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Ballad of Slavin' David
by Ellen Deutschman

from Free Venice Beachhead, January 1983 #157

What does the name Slavin' David Band reveal to you...names like the Canaligators, the Beachhouse, Blackies, etc.

Since those eventful days, S.D.B. (Slavin' David Band) had dropped anchor at the Sunset Saloon doing those blues-boogie-rock show that we in Venice so love.

Like Bruce Springsteen who played in front of the home crowd at the legendary Stone Pony in Asbury Park, N.J.; when his time came for the big move Bruce told his fans "it's time to tune on America," and he did.

Well, S.D.B. is at that turning point. They've attracted a management team and are about to embark on a long awaited L.A. tour with an all new show. Same vibes, new approach. And they need support from Venetian since they are an original Venice band, and you kno-o-ow that. They've played on the Boardwalk for you because that's home for beach musicians...they've played all those low budget shows at the Sunset for you. Years and years have passed. Now, like Springsteen, who catapulted from Asbury Park to national attention, S. D. B. wants to do likewise.

What follows is an interview with the leader of S.D.B., Slavin' David.

Q. What inspired you to pick up a guitar and begin composing?

A. I didn't really pick up a guitar and begin composing. I picked up a guitar and began to learn to play it. Creedence Clearwater songs and things like that. Composing didn't come around until I started to get my own bands together and realize that the only way to do anything was to compose original music. And I had some help from friends who gave me ideas and we started to come up with a few tunes.

Q. What inspired you to pick up a guitar?

A. Listening to Count Basie and Ray Charles when I was three years old.

Q. What is your musical education?

A. None, besides learning off records and listening to blues players.

Q. Where do your musical abilities come from?

A. From very natural abilities. They call certain players technical players and certain players are natural. In other words, I'm the kind of guy that can go play a gig one week and just not even touch a guitar, and pick it up the next week without even practicing and I'm right there. Of course, some nights are better than others.

Q. Do you have a family background, musically?

A. Yeah, there's some influence from my stepfather who played classical and flamenco guitar. That's how I started. My first guitar was...well, he had a funky nylon string hanging around so I kind of inherited it and started to play it. I guess you could say he was somewhat of an influence. He bought me my first electric guitar.

Q. What musical style do you appreciate?

A. Black.

Q. Why?

A. Because black music is the best music. It's funny, but some people think I'm from Memphis, Tennessee. I seem to associate well with peer groups of musicians, blues players that are black. I seem to be well accepted by them.

Q. Which musical giants/masters have you been most influenced by?

A. Jimi Hendrix, B.B. King, Albert King, jazz people -- John Coltrane. I don't see much of my playing in there but those are some of the people I associate with.

Q. Next to the guitar which instrument do you see as most penetrating?

A. Toss up between a good harmonica and a good saxophone player. Guitar is the most expressive as a solo instrument that you can find.

Q. Do you consider the voice an instrument?

A. Sure. Because it's a way of expressing emotion just as a lead guitar solo can express a certain emotion - everything from a sexual feeling to any other kind of felt emotion whereas the voice does the same thing...It brings people to certain levels as a musical instrument.

Q. Can you define rock 'n' roll historically?

A. I'm sure it goes all the way back to before the Civil War. You know... the basic roots of plantation songs. Rock 'n' roll definitely came from blues, from black music and it's very hard to say who defined it. Little Richard'll tell ya he invented it. Chuck Berry thinks he invented it. I don't know if Elvis thinks he did cause he was just a singer, but he was one of the best rock 'n' roll singers.

Q. Why do you feel rock 'n' roll has to be escapist?

A. Because the times are screwed up. I feel that people that come to the shows, any rock 'n' roll group's shows, are looking for an escape because they work in a factory and they don't dig it. They're this, they're that, whatever's happening. You got a problem with your girlfriend or whatever. You go to a rock 'n' roll show to let loose some tension, have a few drinks, get out on the dance floor and relate to the band.

Q. What are you utilizing the rock 'n' roll vehicle for, fame..., fortune?

A. Both. Just for the sheer satisfaction of doing it. Struggling and playing in clubs. When you're a local player and you have a lot of people that know you, they're always telling you, "When you gonna make the record, ride in the limo?" You kind get to thinking about it and you want to do it. It might sound corny or silly but I'd like to send my mom $10,000. I'd like to be comfortable. I'd like the money and the satisfaction of just doing it...being on top.

Q. Catchy name, "Slavin' David."

A. Yeah, this guy named Hook form the Venice Canaligators had named the players..Mighty Malnourished Michael, Mandocello Bobby, Slide Guitar Butch, and I was called Slavin' David 'cause I was a hard working boy.



© 2004 - 2012 Pat Hartman
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