SPECIAL TO THE WESTERN STAR
CORNER BROOK, N.L. — After 35 years in the music business, Newfoundland's Dave McHugh has just completed his first international tour — sort of.
One thing is certain, he has performed and entertained thousands of people all over the world, all while sailing aboard a luxury cruise ship.
"I'm pinching myself," he said in a recent interview. "Right now, I'm getting paid to go around the world on a ship."
Not only that, he now has a new song about his experiences entertaining the cruise ship community.
The Corner Brook native has made a living entertaining and performing in Newfoundland and Labrador and various other parts of the country. He went from playing in bands to being a solo performer on the local club circuit, with his career bolstered by plenty of festivals and corporate gigs. In 2000, McHugh released his first CD, "The Dreamer," and followed that up with the 2015 release of "Whatever Makes You Happy."
The veteran musician began touring various parts of the mainland, developing a circuit in southern Alberta. One evening, he was approached by an audience member after the show who worked for Norwegian Cruise Lines and told him he'd be a good fit for cruise ship gigs.
The chance meeting put McHugh in touch with an agency based in Miami. One audition tape later, he was ready to set sail aboard the Norwegian Jade luxury liner.
The gig began with McHugh performing as a solo guitarist and singer, but the engaging Newfoundlander soon found his way into larger venues on the ship. Settling into his new home on the big ship, McHugh found himself surrounded by a large community of shipmates he described as being not just hard workers, but kind, happy, generous and genuinely humble people.
Despite having gone to port in some of the most sought-after destinations in the world, and having visited iconic landmarks such as the Acropolis in Athens, McHugh was fascinated with the people who worked on the ship.
One phrase frequently-used by them soon caught his attention.
"A lot of my Portuguese-speaking friends, from Portugal and Brazilian, would fist pump each other and say ‘tudo bem,'" said McHugh.
The phrase, he explained, is pronounced phonetically as "toto bang." He inquired as to what it meant and was told it is used both to ask "how are you" and to reply "all is good."
The musical wheels began turning and soon the inspired McHugh had penned his new song, titled "Tudo Bem." He then made a video for it, incorporating the people who work on the cruise ship.
"A song sort of comes out kind of easy when the feeling is there," he reflected. "I wrote it fairly fast and got the ship’s cameraman to help me record the video...it's a video scrapbook I got to take off the ship."
With offers coming in from competing cruise lines, and McHugh fully intending to make the most of the momentum, things are indeed looking "tudo bem" for the Corner Brook entertainer.