On a positive note: Dunnville musician makes 'em laugh with catchy tunes, zany antics

·3 min read

Chad Charles Campbell is on a mission to make people smile.

The Dunnville songwriter is sending positivity over the airwaves through his debut single, “Cloud 10,” and an upcoming podcast featuring good news stories.

“I’ve always been a positive person, but the pandemic definitely gave me a push, because people needed it,” said Campbell, who repairs traffic lights in Burlington by day and has laid the groundwork for what he hopes will be a second career as an entertainer.

Campbell comes from a musical family and has always loved to sing, but he only started writing songs in earnest when the COVID-19 pandemic forced the world inside and left the 47-year-old father of three looking for some way to help.

Videos of his original songs, released every Friday on social media, garnered praise from friends and strangers alike.

“I put myself out there and it started touching way more people than I thought,” Campbell said.

The songs kept coming — about 80 and counting, with six chosen to record professionally for an upcoming album.

“I write songs in my head steady. It’s my passion through and through,” said Campbell, whose gravelly voice has drawn comparisons to singers Chris Stapleton and Bob Seger.

The pandemic seemed to unlock his musical creativity, as Campbell often found himself pulling over on the road to sing a melody into his phone or jot down some lyrics. In the evenings he would pick up his guitar and glance up to find that hours had passed in a blink.

“When I get into the music, nothing else matters. It’s my favourite thing in the world,” he said.

His first single, “Cloud 10,” is a country rock ode to online dating with a catchy chorus and zany music video featuring Campbell as Positive Pedro, the singer’s alter ego and main conduit for what he describes as “stupid shenanigans” designed to spread a little joy.

Pedro has a habit of popping up anywhere, often shirtless, frequently flexing his right arm, and always wearing a blue Mexican wrestling mask Campbell brought home as a vacation souvenir.

“I try to keep my shirt on for the most part,” he said with a hearty laugh. “If I make one person smile, that’s all I care about.”

In the video, the lyrical luchador rollerblades through a grocery store and hands out flowers to confused shoppers and employees, skates shirtless around a hockey rink holding a life-sized cardboard cutout of himself, and crashes a wedding reception to do the worm on the dance floor.

“You just need to keep on being a kid,” Campbell said of his forays as Pedro. “Everybody keeps saying to me, ‘You want to be taken seriously, you can’t be shirtless in a mask.’ That’s true, but that is me — I’m gonna try and cheer you up.”

Now signed to Radar Love Records and working with producer Michael Hanson — formerly a member of Canadian rock band Glass Tiger — Campbell is excited to lay down more tracks and get cracking on “The Right Arm Podcast: Friday Songs and Photobombs,” which he envisions as a destination for people in need of uplifting stories from inspirational guests.

“The podcast is going to be nothing but positive things,” he said. “I just get tired of the negative, I get tired of people talking about other people or politics. I want everybody to get along and be happy, and I think the positivity can rub off.”

Campbell’s new website — RightArmRightArmRightArm.com — takes its name from the singer’s catchphrase, a play on “right on” and a reflection of his belief that with a good attitude and some heavy lifting, beautiful things can happen.

“I’m trying to make the best of everything and make people smile along the way,” Campbell said.

J.P. Antonacci, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Hamilton Spectator

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