio, which dominates the basement of their home in Toronto.
It’s a veritable musicworks, including a wide array of guitars, keyboards and other instruments, and an adjoining marketing “war room” with multiple computers wired to the now-essential social media sites and internet music services connecting artists to fans. The wall of gold records belongs to patriarch Rich Dodson – guitarist and co-founder of Canadian rock trio The Stampeders – who was inducted into the Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2006 as co-writer of the group’s biggest hit, “Sweet City Woman.” The Stampeders also won a SOCAN Lifetime Achievement Award in 2011, and two SOCAN Classic Song Awards in 1993.
“I built a 24-track studio [Marigold Studios] so that I was self-contained and independent.” – Rich Dodson
Rich amicably split from the group in 1978, after 13 years of living with a rigidly structured timetable for touring and recording. “I wanted the freedom, so when we bought the house, I built a 24-track studio [Marigold Studios] so that I was self-contained and independent,” explains Rich. He subsequently set up his own nationally-distributed indie label, Marigold Productions, and became an early adopter of the latest digital recording tools, and online tools for marketing and promotion. His wife Mary-Lynn became an important part of the operation, leveraging the experience she’d gained at Quality Records as one of the first radio airplay trackers in Canada.
In the ‘80s, the studio began to create a buzz, drawing artists as varied as Buffy Sainte-Marie, the late Handsome Ned, and Alanis Morissette, among others. Daughter Holly and son Nick were exposed to this indie, do-it-yourself mindset as they both began to take a greater interest in music. Today, Holly is a singer, musician, songwriter, producer, and co-founding member and frontperson for electronic pop trio Parallels, which features Nick on drums. Nick is a multi-instrumentalist, producer and a member of his own group, Eyes of Giants. Parallels has received much critical acclaim, and its song “Dry Blood” was used on the soundtrack of the Academy Award-winning film Curfew.
“For the band’s sophomore album, XII, Holly sang, played all the instruments and mixed it,” Rich says proudly. “I came in and tweaked a few things, but she did the whole album herself, and I was just blown away. Nick plays great piano and drums, and he produces projects as well.”
Rich is enthusiastic about creating and marketing music in a digital world. For example, The Stampeders re-formed in 1992, and would later have to create a website.
“On the other hand, I’ve had to arm-twist Nick and Holly to start thinking about traditional radio,” says Rich. “They don’t listen to radio, but it’s still a place where people discover music.”