Indigo Roots, the journey...
Professor Dave counts his South Carolina roots and the time he has lived in Africa as instrumental to his music and art. In The Gambia, west Africa, indigo dye is a frequent part of the textile landscape. and is often used with the rust/brown colors of kola nut dye. Side by side, Dave has always been at his best playing with talented artists and musicians. Here is a bit of bio...
South Carolina (since 2006)
Dave "Professor" McCurry has been playing harp for close to 50 years, and has had the good fortune and pleasure of performing and recording with musicians like Slick Aguilar of Jefferson Starship fame, original "Asbury Park Sound" (Jaywalkers, Spotlights) sax man John "Cos" Consoli, J. Michael King, Nashville singer/songwriter Sam Cooper, political folk singer/songwriter Tom Neilson, and former Translator and Dead Kennedy's backup SF Bay drummer, Dave Scheff and many more. Professor Dave plays a wide range of harmonica styles and instruments, from acoustic delta and Piedmont blues, country to amplified Chicago blues, R&B and rock to chromatic jazz. A Charleston, SC native, Dave has lived and worked all over the US and over 9 years in Africa.
"I started off as a 1st chair, 2nd cornet player in middle school, where I learned harmony and as a teen in the early 70s transitioned to harp, practicing to recordings by Lee Oskar of War, Corky Siegel (Siegel-Schwall Band), Little Walter, Paul Butterfield and Charlie Musselwhite. And then in college, I heard Toots. Game over."
Bob "Buck" Buckingham
In the 1960’s Bob played coffeehouses as a solo act and later with harp player Bill Wolfe. He and Bill also had a Chicago style blues band for a while until the draft sucked up musicians like a vacuum cleaner. While in the military, Bob played at every opportunity learning banjo and starting a flirtation with the fiddle. His interest prevailed even when he spent some years playing bluegrass. During this time he befriended the late Moses Rascoe, a blues singer who was very much in the mold of Big Bill Broonzy. Bob played harp for him for a couple of years, until Moses went full time when he retired. In the past twenty years Bob has played a combination of old time and blues, but now can zero in on his love the blues in the Piedmont and early urban styles.
Phil Garrett was Dave's main playing partner from 2008 to 2017 while performing as Blue Studio and with the Fine Art Ramblers. Phil's 1916 Gibson A style mandolin was a great companion to the tin pan alley and early jazz preferences in musical choices. Phil's repertoire includes jazz standards and indulged my love of classic, straight-ahead jazz harmonica. Phil moved to Santa Fe and has recently returned to SC. We'll see what springs forth.
J. Michael King is the 2018 recipient of South Carolina's Jean Laney Harris Folk Heritage Award and a pretty decent guy to boot. Dave has been luck to play with Michael a number of times while in Greenville. Michael is a student and master of the Piedmont blues style, a mandatory book of study for musicians in this part of the country.
New Jersey (1998-2006)
For a couple of summers, while living in New Jersey from 1998 to 2006, Dave was fortunate to play in some pick up groups with Sam Cooper and Jefferson Starship guitarist Mark "Slick" Aguilar. Slick's fiery and competent guitar is rooted in his Florida history, playing disco clubs in the Miami area before migrating to the greater SF bay area musical tribe. When on hiatus from touring or family visits to the Jersey shore, Slick performed with local musicians at places like Donovan's Reef, or the Tiki Bar in Highlands. Through mutual friend Sam Cooper (see below), Dave played in a trio with Slick or with the group Phatman.
Sam "Jericat" Cooper showed up as a neighbor and friend during the NJ years and a couple years after Dave moved to South Carolina, Sam gave up his day job and moved to Nashville where he has written and produced great songs in the business while being the solid host of several new songwriter showcase venues on Music Row and the greater Nashville area. During the NJ years, Sam introduced Dave to the Jersey Shore sound and history. and the great musicians and venues like The Fast Lane, Stone Pony and The Saint. Also a Phatman alum was...
John "Cos" Consoli. Inventor of the Consoli Ramplig saxaophone ligature and one of the founding contributors to the "Asbury Park Sound." Dave got to hang in the horn section while playing with Sam and Slick and gained his PhD in professional musicianship with Cos as a mentor and fellow side man. Oh, the stories he told, on the road with Aretha, the early years of Asbury Park and the shore. R.I.P. Cos.
Ray Bassi, a talented keyboardist, jazz player and teacher, and Professor Dave played with Chad Dell around the Jersey Shore as "Half Note Away," playing jazz covers and original tunes. Ray studied briefly with Bill Evans while at N. Texas University and later at Berkeley.
Gary Radford and The Professors. Monmouth University colleague Chad Dell introduced Dave to The Professors, a long-standing eclectic music performance project of Gary Radford, Bill Kubey and others. Dave is proud to be an alumn of The Professors. "I enjoyed our monthly practice sessions as much as our performances, at one of several different rented practice studios in the north Jersey and shore area." Some great original tunes.
Amherst, Massachusetts, Malawi, and Namibia (1984-1995)
During the decade from 1984 to 1994, Professor Dave played with political folk singer songwriter Tom Neilson and good friend and colleague Mark Lynd, calling themselves "3 Ply Bias." Mark and Dave also played together in a group of expatriates while in Namibia, Africa as "The Flying Hippos"
In Malawi, Professor Dave worked at Chancellor College, University of Namibia in Zomba and befriended Dr. Mitch Strumpf. Mitch was not only an accomplished teacher and clarinetist among other instruments but also a world renowned ethnomusicologist, having worked and published with Dr. Gerhard Kubik. Mitch's "around the world in folk music" lecture was one of the most mind-blowing experiences in a lifetime of such events. With short recorded examples, many from his own personal recording library, Mitch linked the sound and feel of folk music traditions as they overlap geographically around the globe. Mongolian folk music to eastern European modalities. West African balafon traditional songs and instruments directly linked through Arabic trade routes to Gamelan traditional music in Indonesia. Islamic and Arabic influences in north Africa to Spanish minor modalities to Romany songs and jazz, and, of course, African musical traditions to the diaspora in the Caribbean and eventually, N. American blues and jazz. See, it's all one world in music. And a funny small world story thing about that Gamelan/balafon link; years earlier, while in the Peace Corps in The Gambia, Dave met a grad student working on her dissertation, Lynn Jessup. Guess who Lynn's mentor was? Yep, Mitch Strumpf.
Santa Cruz, California (1976-1980)
In college, first at University of California San Diego, then at UC Santa Cruz around 1976-1980, Dave's personal playing to amuse himself turned into an invitation to play with fellow students and music majors Phil Delancie (cousin to actor John de Lancie of Star Trek "Q" fame) and Chris French, Ian Stewart, John Halley and off-campus guitarist Don Vantricht who had played with prominent Santa Cruz area Grateful Dead cover band "Promised Land." Together, they formed the band "Sweet Release" (among other names) and played at outdoor parties, local bars and events, and opened for Tower of Power at the Spring Fling festival in 1978.
It all started in high school when Dave bought his first Hohner Marine Band at Geotz Bros. Music in Redwood City, CA and he started playing with guitarists at local parties and mostly just by himself or along with records while mom, dad and big brother were at church on Sunday mornings.
Dave mostly plays Seydel, Hohner, and Suzuki harmonicas. Diatonics are usually Hohner Special 20s, Seydel Session Steel, or Seydel 1848 models out of the box. Chromatic models are a Hohner Super 64X, Super 64, and Suzuki G48W Gregoire Maret signature model.
He uses the ever-so-convenient Yamaha THR10C (discontinued) modeling amp with custom programs for tube amp modeling to clean acoustic sounds, and a custom modified 32 watt 1955 KN3032 Allied Radio/Knight PA amp, labeled "The Dark Knight" built by Dale Laslie of Megatone Amps in Greensboro, NC.
Dave's microphones are primarily a 1964 vintage Shure PE585V Unisphere model for jazz and acoustic work and mid-fifties Shure 707AB shell fitted with 1954 CR Shure element, and a Ronette GS210 body from the early 60s with a Shure CR 1954 element. Dave uses Tone Defender custom harmonica mic cables from Harmonica Planet.
Dave has also started playing lap steel guitar, currently a 1938 Gibson EH-100, a Rogue RLS-1 with after-market Seymour-Duncan pickup and pick guard with electronics, and a 1950s era Beltone Hawaiian steel guitar. Also, a self-designed custom lap steel, called "Bonita," with Duesenberg bender bridge, Seymour-Duncan Antiquity bridge humbucker and Lollar Chicago Steel neck single coil pickups is under construction with artiste/and sometimes luthier, Jim Campbell.
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