David J moves forward on his endless road of travels and new adventures with his latest release ‘Vagabond Songs’, Dbl LP on Last Hurrah Records. His songs come straight from the heart as David J writes about his encounters and experiences while living like a vagabond rolling from venue to venue. Today his work sits closer to my Bob Dylan and Leonard Cohen records than his post-punk beginnings with Bauhaus. For the last few years he’s literally been playing in living rooms and other types of places such as; old churches, nightclubs, and even a few festivals along the way. Occasionally, David J will be accompanied by other talented musicians such as; Chrysta Bell, Darwin, Joel Rhodes (The Connells, Strange), Daniel Chavis (The Veldt), Emily Jane White, Jennie Vee (Courtney Love) and Johnette Napolitano (Concrete Blond) just to name a few.
The shows have been mostly scaled back affairs where simple acoustics accompany David’s dreamy vocals. It quickly becomes an intimate moment between the audience, the music and the man as he pours his heart and soul out into the microphone. From the very first cords that are strung the audience sits captivated as they lay witness to one of music’s greats playing in such an intimate setting.
I’ve had the opportunity to see a few of these ‘living room shows’ with each one being completely different. The first was in an old church in S.F where it had been converted into a nightclub, leaving it’s gorgeous Victorian décor intact. The next was in a small fishing town on the coast of Washington with a spectacular setting overlooking the harbor. This would also mark the first and only time I’ve witnessed a rowdy bunch of fans, you just never know how it’s going to be and that’s part of the beauty of it.
The last would be my favorite show at The Old Portland in Portland, Oregon, which is owned by Courtney Taylor-Taylor of The Dandy Warhols. As we arrived, the first thing we noticed was Courtney himself sitting on a stool checking guests in as they arrived. He would also go into great detail about how the interior was decorated right on down to the repurposed fixtures to the walls covered in posters and show flyers. The stage was more like a small platform no more than 3 ft by 6 ft and the show was completely unplugged. Unlike the rowdy bunch the night before…there was a magical intensity to the energy in the house yet at the same time you could hear a pin drop. David J was bringing back ‘The Day That David Bowie Died’ to the place in which it was written. The wall directly across from the stage was home to a very large poster of David Bowie and would be David J’s view for the evening.
Whether it’s in New York, Northampton, Portland or Detroit, David J’s music quickly takes you away from your everyday routine to a place of romance, life experiences and foreign places. The first track off ‘Vagabond Songs’ was written while he was passing through Portland, Oregon on the day that David Bowie died. Appropriately it’s titled, ‘Where Were You The Day That David Bowie Died’.
“Something Happened On The Day He Died”
“As with every David Bowie album from Hunky Dory on, I purchased Blackstar on the day of it’s release. I was on tour at the time and had set aside the evening of Saturday, January 9 to immerse myself in it (post show) via headphones in the dark, dark basement of that night’s venue, an old house in suburban Seattle. The album blew me away. Once again Bowie had dared to dive into wild unchartered territory and it was thrilling to tag along. The following day I travelled by train to Portland having booked a recording session there on the Monday. That night David Bowie left the planet. In a state of shock I played the new album for the second time. Now with an entirely different perspective. Listening to it in that very weird, poignant and strangely exalted state I was struck by the notion that Bowie had created an incredibly complex and layered swan song and had, in effect, transformed his death into an astonishing work of art. By the time the final track came on I was weeping copiously. Those tears needed somewhere to go. They ended up in a song. One that simply poured out of me. I recorded it the next day. (Props to Revolver Studio owner and engineer, Collin Hegna for assembling such a great group of musicians at such short notice in order to fully realize the work at hand.)”
David J – 2016
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Feature Photo by Rui Maia Pereira