Friday, February 22, 2008

Friday Interview : David Dondero (Or "Sham-sham-a-ling-a-whoa-dipty-dip")

I first met Dave Dondero in Champaign, Illinois when he was on tour with Tilly and the Wall. I remember watching him soundcheck and knowing right then that the guy was a total pro. Articulate and accurate, he has a good ear -- and since that night he has become one of my favorite songwriters in the world. There are few folks that can write songs with the depth, the humor and the level of fun that he musters.

After that show in Illinois, we traded CDs. I got a copy of South of the South (Team Love) and his Live at the Hemlock (Future Farmer) record. It took South of the South a little while to grow on me, but his Live CD -- wow -- I will listen to the record over and over again. And I did. I think we drove 15 hours the next day, and during that time I think I memorized every song he sang and every joke he told.

I find it really rare these days that music can impress me in a, for lack of a better term, life-changing way, but Dondero really did shake me up. And I think I've become a better musician by listening to his songs.

I was really excited that he agreed to do this interview, and I am also excited because Dondero will be on tour this Spring. Dates and interview are after the jump.

Hot Mess Magic : What do you want to hear on the weather report in the morning before you step out the door?

David Dondero : severe thunderstorms giving way to whispy clouds and sunshine. i love the after the rain smell in late spring.

H.M.M. : I had a really talented music friend who woke up one day and decided he wanted to become a banker -- and I'm sure that happens to musicians everyday, they decide to go back to school or start a family or whatever and they stop being musicians in a certain sense. They become dads or bankers who play music. What makes you wake up in the morning and still want to be a musician?
D. D. : well sometimes i wake up in the morning and wonder why the hell i'm a musician. i curse it then i find myself in a spat with myself. due to self esteem or feeling down about it... thinking i suck.. i beat myself up and wanta quit, because maybe someone said something negative about what i do or maybe because i just lose the passion for it if i do it too much. then i get it back if i put it down too long. something makes me wanta come back and i don't know why.

then i take a step back and look at the whole situation and realize nothing can ever be so good all the time. a good night and people liking it along with myself will get me going again. i can't tell you how many hair brained career ideas i've had other than music because it's hard to look at music as a career. it's never seemed like a job. when i start getting into the money part of it i start to feel sick but then realize i need it to pay my stacks of bills. then again.... all my friends who are bankers or lawyers or computer people have the same varying levels of bills and everyone feels inundated...

i feel lucky to be a musician. lucky to have people who believe in me enough to help me.. to still travel and see new places.. .sometimes though i am envious of those friends of mine who have straight jobs and nice places to live. i don't have those things. i don't own those things. so it's a quality of life issue and my lack of success in music equates to the lifestyle i lead. my spotty resume at this point is like a trap steering me back to music. saying.. ok buddy, this is all you can do now or completely start over. the reality of that is pretty bleak but then again can be pretty sweet and exciting.

H.M.M. : The first time I met you I asked you where you were from you said "everywhere". Which is a fair answer. But if you were required to settle down in one place, where would you want that place to be?
D. D. : no where. ....i don't know.. how bout my top ten and i can just ramble between the ten for all eternity... here they are... alaska, in summer during salmon season, duluth, minnesota,,, wilmington, nc. ,,, new orleans,,,,porto, portugal., stockholm, sweden,, san francisco,,, hobart, australia (tasmania) hanna, maui, montreal... i could live any of those places for awhile.

H.M.M. : When Herbie Hancock won the Grammy this year he mentioned the "shoulders of the giants" he had stood upon -- guys like Miles Davis and John Coltrane. I know Hancock was in a band with Miles for awhile -- which is probably the best school you could ever learn in -- was there anyone who showed you the ropes? Or a group of folks? How did you figure out how to do what you do?
D. D. : tony tidwell in south carolina, kenny roby of north carolina. both good friends and great songwriters. my friends in the band sunbrain. kind advice from jonathan richman. watching townes van zandt perform shortly before he died in atlanta.

H.M.M. : You're coming to SF for Noisepop at the end of the month. Is there a restaurant in that city somewhere you always look forward to eating in? A favorite stop?
D. D. : tommy's joint.... pancho villas and puerto allegre in the mission, and arinell's pizza. muddy waters coffee. can't wait.

H.M.M. : You are on Team Love Records now. What is the cool thing about being on a well-known label versus a smaller less-known one, or just doing it on your own? Are there any disadvantages that come to mind?
D. D. : it's always nice to have a little more pull from a label. not required. i never had it through the first several records and did ok. diy years were really fun. although at times frustrating and expensive. i accrued a huge credit card debt in the diy years. still digging out of. i'd do it again that way if necessary but as long as people are willing to help me i will gladly except and be thankful their support and the exposure. team love has been really good for me. but i still sell about the same amount of records as i did when i was on future farmer. no matter what label you are on it all comes down to if people wanta hear it or not.



Sat 03.01.08 San Francisco, CA The Independent(Noise Pop)
Sat 03.22.08 Houston, TX Walter’s on Washington
Mon 03.24.08 Baton Rouge, LA Spanish Moon
Tue 03.25.08 Hattiesburg, MS The Thirsty Hippo
Wed 03.26.08 Pensacola, FL Sluggo’s
Thu 03.27.08 Tallahassee, FL Florida State University - Club Downunder
Fri 03.28.08 Gainesville, FL Common Grounds Coffee House w/ Travis Morrison
Sat 03.29.08 Orlando, FL Backbooth
Sun 03.30.08 Tampa, FL New World Brewery
Mon 03.31.08 Jacksonville, FL Jackrabbits


Tue 04.01.08 Atlanta, GA The Earl
Thu 04.03.08 Athens, GA Caledonia Lounge
Fri 04.04.08 Wilmington, NC Soapbox Laundro-Lounge
Sat 04.05.08 Clemson, SC Clemson University
Sun 04.06.08 Chapel Hill, NC Local 506
Mon 04.07.08 Charlottesville, VA Twisted Branch Tea Bazaar
Tue 04.08.08 Arlington, VA IOTA Club and Cafe
Wed 04.09.08 Philadelphia, PA North Star Bar
Thu 04.10.08 New York, NY Knitting Factory
Fri 04.11.08 Brooklyn, NY Union Hall
Sat 04.12.08 Portland, ME SPACE Gallery
Sun 04.13.08 Buffalo, NY Mohawk Place
Mon 04.14.08 Ypsilanti, MI The Elbow Room
Wed 04.16.08 Chicago, IL Beat Kitchen
Fri 04.18.08 Omaha, NE Waiting Room
Sat 04.19.08 Denver, CO Larimer Lounge
Sun 04.20.08 Salt Lake City, UT Kilby Court
Wed 04.23.08 Seattle, WA The Comet Tavern
Thu 04.24.08 Portland, OR Holocene
Fri 04.25.08 Corvallis, OR Iovino’s
Sat 04.26.08 San Francisco, CA Hemlock Tavern #
Sun 04.27.08 Santa Cruz, CA The Crepe Place #
Mon 04.28.08 Merced, CA The Partisan #
Tue 04.29.08 Visalia, CA The Cellar Door #
Thu 05.01.08 Fresno, CA Tokyo Gardens #

# - w/ Nik Freitas

DOWNLOAD : David Dondero - When the Heart Breaks Deep
DOWNLOAD : David Dondero - Rothko Chapel
BUY : David Dondero - Simple Love
LINK : Team Love Records

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