Born on the island of Tortola in the sailing paradise of the British Virgin Islands, Chad is the son and second child of a Canadian father and an American mother who found themselves operating a modest beach bar in that archipelago in the late 70's and early 80's. At six months of age, Chad was loaded upon the family sailboat and the four embarked upon a circumnavigation of the Earth that would take them to over 40 countries over the next 5 years. Along the way, Chad gained another sibling, and the five Van Herks returned to the US where they now find themselves-most of the time, anyway.
Such an initial upbringing no doubt imparts a young man with a fearless sense of discovery and a profound love and respect for the sea. Chad's parents, however, decided it best to provide him with a proper education, so why not keep him from getting distracted by the ocean? So, they moved to Indiana, his mother's home state.
It was in Plymouth, Indiana, where Chad began his primary education, and so he remained until he graduated from Plymouth High School. Though he took early interest in piano and saxophone, it is not until he was 15 that Chad picked up the guitar and began teaching himself chords and tablature. Though he leaned toward a career with the Coast Guard after High School, Chad was awarded scholarships that allowed him to afford to matriculate to Ball State University where he studied language and business, graduating cum laude. He also began to dabble with song writing while attending college, and one of these songs, "The Raft Song," has been included in his debut album, Leavin' Footprints.
Though Chad had received the education his parents had intended, he felt strongly about returning to the sea and, within a year of graduation, bought a small cruising sailboat, "Twiga," from savings earned from bartending and painting houses. With his father's initial help, continued feedback, and vast experience, the boat was refitted in the water in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, while Chad worked as a new accounts officer of a local bank, a couple of blocks from where Twiga was docked.
After two years of continued work on the sailboat, saving every dollar he could while sailing and surfing whenever possible on weekends and evenings, Chad decided to take a 12 month sabbatical to sail to his place of birth in the British Virgin Islands. It had been a life-long dream of his to do so by boat, and he had in fact pledged to a handful of friends one summer evening in Indiana so many years before that he would do so by the time he was 25 years of age.
Chad celebrated his 25th birthday in the British Virgin Islands, after sailing alone and with family and friends at different times throughout his journey. He worked for a time for a local resort, saving enough money to sail a bit further, as far south as Grenada, before returning to Florida, where he became all too aware of the overinflated cost of living versus the quality of life and decided to look for a more reasonable place to grow roots-he returned to Indiana, and put a down payment on an old farmhouse with proceeds from the sale of his beloved sailboat.
Many of Chad's personal anecdotes from his life and travels are in the form of song, and these songs have found their way into his two albums, both of which he recorded in his old farm house when he found the time--between an otherwise busy schedule of remodeling, gardening, work, and play (including surfing Lake Michigan, sailing, snowboarding, camping, and multisport [triathlon]). Since publishing Leavin' Footprints in 2009, Chad has married his long time girlfriend, Liz, and they live together with a few cats, a yellow lab, and a barn full of Liz's horses.
Chad released his second album,Daydreaming Days Away, in 2011. This sophomore offering includes another 14 original tracks evoking a sense of quiet longing to escape his current landlocked status and return to the sea and the lifestyle he left at the shoreline. However, one can also derive from the album that he is content in the love and happiness he's found in the green countryside of the midwest. Utilizing additional drum, guitar, and bass accompaniment along with occasional vocal harmonies, Daydreaming Days Away offers a bit more of a full bodied acoustic band feel, though Chad recorded all tracks himself and insists it is still "simple six-string music."
Chad's third record, Twisted Strings, was released in 2015, featuring 15 original acoustic tracks recorded at his home studio in Plymouth and album art by his sister Sandi Allen. The album presents simplified tracks with limited overdubbing, and little instrumentation on top of acoustic guitar, very much the way he may sound live. These songs tie in with his life stories, including a song each for his two children, "Sky and Sea" and "Summer Brooke" and further story-telling of his own experiences. The crooning begins with "It's All Because of You" and slips effortlessly to the fun-loving "Act My Shoe Size" and Cold Wind Blow," then both celebrates and seeks continued love from his wife Liz in tracks such as "Grow Old With Me" and "Hey Mama". A solemn introspection begins to form in "We're Alright" and "We Hold the Key", but is anchored to good humor with "Overland Trail". While a rare taste of political views break through slightly in the catchy "NBD", there is an immediate return to story-telling in "The Beat Lingers On" regarding a memory of his early sailing days. The track "Aloha Oe" is a tale woven of a very special trip to Hawaii to sing for a little boy named Trek Atlas and help raise money and awareness for Niemann-Pick, a rare genetic disorder Trek suffered from and ultimately succombed to. With the title track, which is the final track on the record, Chad makes peace with limited life and asks the powers that be to let him go in his sleep, at the end of a long, content existence. Who doesn't wish for the same?
Following the success of these three records, Chad refitted a 1971 Irwin 37 sailboat and took his family cruising throughout the Bahamas for two winter seasons, perhaps finding additional inspiration for an upcoming fourth album...stay tuned.Thanks for listening.