Carl Dixon is a man used to crowds. Big crowds; crowds moving to Dixon’s kinetic rock and roll performances through the decades. He said an “exchange of energy” with the audience has been the heart of his working life as a world-travelling musician playing in The Guess Who, April Wine and Coney Hatch.

“Suddenly, when the pandemic hit – all that was gone. It wasn’t just a huge impact on finances, it impacted me personally,” Dixon said in an email.

Early in the pandemic, online-only performances didn’t conduct the same energy. Even still, he played shows such as an online Haliburton County Folk Society livestream from the Dominion Hotel Pub.

“I’m an entertainer, and now being left with online events as the only immediate fallback really wasn’t sustainable if I was to keep a positive outlook. Being on the road, travelling across the US, Canada and Europe is also what I love about my work but now that was gone.”

Dixon estimates over 100 shows were cancelled one by one. Many were postponed, but others weren’t rebooked.

He said it was a time to reinvent himself.

He became the voice – and melody – of Harvey’s Canada-wide frontline healthcare worker thank you tour, thanks to a connection from a marketing friend.

“Soon I was back on the road playing (at a distance) under strict health guidelines – but over the weeks I played to thousands of front line workers across Canada at these Harvey’s events,” Dixon said.

Dixon was involved in a car collision in 2008, leaving him comatose for 10 days, and a long road to recovery

The downtime during the pandemic was also a chance for him to have the metal installed in his leg removed. In hospital, doctors had to fight off infections before and after surgery, and he was on an intravenous drip.

“Remarkably they removed all the titanium from my left leg and now, at last, I am back playing hockey again,” Dixon said. “We all need a pastime that lifts our spirits. Hockey makes me feel good.”

Along with his star-studded music career, Dixon began touring as an inspirational speaker following his accident.

He has plenty of experience picking himself up after life throws curveballs.

“The pandemic reminded me to set goals: reinvent what you do using skills you have; and face problems with hope for a positive outcome.”

Carl Dixon is back on the road this summer, stopping in at the Highlands Brewing Company July 30.