David had been on our hit list since, purely by chance, seeing his amazing one camera take of the track ‘State Of The Union’ from his debut album, ‘I Sincerely Apologise For All The Trouble I’ve Caused’, on YouTube. We were floored not just by the originality and ingenuity, but also the passion with which the song was delivered. This was 2006 and we were still running Live at the Talbot in Tregaron, mid-Wales. We immediately wanted to book him, so started to track him down.
Fast forward almost thirteen years and, despite many attempts and some fleeting near misses, David had remained frustratingly out of reach. Having finally managed to bring him to our stage, he freely admitted that our inability to secure him was not a case of his being evasive, but instead down to poor admin! Indeed, in this age of seemingly constant social media self-promotion, it was only when he was in the van on the way from his home in Eastbourne to the show, that the idea of mentioning it on his Facebook page occurred to him.
This inability, or perhaps unwillingness, to engage with the business machinery was possibly explained in part during his show, which constituted a departure from his usual performance style into something of an interactive retrospective on his 15 year ‘career’. That word is placed deliberately in inverted commas, as David himself doesn’t think of what he does as a career. As he explained during what was a pretty much heart-on-the-sleeve performance, any idea of a ‘career’ in the music business ended, at least in part, during the very painful creation and promotion of his second album, ‘Let The Hard Times Roll’.
He clearly enjoys the fact that he now has the freedom to create music the way he wants, and the loyalty and connection with a sizeable army of genuine fans on both sides of the Atlantic. However, his brushes with the ‘suits’ of the business over the years wounded him so deeply that he once almost stopped making music, and those wounds have clearly left scars, at least one of which takes the shape of ‘I Choose This’, both the title of a song and his book. The subtitle of the book is ‘How To Nearly Make It In The Music Industry’ and perfectly captures the wryness of his humour and why he now chooses to carve his own, completely individual path.
The stage was set to create the impression that we had been invited into David’s front parlour; part concert, part theatre. In a show lasting around two and a half hours, we got anecdotes, question and answer sessions that gave an intriguing insight into this particular songwriter’s creative processes, and of course a bunch of wonderful songs. We even got, as part of an answer to one of those questions, an impromptu version of ‘You Were Always On My Mind’, a hit for Elvis, Willie Nelson and The Pet Shop Boys, and a song that David greatly admires for it’s perfect marriage of sentiment and melody.
This particular show format from David is still something of a work in progress. He admitted to the audience that he’s still having trouble with the running times and it may not suit those who want a more conventional, song-led show. However, for his fans and those who are interested in what makes a great songwriter and performer tick and the hurdles they have to overcome to create their own identity and maintain self respect, this is an engrossing and immersive experience. The passion is still there, but rather like a magician revealing how it’s done, he gave us an insight into what actually created it.
Photos by Keith Belcher