Thursday, April 9, 2009
I heard from Dave Nevling the other day and it reminded me that I hadn't mentioned him much in my blog. No excuse, but I had written a review of his excellent Heady Brew back in the day when the now defunct Delta Snake website was publishing my stuff and since I thought I had printed out all those just in case the website disappeared, I was going to reprint it here when I ran across it again. After hearing from him, I spent most of a morning cleaning out a filing cabinet that I'd been meaning to clean out before now and found that I couldn't find the review or several others. Oh, well. I'll make it up this way.
I first heard Dave Nevling at one of Sonny Boy Terry's excellent harmonica blowouts. Now I know that readers here have heard me mention Mr. Terry's name a time or two and if you haven't gone over to DocBlues records by now and picked up his CDs, then you're missing out. Sonny Boy hosted a series of fine, fine harmonica revues featuring some of the finest harp blowers around and this particular one was at a fine Houston club called Dan Electros. Besides Sonny Boy's usual kick-butt playing, it was Dave who caught my ear that night. What really impressed me was his articulation and how he just flat worried the hell out of a note until it produced the tone that he wanted. At the time, I think he had two releases out called Nightshade and That Look and of course, I grabbed both of those and have enjoyed them immensely ever since.
Dave came out to a couple of different HOOT (Harmonica Organization Of Texas) meetings in Tomball (I've got to get around to a story or two about that group at some point, also). During his first trip Dave gave us a lesson in amplified harmonica and demonstrated his techniques and what stood out the most for me was his immaculate use of employing a flutter tongue in his playing. The second time around he brought his current, at the time, guitarist, Adam Birchfield with him. Adam plays some of the finest blues guitar around Houston. He's been in both Sonny Boy's and Dave's band and Snit Fitzpatrick's Snit's Dog and Pony Show and is just a well rounded player--oughta here him tear rockabilly up. Along with Adam, he brought out his new Meteor amplifier and those two got the blues vibe a-going all night long. Highlight for me was when he invited anyone who wished to get up and blow through his rig with Adam. No one bit but me, but I couldn't pass up playing through one of the best harp amps on the market, nor a chance to play with Adam. Dave and Adam were both complimentary of my playing, so that kept me pumped for awhile.
I'm ashamed to say that I think that the last time I saw Dave play was a great set at the Navasota Blues Festival a couple of years ago or maybe three. Seems that since I retired that I get out to see folks playing way less than when I worked for a living. What's up with that?! I dunno.
At some point, Dave put out what I think is his finest album. There is really nothing lacking with Heady Brew. Hey, just go over to his website or to CDBaby and listen to the opening harp tone on the very first cut, You the One and if that doesn't convince that harp player in you that you need this CD, then I can't help you. It's the first of twelve original tunes that make up a very fine harp release. Chase the kids away from the stereo before the second cut, Dip My Wick, because they may catch on that it's for adults only.
On the 6:51 Sweet Thing, Dave turns Adam Birchfield loose so you can hear what he's been hinting at on the previous nine cuts. I'll have to admit that I really don't know where Leon's BBQ is located, but based on the streets than Dave names, I'd have to say Galveston and it has that Gulf Coast groove, as does Jovina and I think that is what informs the style of blues that Dave plays--Texas Gulf Coast stuff that you don't find anywhere else. Of course, he cut his teeth playing with Coastal legend Bert Wills before venturing out solo. I think Bert, Sonny Boy, Tommy "Big Daddy Gumbo" Dar Dar and Dave have all absorbed the sea salt that is in the atmosphere of the region. Anyway--Good stuff!