David Ford is back in the USA and this time for a book tour – but there are no bookstore readings. Instead we get David doing what he enjoys – playing music for an appreciative audience. Like most people, I was always asking myself, “Why isn’t this guy a huge star?” He’s got the talent and the charisma. Well it’s not for lack of trying on his part or for those who believed in him. But David has decided that playing music for a small loyal audience suits him just fine. His last day gig was 10 years ago, so it seems to be working for him. And he’s playing three nights in the area and I’m going all three nights (leaving my sick bed for the shows because, yes, he’s that good).
Night one was at the lovely Turning Point Café up in Piermont (where we passed a smiling and waving WWII GI statue and found out that Piermont Pier is where most of the soldiers took off from and returned to during WWII). The town is quaint and the club is in the basement of a lovely old home. It feels like you’re in a friend’s house just hanging out. Peter, rtb, and I got there early enough to reserve my favorite seats and we went upstairs to the Mexican restaurant. David was doing a soundcheck and if I were a different person I would have engaged him in conversation because I’d have had him all to myself. As always David was wearing a small brimmed fedora – he is the only person who can wear that hat and not make me want to slap it off him. It suits him.
The show opened with David stomping his foot, a box shaker, and another shaker and “Nothing at All.” If this was your introduction to David then it was a good one – simple background and powerful voice with heartfelt lyrics. And then the next song, “Panic,” used looping, something that David does artfully and carefully with each of the instruments building up to a powerful final verse/chorus. This time around he used a Roland instead of his little piano that folds up for traveling. I missed the piano – it’s a wonderful character in his play. And once again David kept us laughing – after he performed “To Hell with the World” he said he’d promised to play that for an audience member but when he started it he’d forgotten that he’d made that promise until the second verse and then thought, “Oh shit,” so he was thinking of Leslie while singing so the emotion was guilt. When he was looping the tambourine at the start of “She’s Not the One” he banged his wristbone and when he started singing he quickly stopped, told us what happened, and then excused himself while he screamed in pain, and then continued with the song. Before “Decimate” he asked us not to clap along while he looped his clapping. You see, he’s a professional. And only about 4% of us have the rhythm to pull it off. As an experiment he had us clap along and it wasn’t long before someone in the audience messed up. When looping he said, “Check this shit out,” and that became part of the loop and it was funny to hear it repeat and repeat.
One change I always enjoy is what he does to “Go to Hell.” This is the first song I ever heard him sing and each time he does it he changes the instruments and how he does the looping. It’s always interesting and perfect and you never miss how he did it last time. Another change this time around was Frances Law, who sang back-up on a couple of songs. She’s British but now based in NYC and she’s sung back-up on some of his cds and at some of his shows. She didn’t really contribute a lot but her vocals were never distracting so I guess they added a nice touch.
After the show we each bought his book and the accompanying cd (and if you can’t make one of his shows, please go to his site and buy the book or a cd). Peter being Peter engaged him in conversation. rtb and I were the last two and we just smiled, asked for his autograph and hurried off. I wish we were different types of people – there were a lot of things I would have loved to say to him and ask him about but I have to accept that I’m not that person and I show my appreciation by going to his shows, buying all his cds, and encouraging others to see this amazing artist.
By Carene Lydia Lopez