By RENE J. ROY
CODROY VALLEY – “I’m not a closet player, but a volunteer player in a little band. I’m by no means a professional musician,” says Dion Devoe.
His musical talents say otherwise. Mainly focusing on guitar, he also plays keyboard, accordion, “a few other instruments” and sings as well.
Devoe hails from the Codroy Valley, although he seems to prefer just saying he’s from the Southwest Coast. It’s almost as though he doesn’t want to shoehorn himself into any single category.
Indeed, with his hand in so many pots, that isn’t something that is easily done regardless. Devoe has been teaching one of the most popular courses at College of the North Atlantic (Port aux Basques Campus) for the past 13 years, runs a guest cottage rental business with his wife, Claudelle, is a hobby farmer and gardener who raises chickens, and is the co-chair of the Codroy Valley Folk Festival.
Since that’s apparently not enough to keep him busy, he’s also a member of the The Breeze Band. The band is about 10 years old and addition to Devoe consists of Gordon Cormier, “Hockey” Gale, and Walter Devoe.
Devoe’s love and passion for music is evident in the affection with which he discusses the region’s rich musical history and talents.
“Like most of us Newfoundlanders, I think music is a big part of our culture, a big part of our life,” he says, “Music was our entertainment. So I grew up – being 4 or 5 years old – and hearing my uncle, Walter, part of the band. He was a big influence. My Dad played the accordion, my grandfather sang and played the accordion. I’ve got music on my Mom’s side.”
He recalls his very first foray into playing an instrument.
“So yeah, I started playing the spoons when I was six. Walter gave me my first set of spoons. I played the accordion, cause Dad played the accordion. I played the keyboard as a young fella, 10 or 11 years old, and I got my first guitar when I was 14.”
Devoe prefers the guitar, and says he enjoys the traditional “picking tunes” and country music, such as Merle Haggard or George Jones.
Once he got fairly comfortable playing in front of people, Devoe began to play at weddings.
“That’s basically where I cut my teeth I guess.”
Devoe hasn’t been able to play in front of a live audience thanks to COVID-19. These days he is limited to mostly jamming in the basement, but did let slip that he and Walter are working on a CD.
“My uncle is working on a traditional accordion tune album, and we’ve been working on that for a while, over COVID basically.”
Devoe has no plans to host any Zoom concerts or online Facebook live streams to share his music, but he also hasn’t closed the door entirely on the idea.
“I’ve thought about it, maybe doing it myself, but only so many people like to sit down and listen to two hours of Smiley Bates and Conway,” says Devoe.