Niles has got the bluesPublished 11:33pm Wednesday, September 14, 2011
Dave Dale was in his early 20s, already playing with the likes of blues legends Junior Wells and James Cotton.
He was living in Chicago, playing his guitar and singing regularly in a family-owned blues club on the north side, fulfilling his dream of making a career out of jazz and blues music.
“I had the opportunity to play behind people easily 40, 50 years older than me,” Dale said. “About eight really famous blues men died in about a five- or six-year period. I got to play with them all before they passed. It was a pretty unique time.”
Dale was certainly establishing himself in the Chicago blues scene.
Then he fell in love.
He met his wife, Eve Kelly, also a gifted musician, when she was his waitress at a Chicago restaurant.
“I don’t want to say it was love at first sight. But we hung out a number of weeks and then decided to get married,” he said.
The decision — Dale considers proposing to her at one of his shows the highlight of his music career — would change his life and music forever.
In order to be closer to her family, they abandoned the Chicago music scene to move to Niles in 2001.
Dale also put his music career on the back burner with the birth of their son.
“I grew up moving all over the place and really had no place to call home,” Dale said. “I really wanted my son to have a place to be connected to.”
He also has avoided extensive touring in order to be able to raise his son well.
Dale will play a solo acoustic set Sunday at Riverfront Park in Niles for the last Sunday summer concert in the park. He will also perform with his wife’s band, Eve Kelly and the Black Snakeroot.
But just because Dale and Kelly aren’t touring doesn’t mean they aren’t making music.
Dale is finishing up a solo project, called “Obsolete,” while their band is working on recording a record as well.
Dale describes “Osbolete” as a “challenge to our disposable culture.” It is being recorded at home with a reel-to-reel machine, some microphones made from telephone parts and a guitar made out of a Volkswagon hubcap. Dale said it creates “an old blues recording feel” with a “scratchy analogue” sound.
“You listen to the these old blues records and there’s something that’s very timeless about having a limited set of resources,” he said.
The Black Snakeroot project is being recorded at a studio on the campus of Western Michigan University. Dale said the record has elements of western swing, jazz and americana with “a very feminine thumb print on it.”
“My wife is a beautiful, elegant vocalist,” he said. “It’s really a fantastic album. I’ve been recording for 20 years. This is by far and away one of the most exciting projects.”
Black Snakeroot will also welcome local legend Billy Nicks, who has played with the likes of Louis Armstrong, Sammy Davis Jr. and The Temptations, to play drums at the show Sunday.
If you go…
Who: Dave Dale and Eve Kelly and Black Snakeroot
Where: Riverfront Park, Niles
When: Sunday, 6 p.m.
More info: www.myspace.com/daveedale