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Columns > Mike Gruenberg - In My Life

Published: 2001/11/20
by Mike Gruenberg

Dave Nachmanoff

As a teenager growing up in the late 50’s and early 60’s in New York City, one of my fondest memories was coming home from school and watching American Bandstand. Dick Clark, who was really young at the time, hosted a show based in Philadelphia where you could watch the latest dances, performed by the most adept dancers, hear and see your favorite performers lip sync their latest musical offerings. It was actually quite humorous to watch a group seemingly perform live when you knew that their guitars were not plugged into the amps behind them. Nevertheless, it was good fun and where else could a teen see the best groups of the day. Virtually every group had to go through Philadelphia and appear on this very popular television show.
My favorite part of American Bandstand was the segment where Dick would play three new songs and a number of selected teens from the audience would give their assessment. Most of the times, their reasoning for liking or not liking the record was unintelligible. "I liked the beat" was usually the most prolific of the rationale used as opposed to the usual nonsense such as "I liked the song cause my sister once dated the lead singer." For me, understanding all the parts of a song and being able to relate that with some degree of clarity and intelligence was important. Whether it was the lyrics, the production, the hook line that made you remember a word or phrase all made me want to analyze the entire song.
You may be wondering how does a musician named Dave Nachmanoff have any relevance to my forgotten youth glued to the television screen watching teenagers dance in Philadelphia. There is a theme here, so bear with me.
I was given Dave’s first CD "Candy Shower" (Troubador Records # TR003) a number of years ago. It was recorded in 1997. I gave it a cursory listen and quite frankly it wasn’t the type of music that I was listening to at that time. Shortly thereafter, my daughter gave me a David Grisman CD. She urged me to listen to it and I soon realized that Dave Nachmanoff’s style was similar to David Grisman and yet the two were clearly different. I then went back to listen to "Candy Shower" and was impressed with the beauty of the lyrics and the general good time feeling of the album. I particularly like Candy Shower, Waiting for A Sign and Descartes in Amsterdam. These are the first three cuts on the album and although they are completely different, they flow beautifully together. My favorite, Descartes in Amsterdam is based on the philosopher Descartes who spent a considerable amount of time in Amsterdam away from his home in Paris. My other favorite is Little Visitor, which is a poignant ode to his brother. Anyone who has a brother should listen to this tune. If I were Dave’s brother, I’d be greatly honored and humbled by this song.
Dave recently came to my attention once again with the release of his third album "A Certain Distance" (Troubador Records # TR 005). Hearing this album was like welcoming an old friend into your home and realizing how much he has grown since his last visit. In the four years since "Ear Candy" Dave has certainly learned his craft quite well. The lyrics are still intelligent, the music is more complete and the production is clean which means the finished product is as good as any folk music CD on the shelves of your favorite music store.
A Certain Distance is a great tune to begin the album. This uptempo song sets the stage for what promises to be a well-crafted musical journey. Dave’s vocal is strong backed by producer, Don Conoscenti’s percussion, Bob Malone’s keyboards and background vocals by Ellis Paul and Rachel McCartney. The beauty of this song is that it flows beautifully from start to end without any let down. Early Train is a ballad that has enough strength to be sung by a Rod Stewart. As a matter of fact, the electric guitar part of this song was reminiscent to me of the Rod Stewart/Jeff Beck collaboration of "People Get Ready." My favorite, Real Good Thing is one of those songs you immediately sing along with. In my opinion, this is a hit song. It’s the best song on the album.
The album has many strong and interesting sides to it. For example, The Loyalist speaks of a family living in America during the Revolutionary War who remained loyal to the British. It is actually based on fact since Dave’s wife’s ancestors were loyalists. In 1761,
they came here from Germany to escape religious persecution. King George sponsored them to have land in America. Their dilemma was whether to participate in the war against the government who had actually saved them or fight with the colonists. As a person of the Hebraic persuasion, I particularly like the song called Let’s Eat, which takes the listener through the Jewish holiday of Passover. It brought back many pleasant memories of matzo, hamantaschen, latkes and Queen Esther. This song should be required singing at all Hebrew Schools throughout the world.
So how does my listening to American Bandstand tie into Dave Nachmanoff? In actuality, it doesn’t. However, the tie in here is that when I first listened to Dave, I did not give it my full attention. Only by chance did I remember Dave because of the Grisman album. I then went back, listened more carefully to "Ear Candy" and became a fan of Dave’s music. If you go to his web site, you will learn that he has a doctorate and is a Professor of Philosophy. From an early age, he has written and performed music. Dave has remained true to his craft and his goal to become a better musician. He has not strayed from his early goals. I would strongly recommend his albums.

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