Maverick London bluesman Son of Dave released his new single ‘Second Hand Present’ earlier this week, complete with a video starring a Muppet incarnation of himself in a Santa suit. John Clay caught up with him (we presume the human version) to talk Christmas, consumerism and austerity.
So, who is this Dave person and why is your musical output tipping the hat to his son?
My daddy is Dave. He was an existentialist. Nobody knows the troubles I’ve seen.
Did he impact your musical journey in anyway? He certainly influenced your penchant for a turn of phrase though right? Him being an English teacher? The mouth on you.
Gave me my first harmonica and got me going on it. Then taught me fear and good grammar. But enough about Dave…
A potent influence to say the least. What inspires you these days? This last single came about via a conversation about austerity. Ever been tempted to write an overtly political song about current U.K politics?
These days everybody is inspired politically. It feels more urgent, but I’ve always been making blues tunes addressing greed, lying, luxury, consumerism, and crassness. ‘Ain’t Going To Nike Town’, ‘Devil Take My Soul’, ‘Your Mercedes’, ‘We Goin’ Out’, ‘Old Times Were Good Times’… nothing has changed over here. People don’t even get the words I’m singing as political. It’d have to be overtly political to be called such. But political words, economic words, the language of the news just doesn’t sound good. It can’t co-exist with the music. ‘Blowing In The Wind’ was not called ‘Protest The Establishment, Imperialist War Mongers and Their Media Operatives and Resist The Draft’. Rap gets away with it, but that ain’t my bag.
Perhaps we’re living in ever increasing times of extremism? Where it’s not enough to make a song with subtle sentiments, but that the overt is recognisable whereas the covert and arguably more poetic risks not being picked up? Is this the age of overstatement? Have we witnessed the death of nuance? Discuss!
You’re not from Reader’s Digest, are you? Listen, I’m a Bluesman. I have to entertain people and give them just enough to think about and hope so they won’t drink themselves to death. Overstating the case for lynching the fatcats is only going to further polarize people. They go in the gutter, we go up on the roof.
And yet overstatement seems to be the mode of the moment. Desperate times have lent artists more entitlement to speak on behalf and arguably monopolise our polarised era for their brands. How did we end up here and how hard is it for Son of Dave to navigate such choppy waters on his trusty dinghy dubbed Nuance?
It’s not a problem to navigate. This isn’t for Guns & Ammo magazine either is is? I don’t see anything new about the current climate. Complacency comes and goes. The Clash (fine bluesmen for example) didn’t pull any punches. Had to spell it out. Black music has had to sing or shout at the top of their lungs since slavery. Life ain’t so hard in Canada, but they still listening to guitar solos, so I don’t get much work there. What was the question?
There was a question or two about the simulacra of political statements in music and how it affects the idea of an artist stimulating thought rather than pushing messages, but it might be time to turn our attention to the single at hand. ‘Second Hand Present’ is your Christmas single. Care to share an interesting titbit about the writing process?
OK bub, whatever you say. ‘Second Hand Present’ was started when my wife said “It’s gonna be a credit card Christmas” last year. Well I sat down at the piano and wrote this. Had to change the name however, because Spotify won’t share out songs with the word ‘Christmas’ in the title. Learnt that the hard way last year. I guess they’re trying to avoid offending their Jewish or Muslim customers. Fuck knows. I have no sympathy with any of ’em. But ‘Second Hand Present’ works fine for me. There’s your tit bit.
Shame about the banning of the word Christmas on that platform. If it is for the reasons you surmise than that’s a whole new clump of hair torn out of my afro. In our previous interview you wanted to make a point of the benefits of second hand giving. Do you think the world needs a reminder of hand me down consumerism?
Don’t get your fro in clumps over it. Leave that to us balding old guys to worry about. The western world certainly needs education about second hand shopping. The majority still think it’s dirty. Primark is a far dirtier place to my reckoning. But it’s depressing to see the gulf between us and them. I was raised (Dave again) going to the Sally Ann every weekend. Most are raised going to the mall. They have caused the shit storm we now find ourselves in. You can’t even get good muppet fabric at the mall. Shepherd’s Bush Market fabric stalls for that.
Sally Ann is colloquialism for Salvation Army, or is it an outlet in your native Canada?
Not to be confused with Downtown Sally Brown. Salvation Army Thrift Store is a Sally Ann, yes.
Cheers. Do remind us of when you’re playing your music live again?
Paris next week. Get a train. Otherwise the gigs here in the UK have dried up for winter mostly. Supporting an American blues guitar gymnast, Sonny Landreth at Islington Assembly in January. Then lots of UK gigs will be announced for March, April etc. Best follow across a few platforms to find out about new music and shows. Twitter is the best for this Bluesman. Facebook is a thieving man-whore. Cough. And thanks for the interview in Linguistic Expressionism, I hope your readers enjoy.
Nice. Merry Christmas Son of Dave!
‘Second Hand Present’ is available now via Bandcamp and all of the usual streaming sites.