No place like home
Cali country six-slinger Dave Gleason returns to Pasadena after Nashville sojourn, headlines Grand Ole Echo Sunday
By Bliss Bowen 09/27/2012
So many of us have relocated to California from other parts of the world that we take its appeal for granted. Consequently, when a native-born Californian opts to move elsewhere, the response is often one of incredulity.
Such was the case when Dave Gleason, a third-generation California country musician, left LA two years ago for Nashville. Why leave behind LA’s open-minded diversity for Nashville’s buttoned-down conservatism? Last week he and wife Dawn returned, moving into a house in Pasadena. His headlining set at the Grand Ole Echo’s season closer Sunday offers a chance to reconnect with friends and fans who didn’t understand his choice to leave.
“I’d been going out to Nashville about once a year, touring, and I became interested in seeing if there was another level I could get to, and what it’s like to live somewhere else,” Gleason explains. “Nashville seemed like it would be a very good educational tool in my long career. It was wonderful, but I didn’t feel like I exactly fit in there. I had plenty of friends and shows and work, but it was time to come home. It was an awesome two-year run.”
Just before he left, Gleason recorded an album with a band comprised largely of Marty Stuart’s Fabulous Superlatives, with Stuart’s guitarist Kenny Vaughan producing.
“It’s not even mastered yet,” he says. “We were literally finishing that thing up the weekend I was packing up the trailer to move out here. I really lucked out. I met Kenny when we first got to Nashville; we hit it off and he started playing guitar with me around town when he was available. It blew my mind to know those guys as friends and have them record with me.
“I literally sat down with my acoustic guitar just once with those guys, and they made notes and almost every song was a first take — not my vocals or guitar or finishing touches, but bass and drums and rhythm tracks. I’ve never seen anybody work so efficiently. It was like I was in a movie. Jokes and stories about Ray Stevens and Webb Pierce, witty anecdotes, and then straight down to business. We pretty much finished the whole record in six days.”
Gleason will debut a few of those new songs at Sunday’s show, where he’ll reteam with his former Pasadena- and Sierra Madre-based bandmates: Old Californio’s Jason Chesney, Rich Dembowski and Justin Smith, and pedal steel wiz Chris Lawrence. Beyond that, he’s organizing his album’s release and booking gigs at clubs he used to play.
“That’s about it,” he says of his plans. “Just settle in and see what’s changed in the last two years.”
Grand Ole Echo presents Dave Gleason, Rich Mahan & the Cocktail Heroes, Greg Felden, Cliff Wagner & Old #7 at the Echo, 1822 Sunset Blvd., Echo Park, 5:30-9 p.m. Sunday; free admission. Info: (213) 413-8200. dave-gleason.com