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Sunday, April 14, 2024

An Interview with Dave Nachmanoff

Dave Nachmanoff is a busy man. He’s a prolific singer-songwriter, the father of two, with a doctorate in philosophy from UC Davis who also tours with Al Stewart and plays a variety of instruments. In addition he has just released his new album Step Up, nearly five years after his previous release. Despite his busy schedule, Nachmanoff still somehow manages to find time to not only perform at the Whole Earth Festival (WEF) at 11 a.m. on the main stage on May 12 but to also play at Luigi’s on May 10 with Hardwater, a local band. The Aggie caught up with Nachmanoff to learn more about his new CD and upcoming performances.

MUSE: Can you give a quick introduction about yourself?

NACHMANOFF: I am a longtime Davis resident, a UCD alum and a professional musician. Most of my gigs are actually out-of-town, though, so I haven’t been as much a part of the local music scene as I’d like to be. I grew up in Virginia, but moved to London and New York City in my late teens. I had been a big fan of Al Stewart for years and through a mixture of luck and being prepared I became his lead guitarist and touring partner around 2001. I’ve toured as a solo acoustic artist, and have nine CDs out (plus numerous side projects). But I really enjoy playing with a full band, and since my new CD, Step Up, is less folk and more rock/adult-contemporary, I’m starting to do more full-band shows, including the two Davis shows in May.

How many times have you played at the Whole Earth Festival?

This will be my fifth or sixth time over the years. I played a set on the quad stage back in 1997 or 1998 soon after my first CD was released and several times in the years right after that. I’ve played on the kids stage, the acoustic stage, and then for a number of years I didn’t apply for the festival, as I was usually on the road somewhere when it was taking place. This will be the first time back on the quad stage in quite a few years, and I’m really looking forward to it.

Will you be performing with anybody else (because Hardwater is performing with you at Luigi’s)?

This set (as well as the show at Luigi’s) will be a full-band show, with some wonderful musicians who are all longtime friends of mine. The guitarist, Martin Lewis, used to play with me in the late 80’s when we were students at Oxford University and then in New York City. Jeff Simons (bass) is pretty well-known both as one of the owners of Watermelon Music, but also as a phenomenally talented bassist and guitarist who has played with many different artists. The drummer, Graham Roggli, grew up in Davis and brings the average age of the band down considerably (yay Graham). We will also have my good friend Donna Lemongello (a.k.a. the “harmony machine”) joining us for some of the set on vocals. So, it should be a nice big sound.

As an acclaimed songwriter, what’s the most interesting songwriting workshop you’ve ever led?

It’s hard to pick a single example as I’ve been lucky enough to do work with some really diverse groups. One of the most interesting was a center for aphasia patients in New Jersey. Aphasia is a language disorder that is often the result of a stroke or brain injury that renders people unable to speak (and sometimes unable to write as well). With the help of a friend of mine, Bruce Kalter, who regularly volunteers at the center, I led a three-hour workshop in which they wrote not one, but two songs, one of which (“Tip of My Tongue”) was all about what it’s like to have aphasia. It was a very challenging, slow process, but incredibly rewarding.

I’m really grateful for the chance to play at WEF once again and for the great musicians that are coming to join me. There is a ton of stuff on YouTube, and if people want to hear some samples of the music, or read more details about what I do, I’d encourage them to visit my main site, davenach.com. Thanks for helping to spread the word. Go Aggies!

WEF is free for all. The show at Luigi’s will be $10 for adults and free for kids.

MICHELLE RUAN can be reached at arts@theaggie.org.


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