If there’s anything possibly better than going to a good concert it’s going to a pub and discovering there’s one happening by accident. John Harrison did just that in Bad Godesberg this week when his thirst for a pint took him to Em Knollestüffje and the talented Dave Goodman.
I was just popping out in search of a quick lenten alchohol free wheat beer with Steve Perry when we chanced upon a small welcoming local pub. There was a surprise in store, “There’s some live music on here tonight”, says Steve and sure enough there was, “A fellow Canadian” he added, as if an afterthought. Dave Goodman turned out to be his name.
If you’ve ever heard Dave Goodman play the guitar, it certainly has nothing to do with afterthoughts. We were treated to one of the best renderings of Robert Johnson’s “Come on in my kitchen” that I’ve ever heard, and I’ve heard a fair few. He started off by asking the audience if they would prefer some of his Blues or his Celtic material, so I presumed correctly as it turned out, that we were in in for a treat, and sure enough we were. Dave’s limited edition Yamaha AC4K, which appears to be his guitar of choice, tuned to open G, comes to life as he slides the bottle neck over the strings in a way that Robert Johnson himself would have approved.As the evening progressed if you imagine something like Davey Graham meets Michael Chapman meets Martin Simpson via Bert Jansch, then you’ll have some idea where Dave Goodman is at.
He dedicates one of his own compositions, a song written about an old friend of his and also played with a bottleneck, somewhat tongue in cheek to Dieter Bohlen.who is German TV’s equivalent to the UK & USA’s TV’s Simon Cowell. Dave Goodman actually appeared last year in Germany’s Supertalent 2013 and I think Dieter Bohlen and the rest of the panel were genuinely pleasantly surprised to have some real super talent to appraise for a change.There is certainly a gaping chasm of difference between someone of mediocre talent, over greedy for instant overnight success covering someone else’s already famous song, to someone of genuine talent who has hand crafted a song themselves and spent years on the road paying their dues and honing a song to their own personal perfection in terms of their own vocal and musical performance. I am not a great fan of overblown TV talent shows promising overnight fame but I am now a fan of Dave Goodman’s guitar skills and his songwriting and singing talents shown so well in songs such as “For Jimmy”.It somehow re-instates one’s faith in human nature and social justice, and good unpretentious live music.
To move from an open G tuning, so well suited to bottleneck Blues style, to DADGAD tuning you only have to tune the 5th string back up 2 semitones and the 2nd string down 2 semitones but the difference in sound is phenomenal and the guitar literally sounds like a completely different instrument and so well suited now to playing Celtic style music. It is no wonder that a new generation of guitarist singer/songwriters, like Sarah McQuaid and Simon Kempston are using DADGAD tuning almost exclusively to allow them to write new songs whilst allowing a traditional Celtic backdrop to them.. Dave shows tonight that he certainly knows his way around the fretboard equally well in this tuning.
A smile comes to my face as he changes guitar to the new Yamaha “F” series.which is a pure acoustic series and does not have a jack socket to plug it in. Not a problem for Dave, and he gives us a wonderful swinging blues interspersed with jazz chords which hail back from his early days as a jazz guitarist and he follows by giving us a unique unplugged version of Jimi Hendrix’s “The wind cries Mary”, this time all in standard tuning.
We are not yet out of the unusual guitar tuning woods yet and after Dave has played a cover of Bob Dylan’s “Not Dark Yet” I was a little lost, but it was one of Dave’s own tunings which he just calls his “Not Dark Yet” tuning where he partially capoes the first five strings only of an open G tuning on the second fret and then tunes the sixth string right down to a very low uncapoed A thus giving AAEAC#E which allowed for some wonderful rich bass chords.
We were treated to a first public premiere of Dave’s own song “For my brother” and also “She’s gone” which will be on his new CD. For a well deserved encore Dave puts on a smaller Yamaha APX black cutaway semi-acoustic and presents us with one of his own songs which he hasn’t aired in a while, “Hypnotised” a song which he declares feels like I wrote “a million years ago”. If that be the case, it is a song which has certainly weathered the realms of time well and you can find a version of it, with its catchy melody on YouTube, where he is very adequately accompanied by the excellent British Blues harp player Steve Baker. Dave goes walk about and takes this guitar outside with him so that the people sitting smoking out on the terrace can also experience some live music. As he returns into the room one can clearly see the €1199 price tag on the top of the fretboard on this one!.
In case you were wondering, and Steve Perry certainly was, and thought we’d inadvertently stumbled into a guitar auction when he first saw all the guitars lined up at the back of the stage, Don’t worry Dave Goodman hasn’t gone down with a case of the Joe Bonamassas and felt a compelling urge to change his guitar after each song. The evening was actually presented by Yamaha acoustic guitars in combination with Bill Baum’s music shop in the Plittersdorferstrasse in Bad Godesberg where all the guitars I have mentioned are available for perusal and purchase. I can confirm they are excellent guitars, although I certainly can’t promise that you’ll be able to play them as well as Dave Goodman can! The second guitar I ever owned was a Yamaha acoustic jumbo guitar, which I bought for a little over thirty pounds, which was a lot of money in those days, and it was at least 20 times better than the seven string Russian acoustic guitar that I’d bought in Moscow for one pound nineteen and nine pence a few years earlier.
Many thanks to Yamaha and Baums Musikladen for putting on a rare evening of truly astounding guitar virtuoso for a few very fortunate people who were there to enjoy it. A great thanks to Dave Goodman and you’re more than welcome to take one of the new Yamaha F series guitars for a walk around Folk Club Bonn on the first Friday of any month Dave!
Try and catch him live and you won’t be disappointed, and if you catch him with Steve Baker on harp you’ll be in for a double treat.