See David Cousar at the Memphis Music @ SXSW Day party and the Six Degrees of Memphis day Party (3/20 at Shangrila).
There are thousands of artists today clamoring for space on internet blogs, constantly posting youtube videos, desperate to reach out to music lovers and grab their attention. This works for many of them, but there are other musicians, like David Cousar, who remain truly underground, virtually hidden. An artist who has shunned the personal spotlight, he has avoided notoriety not out of ignorance or lack of ambition, but out of a desire to continually grow and craft a body of work.
At heart Cousar is a raconteur, and like any good storyteller, his material often dramatically shifts structures during live performances. Equally comfortable with acoustic and electric guitar, he will seem to fearlessly direct a song in a new direction upon a sudden whim. Over the last few years he has kept a weekly residency at the Buccaneer Lounge in midtown Memphis, a bar known for booking eclectic acts (boogaloo/soul one night, punk the next). The atmosphere there sparked something and became a big part of how Cousar allowed his songs to progress. “They are constantly evolving,” he says thoughtfully, “….virtually everything seems unfinished because I never play the song the same way. Sometimes I will change the key just to make it sing differently.”
A roamer by nature, David has lived a lifetime full of lifetimes. Over the course of the years he played and toured around the globe with artists from Jim Dickinson to Rufus and Carla Thomas, studied classical guitar theory, and recorded with the likes of Al Green, Willie Mitchell, and Memphis chanteuse Susan Marshall (backing vocalist for Cat Power’s The Greatest). In addition to his regular gigs at “The Buc,” he can occasionally be spotted playing with Marshall, Star and Micey (Ardent Records), and his friends in Lucero. Each of these experiences added a rich subtext to the way he hears music in general, especially his own. “I played with in lots of different formats, as a journeyman guitarist…. but playing solo allows me to explore the guitar in a different way…. I like so many different kinds of music from chamber music, prepared guitar music to rootsy to beautiful pop songs.”
Recently signed to Archer Records in Memphis, Cousar spent a few weeks last fall putting his debut album on tape at their midtown studio. The yet-to-be-titled record is a vibrant and stunningly textured journey that charges through a series outstanding new works. With a deep vocal delivery often compared to Nick Cave and Tom Waits, Cousar’s rough growl commands attention, whether inhabiting wailing psychedelic rock or over hushed and haunting finger-picked melodies. In addition to the original compositions, Cousar also breathes new life into songs like Lee Hazelwood’s “Some Velvet Morning”, with labelmate Amy LaVere guesting on the ghostly duet. Be looking for the album later this spring or early this summer from Archer.