David Essig is something of a Renaissance man.
This guitarist, mandolinist, kayagum player, novelist, singer, composer, record producer and radio host will be making a rare appearance in the Comox Valley at Courtenay’s Old Church Theatre on Friday, Feb. 3.
Essig (sometimes along with his old studio mate Daniel Lanois) produced what have become known as some of the Iconic Folk Albums in Canada for folkies including Willie P Bennett, Cathy Fink and Duck Donald, Dixie Flyers, Fred Eaglesmith, Jackie Washington and many others.
Who better to tell his story but the man himself:
“I was born in Frederick, Maryland in 1945 and spent the early part of my life in the Washington, DC area where I became immersed in two intense musical traditions: bluegrass and country blues. I had the good fortune to work at the Arlington Music Company where I learned to play the guitar and mandolin from John Duffey, founding member of the Country Gentlemen and the Seldom Scene.
“While I was absorbing the high, lonesome sound of bluegrass, I was also blessed to meet and learn from two of the masters of the Delta Blues tradition: Mississippi John Hurt and Neamiah Skip James.
Well-grounded in those roots, I came to Canada in 1971 and have been here ever since – living for the past 28 years on the Gulf Islands in British Columbia.
“I am often asked, ‘What kind of music do you play?’ The best answer I’ve been able to come up with is ‘authentic.’ I make songs that combine the narrative style of my literary heroes, Alden Nowlan, Raymond Carver and Richard Ford, with the intense, blues-flavoured slide guitar playing that’s often associated with Ry Cooder. I’m basically a finger-picker, working a lot in open tunings, and building songs out of blues and country traditions.
In addition to writing and performing music, I’ve also written a novel, Dancing Hand, that was published in 2014 and has created a new audience of readers with whom I’m delighted to share stories.
As my song says, it’s been a “long, sweet, ride” and I’m still in the saddle – performing songs, old and new, and sliding my socket wrench the best I can on that guitar.
The nicest compliment I’ve ever received was from a 12-year-old at a sound check: “The dude can shred!”
Limited tickets for the show on Feb. 3 are available at www.oldchurchtheatreshows.com
Comox ValleyConcertsCourtenayLive musicVancouver Island MusicFest