Our Friend David
I always love to blog about my incredible friends and the wonderful things they do, but truth be told, I do not do it nearly enough! So today I shall dedicate my blogging endeavors to our dear friend David Shenton, who did something really incredible this week.
Brief background: David is husband of Erin, friend of many moons, and former college roomie at 527 Highland Ave in Bloomington, Indiana. When I first moved to NYC, Erin, along with Andi, Kristin, Tovah and Beth were all upstairs roomies at our place in queens. It was there that Erin met David (who was at that point living in London), fell in love, and thus, he moved here to be with the lovely lady, and pursue his musical endeavors state-side. They were married last October.
In any case, David decided this year to record his first album (being an excellent composer/pianist), called Sunnyside Blues. He went through a company called DiscMakers to get the cd reproduced... and it turned out they have a contest open to independent musicians, which is partially sponsored by Billboard Magazine. The grand prize is $50,000. Sooo, David decided to enter, and after his music was sent through various rounds, found himself one of the 6 finalists up for the prize! On Thursday, he was invited to play alongside 5 other musicians/bands, to compete in the finals in NYC.
All in all, this was a very strange contest. The judges, whom were supposedly "music industry people" (having worked for a major music publisher, I can only imagine what that means these days... failed plumber? Recent business school graduate? Child of retired former music industry persona with nothing better to do?), ranged in age from 18-22. The entire show, the judges sat in the back, getting drunk and paying zero attention to the bands that performed. The winning band, incidentally, Glint - was not a horrible band. In fact, they sounded a lot like most popular bands these days, with hints of early 90's brit-pop (especially the NYC singer with the astoundingly British accent), Interpol repeated-note bass-lines, whiny Robert Smith-like vocals, the Coldplay-ish keyboard figures... Truly astounding the way the managed to sound like every major band from the past 20 years, and yet offer absolutely nothing new. Not to mention the song where they all tried to harmonize with each other, while though a valiant effort, sounded slightly worse than our neighborhood on those spring nights when there's a feral cat around.
This in itself is not too surprising. The fact that no one in that band (or any of the preceding bands) would know what an extended tertian chord was if it crawled up their nose and ate their brain, is nothing less than expected. I think a few of us, knowing David's caliber, were hoping to hear some creative, interesting, beautiful music, since they'd managed to beat out a few thousand other musicians to get there. Somewhere, in the deepest corners of my mind, I'd always had this image of kids like myself, who loved music, who wanted to learn everything they could about it... who would grow and evolve musically, and give back something they'd worked extremely hard for... coming together in a retarded musical utopia that gave people's lives more meaning...
But that would assume the music industry is something other than the vile succubus it is, and I learned that lesson a long time ago. But enough of my pretentious rant! Sorry about that.
So, having now painted the glorious picture of the DiscMakers contest, I'd like to get back to David. Despite knowing what this contest was all about, despite the drunk twenty-somethings sitting around hitting on each other, despite the self-obsessed musicians handing out their free cds and stickers everywhere; David got up, sat at his keyboard, and played the absolute best he could in front of that crowd. David's music is truly representative of him. You hear it, and you can imagine him sitting writing it, thinking about translating Sunnyside into music, and incorporating his favorite things about music and the musicians he's loved as he goes along. As a performer, he was composed, charming as always, and completely engaging. In fact, it was very surreal - as David resolved certain passages, the crowd would roar just like they would at a rock concert after their favorite song, or at a sporting event after a great pass. This funny little NYC crowd was transformed, and people I'd never seen before were standing at the front of the crowd, cheering him on, hanging on every note.
His message came through. And after all, that IS what it's about.
So I'd just like to say congratulations David, for getting up there and showing Billboard Magazine what music is all about. We're so very proud of you!!!