Silky Dave Logo

Music For the Unbalanced

Banner: Closeup of guitar playing


I am happy to say that I am now a “family man” comfortably (though not always sanely?) residing in Upper NW DC (or as my good friend and former landlord WD likes to call it, “Upper Caucasia”). The summer of 2011 saw me leave behind a half-century of bachelorhood for my beautiful wife Karen and two lovely stepdaughters, Claire and Nell. I have never been happier (most days).
In brief: My wife Karen and I are now the owners/operators of Gypsy Sally’s, a live music venue in Georgetown which opened on September 12, 2013. It is all consuming, but I still find time to teach a few guitar students and host the Open Mic night every Tuesday night in the Vinyl Lounge adjacent to Gypsy Sally’s main music room.

I have a degree in Theatre from the University of Virginia. My best paid gig was a long time ago in a movie called “Valley Girl.” All I can say is that I liked the soundtrack, and I would love to catch up with Cameron Dye again. Spent most of the 80’s in Los Angeles, and I started hanging out with musicians as soon as I arrived in the Fall of 1981. In 1988 I joined my first band with one of those musicans who let me hang out as well as occasionally roadie. Bobby Perry, where are you now? I learned a lot from Bob, a great songwriter as well as bartender at Barney’s Beanery (where I once had a conversation with a smashed Jimmy Page, and didn’t realize it until after he’d left when Bob asked, “You know who that was, don’t you? doh!). Bob taught me to keep it simple and ride the groove. Always good advice…..The Bobby Perry Band aka Bobzilla played regularly at The Central (now The Viper Room on the Sunset Strip) and a few other places including The Troubadour. Highlights included opening for The Payne Brothers w/ Brian Setzer and having former Playmate of the Year, Angela Dorian (Victoria Vettri) as a backup singer. I miss Bob…..why he put up with me, I have no idea. I was a terrible bass player.

The next year Dave Tate and I formed our own band. Dave was my housemate in Hollywood and the drummer in Bob’s band. We had known each other from the Drama Dept. at UVA, and he stayed with me when he first came to L.A. in 1982. We later got a great house together at the corner of Franklin and Whitley in Hollywood; our parties were legendary, Halloween in particular. I put ads in the Recycler where we recruited all sorts of characters but finally settled on John Mansour (“The Irreverend,” who taught us “Plastic Jesus”) on bass and Robert Miranda on guitar. The first Silky Dave gig was in Feb. 1989 at The Central with Richard Rifkin on keys. The 50-minute set was mostly originals with a cover or two by Neil Young and The Grateful Dead. We had three guitarists over a two year period and my buddy Jep Epstein (who had done my first recordings in ’85) joined us on keys. There weren’t a lot of gigs; this was the notorious “pay to play” era on the Sunset Strip (does that still go on?) and Heavy Metal ruled the day. I did manage to get introductions to a few record company execs, most notably Capitol Records, so I got to shop a few songs with 8 and 16 track demos I had done with the band as well as Jep, but time ran out on me as I needed to come back to Virginia at the end of 1990 to help out my mother and ailing grandmother (my younger brother Stephen did most of the work, but I lended moral support and kitchen skills). From the vantage point of 2015 Hollywood was a lot more fun than it seemed at the time. I still dream about that house. Maybe some of our neighbors from that era still have nightmares.

I kept dabbling in music while living in DC, but I didn’t have the same drive, and I just drifted through a series of restaurant jobs. I spent a winter in Breckenridge, CO with brother Larry opening up his restaurant “The Bohemian.” The altitude didn’t agree with me, so I headed back to L.A. thinking I ‘d finish up the the CD project I’d started the year before. But I was done with L.A. and returned to DC after only six months. In 1994 I was starting to play out again and I met Tim Kugel through an ad I placed in The City Paper. I’ve had amazing luck with musician wanted ads and “Busker” Tim remains a trusted friend and musical mentor. Busker and I did a lot of fun acoustic cover gigs over the next year including Madam’s Organ and the short lived Red Stripe Cafe in Adams Morgan. In 1995 I had an opportunity to share an apartment in NYC with my brother Stephen, so I schlepped up there to see if I could get back in to acting.

New York kicked my ass in less than two years. I just never got comfortable. The restaurant gigs were brutal; I’ve never been around such miserable people. The staffs were great but the majority of the owners and managers were either incompetent or just plain mean. I have no tolerance for either affliction. My luck with music ads had left me as well. Did a bunch of movie extra work, but I never summoned the effort to get in with a serious agent. However, the experience was not a total loss as I made some good friends that I still visit regularly.

After that it was back to DC for more restaurant work and very little music. A relationship took me back to Central Virginia briefly, but since 2001 I’ve been back in DC. Worked at Iota, a great music bar and cafe in Arlington, VA. I had played at their open mics for years and just being around that scene full time got me thinking about my music again. Finally in 2003 after quitting a management gig at a failing Italian bistro and being very discouraged about the prospects of interviewing at another restaurant, I wandered into a Potbelly Sandwich Works to find out what the deal was with their Muscians for Hire ads. I was soon playing five days a week for their lunchtime crowds, and in their lofts I developed my stamina and creativity. Nothing like a crowd that is totally oblivious to what you’re doing to help you “stretch” your musical boundaries. With Potbelly providing an income foundation I began putting together acoustic cover gigs around DC as well as VA, MD, PA and NYC. I had Jay Thomas (“Baby Jake”) on harp for a lot of them. Other sidemen include Mike Rychlik (“Just Mike” of the Kilgore Trout Memorial Orchestra) and Jim Gilliam (“Just Jim” of The Lonesome No More Ensemble). I also began teaching guitar to supplement my income as a full time musician. I started teaching at the Capitol Hill Arts Workshop and then put an ad on Craigslist. After two years I was turning students away. I love my students; I may love Craig more.

Love is good…note to self…for someone who has been surrounded by it all his life and currently enjoys a surfeit of it, I should have an even better attitude…what me worry? What a long, strange trip it’s been…I wish you love…now go buy my CD! Peace, David.