Solon McDade grew up in a musical environment constantly surrounded by music and musicians. He began playing the washtub bass as soon as he was big enough to pick it up, and later moved on to the larger upright bass. He and his siblings were trained as musicians from a young age and exposed to their parents’ extensive and eclectic record collection. They were soon playing alongside their parents in the McDade Family Band, a group that toured Canada with their own brand of Canadiana folk music at festivals and theatres throughout the 1980s and 1990s. These gigs and particularly the late-night jam sessions at folk festivals left a lasting impression on Solon. From these experiences he retained a love of music, an openness to new sounds and a vision for musical possibilities which contribute to his versatility as a performer in a variety of musical genres. His style is described by Dirty Linen magazine as “complex and literate bass playing.”
His distinctive melodic and powerful bass playing provides the foundation upon which numerous recordings have been built. Recordings that feature Solon on bass have been nominated for five Juno Awards (Bill Bourne and Shannon Johnson, Maria Dunn (twice), Susie Arioli Swing Band, The McDades). His group, The McDades, won a 2007 Juno Award and two Canadian Folk Music Awards for their album “Bloom”.
Solon has been a part of multiple tours of Canada, the United States, Mexico, Germany, Holland, Switzerland, Denmark, Sweden, France, Luxemburg, Scotland, England Belgium and China. He has performed with a varied cast of artists such as blues musicians Luther “Guitar Jr.” Johnson, Billy Boy Arnold, Major Handy, Wild Child Butler and Michael Coleman; songwriters John Allen Cameron, Bill Bourne, Alejandra Ribera, Maria Dunn, David Wilkie, Rob Lutes and Thomas Hellman; jazz musicians such as the Susie Arioli Swing Band, Jan Jarczyk, Dawn Tyler Watson, Jordan Officer, Mike Rud, Ralph Sutton, Tim Tamashiro, Kent Sangster, Jon McCaslin and Bluegrass bands Guy Donis Trio and Notre Dame de Grass.
Solon holds a Diploma in Performance (1998) from MacEwan University in Edmonton, Alberta, a Bachelor of Music (jazz) (2002) and a Master’s in Performance (jazz) (2017) from Montreal’s McGill University. He was presented with the Distinguished Alumni Award from MacEwan University in 2014. Along with the five Juno nominations his recordings have also been nominated for 5 Canadian Folk Music Awards (won two), Five Independent Music Awards (won three), Three Western Canadian Music Awards and seven ARIAs.
Not content with simply being part of the rhythm section, Solon moves freely between being the lead melodic instrument and providing rock-steady bass lines. On stage, Solon's playful nature, ease and mischievous spirit contribute to intense and unforgettable performances.