Video Series: smallsongs: David Shaw

Listen & Watch small songs

smallsongs’ is a youtube series brought to you by Americana Highways with small & stripped down performances on the streets of different cities around the world, featuring musical acts at their rawest.

We’ve traveled over 15 states in our ‘smallsongs’ bus from Denver all the way to Brooklyn. Of all these places, we connected the most deeply with New Orleans. At the Bayou St. John near City Park in New Orleans, my wife, baby & I had the honor of meeting up with the great David Shaw of The Revivalists where he played us a couple new tunes off his upcoming debut solo record.

I asked him a few questions for this:

Americana Highways: When did you first start playing music?

David Shaw: I first started playing music around the age of 12. Grunge music was really beginning to take hold of the mainstream and all I wanted to do was learn how to play “Teen Spirit” by Nirvana. My mother got me a little white Kay guitar and a small practice amp and from that day forward the fuse was lit.

AH: What does your songwriting & creative process typically look like?

David Shaw: I like to sit down with an acoustic guitar or more recently I’ll sit down at a piano and begin picking out some chords and then humming a melody over them. During this process some words or phrases usually fall out and guide the process of figuring out what the song wants to be about. I also sometimes start with an instrumental and write the top line melody and words to that. I just love the process of creating, so I take them any way they come.

AH: Who are your artistic & musical influences?

David Shaw: There’s a bit of a revolving door of cast members who come in and out of my life but if I had to just pick a few I’d say Bill Withers, Leonard Cohen and David Bowie. I’ve learned so much about life, love and what a song can be from listening to their music. It’s shaped me in ways that I probably don’t even realize. I’m very grateful for their contributions to the art. I’m not sure I’d be here today doing what I’m doing if it wasn’t for them.

AH: What’s your favorite thing about New Orleans?

David Shaw: My favorite thing about New Orleans is the sense of community and togetherness that comes from and centers around the music and the culture of the city. Everything here is built upon this and the feelings that come from it. It’s truly unique and very special.

AH: When and why did you decide to make the move to put out solo material?

David Shaw: It’s always been something that I wanted to do but I never quite new when I was going to do it, but a few years ago it became clear to me once I began to put more of an emphasis on self care that this was what I needed to do grow in ways that a band culture doesn’t necessarily foster. This entire process was all about learning and growing and that’s exactly what’s been happening. I’m excited to take all this new growth and apply it to my work in The Revivalists as well. It’s a win win for everyone!

AH: What all can we expect from you in the coming year?

David Shaw: Well hopefully once the world opens back up and it’s safe to tour, there will be some live shows happening. I can’t wait to get out there and play these songs for all of my beloved people. That’s what I’m most excited about.

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