Full circle at the Straightaway

By Mark Vanderhoff, Staff Writer
Black Mountain News
Thursday, March 4, 2010, Page B3

By many measures of success, Dave Turner had a good thing going as an advertising copywriter in Atlanta.

"I'd be a lot wealthier if I hadn't decided to return to the Asheville area and pursue my dream," he said.

But dreams are hard to shake, especially when they involve music. Turner still works as a freelance copywriter, carrying his laptop with him to telecommute while on tour, but he's also a pianist singer-songwriter who has cut two albums and has been touring as far away as New York City.

He plays regularly at the Straightaway Cafe, where he'll perform at 6 p.m. Saturday, and he's joining other local musicans at the second Help Haiti Heal benefit March 13 at the White Horse Black Mountain.

On a music scene rich with acoustic roots and guitar-driven rock, Turner stands out as a solo pianist.

He's come a long way from playing in his house as a teenager, growing up on Riceville Road at the edge of Swannanoa and Asheville, and listening to Elton John, Tom Waits and the Beatles.

He saw musicians like David Wilcox at the Town Pump when it was called McDibb's, and he briefly attended Owen High School before transferring to Asheville High, from where he graduated in 1980. He worked in Atlanta for 13 years before moving back to the mountains with his wife and three children.

And now here he is, watching his eldest child get ready to leave the nest, preparing to record his third album, and getting ready to drive to Dallas for a string of gigs in the oil town and several points between.

The songs for his next album are written, and now he's formulating the instrumentation.

"I really want to try to push the creative envelope with this album," he said. "I have these Appalachian roots, but as a pianist, I don't have the instrument that connects me with Appalachia in most people's eyes. Maybe there's a way for me to do that. I've always been a fan of acoustic instruments. If I can feature those kinds of instruments, maybe I can connect with my Appalachian roots."

Turner has been speaking with banjo player Kevin Scanlon, another Straightaway regular who's played for several Asheville musicians and bands. In the past, Turner has recruited members of Stephanie's Id and Floating Action to provide a backup band.

He also values stripping down the music.

"The songs have a different vehicle being played solo versus with a band," he said. "Sometimes I think the storytelling aspect comes through more effectively when played solo. It's more laid back. You can talk about the story before you play it, frame it differently."

1 comment

  • debra m.

    debra m.

    Nice article! :D

    Nice article! biggrin

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