You can refer to him as Dr. Davidge now that he has received an Honorary Degree (Doctor of Laws) from Memorial University of Newfoundland and Labrador.
Bud Davidge has been a prominent part of the Newfoundland cultural scene since 1980 when he and his good buddy Sim Savory got together to play for a dance at Belleoram one Saturday night on a suggestion from someone who said that they sounded ‘pretty good’.
Neither Davidge nor Savory could have imagined what would happen after that night all those years ago. From that humble beginning they went on to record 12 records together and to capture the attention and hearts of almost all Newfoundlanders and many Canadians, and people all over the world for that matter, with their traditional music and historic songs.
So, what is it about Dr. Davidge’s songs that make them so popular with so many people?
There are, of course, many songs that relate especially to Newfoundland history and culture.
Anyone who grew up in Newfoundland in the 1960s especially can relate to ‘Outport People’ and ‘Black and White’, songs which talk about resettlement, the infamous movement of that era to have people move from smaller communities to so-called ‘growth centers’.
The controversy about the program goes on to this day and will probably never end. Some people say resettlement was unnecessary while others say the plan didn’t go far enough and more communities should have been abandoned.
‘The Loss of the Marion’ will forever keep the story of that now famous schooner and her crew alive as the song tells what may have happened to the ill-fated vessel back in 1915.
Another song about a sorry chapter in Newfoundland’s history was captured in a Davidge song, ‘The Truxton and Pollox’ which tells about the famous disaster that happened on the the Burin Peninsula when the two American navy vessels ran aground in Chambers Cove in February 1942. Over 200 American seamen died in the tragedy while others were rescued due the heroic efforts of people living in that area.
Every Newfoundlander who grew up in the 1950s, 60s and 70s especially can certainly related to Davidge’s famous ‘Mummer’s Song’ which immortalizes a Newfoundland tradition from a time that was a little more innocent than today’s world.
The Christmas song ‘O, Christmas Tree’ also brings back a lot of memories for many Newfoundlanders. Remember the time you had to go out and cut a real tree to decorate for the Christmas season? Remember all the fuss the wife or your mother would put you through as no matter what tree you brought home, there was bound to be something wrong with it?
And of course there are songs by Dr. Davidge that anyone can appreciate and relate to regardless of where they may live.
No matter where people may live on the planet we all have some things in common and one of them is sharing good times with friends. One of the common denominators in all these gatherings is music and the song ‘Music and Friends’ has gone all over the world.
And don’t think Davidge’s songs are just popular in Newfoundland and Labrador. At a wedding in Halifax in 2011 a DJ played Simani’s song ‘Music and Friends’.
Most of the people there were from Nova Scotia and a few were from Asia. Didn’t matter! The floor was packed as the song played out.
Someone was at a wedding in Gooseberry Cove, NL several years ago when the bride and groom passed out a CD they had made for their guests. The CD included songs by all the famous international artists of the day. However, the very last song was ‘Music and Friends’ by Simani.
When asked why he included a Simani song on such a recording the groom simply said, “Because it’s such a great song.”
So, people can relate to the songs. But it’s more that that!
We were covering the 25th anniversary of the South Coast Arts Festival a few years ago when a CBC crew was there to capture Simani on stage as part of ‘Land and Sea’ program they were putting together on Newfoundland musicians.
When asked why he wanted to have Simani in the program, Fred Greening simply said, “Because they’re the best”.
They say that the acid test for all works of art is time, and it’s very likely that Simani’s music and songs will be passing that test that for a long time down the road.