David Burrows talks about life, karaoke, and his new weekly YouTube show that spotlights local contentArts/Entertainment/Culture, Business, Feature, Spotlight — By Joe Burd on February 14, 2012 at 10:39 pm
David Burrows has always had a long-held interest in entertainment, performing in front of others, celebrating the city where he's lived all his life, and sharing his views on all kinds of topics.
It was only natural that he would one day host a successful weekly YouTube program called "The Show" that puts a big spotlight on the city he loves, giving him an opportunity to promote local talent, do features, and produce content in front of a video camera.
Here's an example, although LambtonShield.com has plans to distribute "The Show" on a regular basis elsewhere on the site.
When asked where he grew up, Burrows proudly says, "I was born in Sarnia. Been here all my life, really never left."
Notably, he was born on July 1, 1969, a date which also marks, as we all know, Canada Day. Reflecting on his birth date, he likes to say he came in "with a bang" and, some might say, that's a sentiment that followed him through his life. This is a man who likes to leave an impression on people and keep them coming back for more.
A lot of people around town might already know Burrows from his 23 years as being Sarnia's most recognized, in-demand karaoke host. He would resist that moniker, however, and while he concedes that, for a long time, karaoke was most of his experience, he would also contend that he is an entertainer with a desire to give so much more of himself.
"I've always been able to get up in front of a crowd, hold a microphone, and wing it so to speak," Burrows said about his aspirations; and, what some might call, his raw propensity to entertain people.
Since karaoke was such a big part of Burrows career, it was only a given to ask how he first got interested in karaoke and how it evolved into a real business. He answered by first reflecting on a question he remembers his mother asking him when he was about 6 years old. She asked him, like many mothers do ask their children, what he wanted to be when he grows up. He distinctly remembers telling her that he wanted to be in the music business and own his own business.
"The two kind of go hand in hand," Burrows said about the prospect of having his own karaoke business.
His first real exposure to the local entertainment scene came at 19 years old when he walked into what he fondly referred to as "the old downtown establishment" Mr. Mike's Variety Club. Mike's, as it turned out, needed a DJ and Burrows told them simply that he could do it. When they asked him if he had any previous experience, without hesitation he said yes. He had DJ'd for school dances during his high school years, he wasn't completely genuine in his response about his experience. He had told them that he use to work at the JVC dances, that were held weekly at what’s now the Harvey’s Plaza, but he didn't elaborate on his exact role. To get the job, he let them assume he meant as a DJ, when in reality he was the doorman.
That small misunderstanding was the start of something that would eventually turn into a two-decade spanning career. His job at Mike's would also give Burrows his first exposure to karaoke because the establishment below the bar featured it weekly.
After working at the bar for three years, he decided he wanted to try something different and started looking in different directions, but keeping his eye on the proverbial ball in that, whatever he was going to do, he wanted to keep entertaining people.
His then-wife, who was an avid bowler, came to him one day and told him he needed to come to the bowling alley, Marcin Bowl, and "check out this karaoke". She explained to him exactly what it was and his first thought was that it "sounded silly". Burrows, however, eventually decided to check it out and liked it enough to hang around.
Soon after he started hanging around, Marcin Bowl's karaoke host decided to leave and pursue other interests, opening up another opportunity to entertain for Burrows. He took the job and continued to work at Marcin's exclusively, sometimes six nights a week, for almost eight years and remembers having a lot of fun and meeting a lot of good people. He anecdotally said of that experience that he's always thought the bowling alley hired him because they confused him with Rick Burrows, a former Sarnia radio personality from those days.
Burrows, after doing karaoke for almost a decade at the same place, decided he needed a break, some time to reflect and contemplate his future. In his own words, "life moved on, like it always does."
When pressed about why he went on hiatus from karaoke hosting, he said that the karaoke business is much like the stock market because, like stocks, it goes up and down in popularity.
Eventually, after having been away for a while, he started getting phone calls from different establishments, different locations. Despite taking time off from the business, his name continued to resonate locally and his services suddenly became more in demand than ever, notably in tandem with a local industry that was once again seeing a revival.
Feeling rejuvenated and seeing new opportunity in a business he already knew like the back of his hand, he seized the moment, rented equipment, and embarked on a new journey. He was back and more motivated than ever to make karaoke synonymous with Sarnia's thriving live entertainment scene.
He recalled that the first venue he worked karaoke at after Marcin Bowl was Paddy Flaherty's, and from there he went on to do his thing at a number of local establishments like La Cantina, Fat Moe’s, Boomerangs for a little while, and several others at one time or another. He worked six days a week and saw his new business grow into a bona fide career.
But eventually, like everything in life, change happened again in Burrows life. He came to a point that he knew he had done all he could with what he had been doing, and he wanted more for himself, but more importantly he wanted to look for new opportunities to elevate his own game as an entertainer. He also came to recognize that Sarnia had grown into a significant, diverse place and had so much more to offer than it did two decades ago.
He, simply put, wanted to challenge himself more and expand his horizons.
About eight months ago, Burrows found himself, for the first time in years, with some time on his hands. He said that, once again, he was dealing with what he called "life changes" and, through those changes, he remembered his dreams and decided to try something new.
Burrows said he spent time learning about social media and realizing how significant media has become over the past ten years. It dawned on him that he could now do what he's always wanted to do – get on camera, talk about local interests and issues, put himself in front of and hold on to an audience, and broadcast it all on social media – YouTube to be exact.
Ladies and gentlemen, this is precisely when "The Show" was born.
Burrows' vision from the start has been to produce a weekly local talk show, of sorts, in which he gets on camera, talks about different events happening in town, profiles local talent, promotes charity shows, conducts interviews, engages the community, and discusses what's important to Sarnian's.
At first he wanted to do "The Show" live and direct from his home studio, but soon realized that doing it live would require more of a commitment and wouldn't necessarily result in a better production. In fact, he realized that by preparing and taping segments throughout the week, he could actually put out a much better, well-rounded show compared to a live broadcast.
He said when asked why he wanted to do a weekly show about Sarnia, "It's just such a great city and this is such a good opportunity to share my voice and promote others because there's so much talent in this town."
He added that he feels Sarnia's got so much to offer and, noting that aside from the big stuff like Bayfest, there's always something going on somewhere. "Events like Bayfest are wonderful, but there's enough things happening locally all the time," he said.
Burrows also said he thinks that local talent doesn't get enough attention and isn't promoted enough by the local establishment. He did note, however, that one local radio station, that he didn't name, has been promoting local bands and musicians and says their support is "awesome" for local talent that needs a platform.
He wants to do the same thing, but on video.
Burrows said that the "The Show" has been getting a lot of positive feedback and a lot of support from local venues and the radio stations. Each week, he says more people are tuning into his weekly YouTube broadcast as he continues to refine his content and find new ways to expand his vision to report about and entertain the local community.
"We're picking up new viewers every week," he said.
This past week, among other items of interest he has in store for his viewers, Burrows spent time at Stubborn Mule and Boomerangs Bar & Grill. At the Mule on Saturday, as a guest of the venue, he was on hand for an Eagles tribute band called Hotel California, an ensemble that is considered to be the foremost Eagles tribute band in the world. As you would expect, he did some interviews and took some footage that will be featured in this week's online episode.
On Sunday, Burrows was at Boomerangs for their annual Harmony For Youth charity fundraiser.
"Harmony For Youth does so much good for so many people and they're just a good organization to promote and help get out their message," he said.
Burrows said that the sky's the limit as far as the future is concerned. He said that while he would eventually like to make a living from doing his show, for now it's all about getting the word out there and building a solid base of viewers.
"I want to use my voice that people recognize to grow the show and promote others," he said.
He added that he might eventually like to do the show on a bigger scale, but concedes that he loves Sarnia and feels that there's so much for him to do here.
—Joe Burd, email@example.com
LambtonShield.com would like to announce at this time that, going forward starting on Feb. 15, we will premier then continue to showcase Burrows' unique weekly program "The Show" on our site's front page.