There are few musicians that everyone wants to sound like; generational talents that change everything we thought we know about an instrument, and the limits to which that instrument could be pushed. Houston native, Chris “Daddy” Dave, is one of those generational talents. Known for his unique drum set that is prominently recognized for [frequently] missing toms, but replaced with bongos, a range of snare drums with different tunings, cracked cymbals, and tambourines on his hi-hats, amongst other intricacies. Dave’s unique style has made him one of the most sought-after drummers in music, contributing to an assortment of albums in a range of genres. Everyone from D’Angelo, Kenny Garrett, and Meshell Ndegeocello to Adele, Kim Burrell, Mint Condition, and countless others have called on Dave for his sound and drumming expertise.
After spending the better portion of the past twenty-plus years touring and contributing to other artists projects, Chris Dave has embarked on his own musical journey, allowing fans and listeners alike to hear his voice and sound. Earlier this year, Chris Dave and the Drumhedz, his backing band, released their self-titled album, which is an exploration of the many influences and styles present in Dave’s musical lineage. On Tuesday, September 25, 2018, the Drumhedz, brought their US tour to Philadelphia’s Johnny Brenda’s in support of their new album. I went to the show with friend of the blog and longtime Chris Dave fan, Christopher Johnson. Afterward we chopped it up about the show, finally getting to see our favorite drummer, watching endless hours of YouTube clips, and meeting the man himself after the concert. Here’s our conversation:
Stanley: After years of following Chris Dave, endless YouTube clips, we finally got to see him. What did you think of the show? Did it live up to your expectations?
Christopher: It was roughly nine years ago when my ears were first blessed by the sound of the legendary Chris Dave. I was 16 year old when I listened to the Robert Glasper's Experiment's 'Doubled Booked' album which included classic tracks such as: Festival, Butterfly, and All Matter, to name a few. Upon this discovery, Chris Dave's off-kilter, tambourine-accented, and ultra rhythmic drumming style immediately made a deep impression on my musical senses. Nine years and hundreds of YouTube views later, I finally checked off "experiencing the sound of Chris Dave live" from my music bucket list.
One thing that stuck out to me most was the band's ability to produce a cohesive sound without having a lead keyboardist/pianist.
The show was incredible, it definitely lived up to my expectations. Chris Dave and The Drumhedz provided a very charismatic, out-of-pocket, jazz, soul, and hip-hop fused sound that filled my soul. One thing that stuck out to me most was the band's ability to produce a cohesive sound without having a lead keyboardist or pianist. Instead, the 5-piece band consisted of Chris Dave's drums, Chris Turner's wide-ranging vocals, a lead guitar, bass, and percussion - with Chris Dave steering the ship. (To no surprise, it worked out perfectly.) Each song selection was an experience in itself, often causing me to produce whacky facial expressions or strong head nods, or to just stand stuck trying to comprehend the music - much like my emotions during those late night YouTube sessions back in high school and college. What a show. What an experience.
For those of whom were new to his style, I'm sure their musical ears have since been altered for the better
Stanley: When I go to concerts, I have this weird thing where I have to see how people are responding to the music. That said, I noticed there weren’t many people that seemed deterred by the odd time signatures (which you can't really dance to), or those moments when the guitarist and singer would be in a different key from the rest of the band.
What did you think about the audience's attentiveness/intelligence and the demographics of the room?
Christopher: It's safe to assume that a majority of the audience was familiar with Chris Dave's odd-timing. For those of whom were new to his style, I'm sure their musical ears have since been altered for the better. I liken Chris Dave's music to a fine art piece that can cause you to stand and observe with great awe and appreciation. He's special.
I thoroughly enjoyed moments of the show where the vocalist, Chris Turner, would be singing in a completely different key than the rest of the band. It presented such a unique sequence, causing listeners to focus intently. After surveying the crowd during those moments, it appeared that other onlookers were tickled by the sound and heavily engrossed in what they were experiencing. Everyone became drum heads that night.