Interview: David Starr

“I was 10 years old and my older brother started taking guitar lessons,” recalls Colorado-based industry veteran David Starr. “Like a lot of kids, I saw The Beatles on Ed Sullivan; for a lot of people that was a life-changing thing. They were a unit, a cohesive group that did this thing. I thought, ‘Well, I’ve got friends, we could get together and do that,’” he laughs. “As a solitary personality, it served me well to sit in my room, listen to records, and play drums, over and over again until I had it figured out.”

The time-tested troubadour with the silky-smooth style released his latest album, The Head And Heart, in April; Starr collaborated with the iconic John Oates, who produced the album. “John brings his vast experience to everything; I grew up as a drummer, so guitar is a second language for me in some ways. I’m a reasonably good guitar player, but he’s a really good guitar player,” he says. “He comes to the table with a vocabulary I don’t have. He has an amazing amount of creative energy, of energy in general. I admire that, I thrive in that kind of environment, and I like that kind of work ethic. To me, being around that is nurturing and beneficial. I groove on it,” continues Starr. “He took the songs I had and added subtle things, and some not-so-subtle things, and made a better record as a result. He picked the players on the record, some I knew, some I didn’t. We all spoke the same language, and technical differences aside, we all wanted to get to the same place at the end of the song where we could say, ‘Yeah, that was good.’ I think It turned out great.”

The album houses six songs, one of which is a reimagining of The Mamas and The Papas’ folk rock hit “California Dreamin’.” This self-described “solitary personality” who will make his first AmericanaFest showcase appearance this fall, derives much inspiration from the natural beauty of his Colorado home, which sits at 7,500 feet in elevation with 60 miles of visibility in three directions. “You have to be careful as a writer not to live in your head too much. It’s a good idea to open your eyes and look out at the mountains every so often,” he says. “When I get a little too myopic, it’s a reminder that there’s a great big world out there and that it’s not all about me.”

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