Songwriter who became consumer advocate, Dave Carroll playing deCoste

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PICTOU – Dave Carroll’s a little relieved that his precious guitar won’t have to travel by air when he comes to Pictou this week.

Carroll, who became a household name nearly three years ago when his music video “United Breaks Guitars” went viral, will be performing at the deCoste Centre April 27.

The tune was Carroll’s response to the poor customer service he received after United Airlines baggage carriers heaved his $3,500 Taylor guitar out of a plane in March 2008, smashing the instrument.

Carroll, also a member of the Sons of Maxwell, was en route to Omaha for a show and found himself in a customer service nightmare. He spent a year fighting the system as he was blocked time after time by the company as he attempted to recoup his $1,200 loss. It prompted him to write a trilogy of songs in response to the situation.

It’s also turned the Nova Scotia musician into a consumer advocate for people everywhere who have become the victim of bad customer service. Recently, Carroll founded www.gripevine.com, a new social media website for consumer complaint resolution.

“This is a place to give consumers a voice who don’t feel they can sing or make videos,” said Carroll, who has travelled around the world for speaking engagements since his songs went viral.

“I’m a little like Forrest Gump,” he said with a chuckle. “I just kind of appear in all of these magical places.”

It’s had a huge impact on people, he says, which was in evidence when his name was the answer to a Jeopardy question when two of the gameshow’s top prize winners faced off against a computer last year.

He’s also written a book about his own experience with United Airlines, title “United Breaks Guitars: The Power of One Voice in the Age of Social Media.” Due out on shelves May 15, the book tells the story of the behind the scenes events that led to Carroll’s songs and what happened in the media frenzy that followed.

“I wasn’t a consumer advocate when all of this began – I took a bad experience and took action. What I did resonated with so many millions of people,” he said. “I had the creativity to get the upper hand and take control of the situation.”

His trademark tune will be one of the songs he performs Friday when he hits the stage at the deCoste. He’ll be joined by a small band, including Pictou County native Mike Hiltz, who can be seen in the United Breaks Guitars video as one of the amigos.

The performance, which gets underway at 8 p.m., will also feature more of Carroll’s original tunes and promises to be a story-filled night as Carroll shares stories and music with the audience.

Tickets are on sale now.

Organizations: United Airlines, One Voice, Age of Social Media

Geographic location: Omaha, Nova Scotia, Pictou County United Breaks Guitars

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