Behind the mic with David Shepherd in Deal

Born and raised in earshot of West Ham’s Upton Park, David Shepherd has been blessing venues and residents in Deal with his musical talent, amassing quite the following in the process.

 

With some upcoming gigs planned for Deal, we caught up with David to delve into his musical background, some of his greatest inspirations and advice for any up and coming musicians trying to make a name for themselves.

 

Born and raised in Plaistow, David moved down to the coast aged 32 and spoke to us about some of his earliest music memories and his childhood inspirations.

 

“My earliest memories of live music were probably my earliest memories full stop. My grandad had set up a working men’s club in Stratford (The Major Road Community Association), East London, but sadly he passed away when I was only 3 weeks old so I have no memory of him. But I have very vivid memories of it being where our family and extended family would meet most Saturday nights.

“I must have been 2 or 3 years old when I used to set up little empty bottles of Pepsi with cocktail sticks in them and hit them with straws along to the drums, and always used to dance when the band played some classic rock ‘n’ roll tunes. Without a doubt it was this that gave me a passion, albeit subconscious, for live music as I took up the recorder at school and got a Bontempi organ for my 4th birthday.”

 

A far leap from the days of Pepsi bottles and cocktail sticks, David, who has worked behind the scenes as a sound technician with likes of So Solid, Desmond Dekker and Chas ‘n’ Dave, now plays a whole host of well-known cover songs, all solo acoustic, with no loops and no backing tracks; all stripped back to his voice and guitar. This has allowed him to develop a style where he fills various melody, bass lines, and strumming to create a fuller representation of the songs he plays.

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“I don’t work from a set list or take any notes or iPad along. I literally turn up, see what type of crowd is in, and tailor what I play to suit them all off the top of my head with decades of repertoire rolling around in there somewhere.

“I’ve not written any original material for some time, since I’ve been in bands. But had a few albums worth when we were flirting with record companies. My style was social commentary. I was inspired by what was going on around me in typical “angry young man” style. Though I used a lot of humour to highlight some points, I think that’s a working class thing where we laugh at adversity to get through it.”

 

Who are some of your greatest inspirations?

“My greatest inspirations are people I’ve come into contact with and shown me ways of creating music more than actual famous artists. That being said, Chuck Berry was the man that inspired me to pick up a guitar in the first place. In the 90s I saw him perform at the Circus Tavern, a cabaret club in Essex, and I met him after the show, had a chat, got his autograph, and then got home and wondered if that had just really happened. But I still have the autograph to prove it.”

 

What advice would you pass on to up and coming musicians?

“If I could pass on any advice, and I know it’s difficult for younger artists to listen to older people as we come from a different era, but I believe some things stay the same.

“The first bit of advice is that it is possible to make a living from music. You may not be world famous, selling millions of records and filling stadiums. But you can find a viable market to do what you do. After all my day jobs over the years, music has been the only consistent thing that I could rely on to make me money when I needed it. So when my last job at a sound and light company came to an end, I took a punt as a full time performer, and now it’s making me a decent living from just gigging, about 22 gigs a year in fact.”

 

You can get a taste of David’s work at The Eagle Tavern in Deal on 13th May. To stay up to date with any upcoming gigs you can follow David Shepherd on Facebook today.

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