Lassen County Times, Westwood Pine Press
Tuesday, Dec. 18, 2007 9B
San Diego songwriter releases live CD recorded in Susanville
News Editor [email protected]://www.tradebit.com
Susanville immortalized on a compact disc — who would have ever thought such a thing was possible? Well, now that unexpected possibility actually has become a reality
Dave Howard, a songwriter from San Diego, appeared on March 31,2007at Susanville’s Sierra Theatre as part of the Guitar Heaven concert sponsored by the Lassen County A rts Council and the theatre.
Patching directly into the soundboard, John Katchur, another San Diego songwriter who also appeared on the Guitar Heaven bill, digitally captured the show on his laptop computer Now, Howard’s six songs from that concert and another three entirely new studio recordings are included on his recently released CD — “Live at the Sierra Theatre.”
Katchur’s recording of the live tracks, the additional recordings by Howard at Stephouse Studios and the mastering of the whole shebang by San Diego whiz-kid Sven-Erik Seaholm all fit together seamlessly to create a sonically rich and satisfying product that easily rises to professional production standards.
This CD isn’t only about the top-rate production. The truth is Howard, who first appeared in Susanville as part of a Guitar Heaven concert in 2003, put on an impressive performance the night the CD was recorded, nearly stealing the show from headliners Berkley Hart. His guitar playing rumbled at the right times and sparkled at others, and his voice was strong and confident throughout. To repeat the cliché, he had the audience eating out of the palm of his hand. No kidding.
Best of all, Howard presented some absolutely fabulous songs to an appreciative and responsive audience that makes a huge contribution to the CD’s eventual happy ambience.
This recording captures all the hoops, hollers, whistles, cheers, claps, stomps and heartfelt applause Howa rd so deftly drew from the enthusiastic, sold-out house that night.
For those of us who attended the Guitar Heaven concert, the CD is a delightful piece of memorabilia from a wonderful evening spent with a brilliant artist at the very top of his game. Everyone else still can get a pleasant earful of what they missed.
Howard said he frequently records his shows, not for release on CD but for his own growth as an artist and a performer — especially when he’s writing new material. But right away he said he knew this show in Susanville might be an unusual one.
"From the stage, I knew we had a special kind of vibe happening up there in Susanville that night,” Howard said in a telephone interview last week. “There are so many variables in a live performance, but I could feel the vibe was right, the audience was right, and I knew it was going to be a great show. It’s not just me because my performance is only part of the equation. The chemistry with the audience was great, and when you listen to the CD you can tell they’re totally into it. I’m very grateful to get that kind of experience once in a while. Susanville is a great town, and the audience is so supportive. And I hope this CD helps get the word out about what a wonderful town Susanville is.”
When Howard got back to San Diego with Katchur’s recording, he realized he could probably release the entire set but with just six songs it wasn’t really long enough for a CD by itself. So he added a few other things that had been left over from other recording projects or were requested tunes from live shows to fill out a possible CD.
After listening to the completed master, Howard said, “[he] did such a good job tying everything together it just sounded great. At that point there was no reason not to release it.”
Five of the six songs recorded in Susanville appeared on Howard’s second CD — entitled “Into The Wind.” The remaining live song, “Only Human (Or Trying To Be)” makes its debut on this release as do the three studio tracks.
Howard said he never makes a set list before a show and just “wings it” and “feeds off the vibe” when selecting his live material, so the selection of so many songs from a single CD was completely unintentional.
The new CD includes all of Howard’s Susanville performance, except some of the between-song patter has been removed to the make the set flow a little better.
All the songs on the CD were written by Howard except “Something To Fall Back On” — which he cow rote with Calman Hart, half of the Berkley Hart duo that also appeared at the Guitar Heaven show last March.
The live show portion of the CD includes “Pieces Of Me,” “Life Begins At Zero,” “Only Human.” “Into The Wind,” “Something To Fall Back On”and the ever popular “Fifty Foot Woman,” a tune that even has a humorous Susanville connection.
“So, my last visit up here was in 2003,” Howard told the audience at the Sierra Theatre, “and of course it’s mandatory when you come to Susanville to go to Walkers, right? So we go to Walkers for breakfast, and this young man walks up and says, ‘Last time you were here I was the guy in the back washing dishes singing your song.’ And I said, really, what song was it? And he said, ‘Fifty Foot Woman.’ So I said, what’s your name? And he said, ‘Zach.’ And I said, well, Zach, we were at Walkers this morning and you weren’t there. And he said, “Yeah, they fired me.”
The audience bursts into laughter, and Howard drops the perfect punch line, “So now I’d like your help in singing along on the song that got Zach fired!”
The audience joyfully obliges and even keeps time by clapping. It’s an enjoyable four minutes or so even if you only hear this funny song for the first time on the CD. Ah, but if you were there in the Sierra Theatre that night
wow, what a memory!
The studio recordings that round out the CD include ,‘ You Belong To Me Tonight,” ,‘ Wish You Strength” and “Sometimes It’s Hard To Fly”
Showing off his guitar slinger prowess, Howard slips deftly from standard tuning into DADGAD tuning — an open tuning popular among San Diego musicians — and the old folkie favorite, drop D tuning.
Howard, frequently called “San Diego’s most covered songwriter” has had his material recorded by The Coyote Problem, A.J. Croce, Seaholm, Berkley Hart, Gregory Page, Katchur Jeff Clark and Dani Carroll.
That’s not unusual. Howard’s talent as a master songwriter is evident in both his intelligent, revealing lyrics and his catchy, memorable melodies, offering his listeners an opportunity to share his unique perspective on the human condition.
To get a copy of the “Live at the Sierra Theatre” CD or for more information on Howard, visit his Web site at https://www.tradebit.com
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