Alejandro Escovedo used to call him the Sensitive Boy - more than the lead guitarist in his band, but his right hand man in many ways. Now, David Pulkingham is branching out on his own, singing his own songs, and of course playing the guitar, better than just about anyone. Indie Sounds got the scoop on the solo move and what's next.
Indie Sounds: After quite a few years playing with Alejandro Escovedo, you've decided to do your own thing. That's a pretty big move, so why did you make it?
David Pulkingham: I first played with Alejandro in 2000. My first gig with him was a taping of Austin City Limits. For the last seven years, I have been on just about every gig he has played ... up until last month.
I started doing some solo shows in the last year and a half and found them to be very rewarding. I feel like I am growing ... it feels like a necessary evolution to take the responsibility on my own shoulders of writing, booking, performing ... the whole thing. So to that end I have booked some tours in the last year and in the upcoming year, and unfortunately they have interfered - and will more - with Alejandro's very full schedule. He, of course, needs someone constant. I need to do what feels right for my future. That is why we are currently not playing together anymore. I hope that in the future we can play again. We have a very special relationship both musically and otherwise.
IS: So what is your own thing? Are you going to be focused on performing in Austin, or are you planning on shows further afield? Concentrating on your own songs, playing with others?
David: My own thing is a little bit ADD. I love to play lots of styles ... latin, gospel, ragtime, Americana. Some gigs I play are strictly instrumental. I have a passion for taking songs and making arrangements of them for solo guitar. Some gigs are more singer/songwriter oriented ... I love to sing as well ... so I do a mix of originals, covers with some instrumentals thrown in. I play shows in Austin and have been playing shows in Europe as well. I've done two tours there in the last year and will return this summer.
IS: You put out an album last year called David Pulkingham Plays Guitar. Tell us about it, and what can we expect from the next one?
David: David Pulkingham Plays Guitar is a CD I made a year ago. It is a compilation of instrumental arrangements that I have made of some of my favorite melodies. I recorded it at the Churchhouse Studio in Austin, so it is just me, live, in a big beautiful church room with really good mics. I am proud of it. Although none of it is original compositionally, I took great care and time in making the arrangements. It was a very rewarding experience. The Churchhouse is a great place to record as well.
Download David Pulkingham Plays Guitar at iTunes.
The next album I have jokingly said will be called David Pulkingham Plays Guitar And Sings. I have been writing originals for the last couple of years and doing some co-writing with an author named Daniel Wolff. I feel that I have a good batch of songs ... I am in the process now of playing them out live ... kicking their tires as it were. I plan to record in the fall ... stat tuned!
IS: To backtrack, what's your life and musical history?
David: I am the 6th child of an Episcopal priest and a church musician. Dad and Mom respectively. I also grew up communally, in a movement called the Charismatic Renewal. The community was called the Community of Celebration. It's main industry was music. There was a band called the Fisherfolk, which toured internationally and recorded forty odd albums in their time. I had my first song published at age four and was on my first recording at age seven. I studied voice, piano and flute as a child. I was surrounded by music and worship. Guitar was my instrument of rebellion ... the one that no one could tell me what to do on. It stayed that way until I was twenty, and realized that I really kind of sucked. I knew that I wanted to play guitar for the rest of my life however. This prompted me to study very intensely.
I got a degree in Jazz Performance from the University of North Texas and moved to Austin. After getting here, I quickly realized that I didn't want to be a professional Jazz musician. My tastes are too far flung to be happy only playing one style. I became very involved in Latin music ... the music of Brazil and Cuba in particular. I played in a number of salsa and world music bands and had a blast making people dance every night for many years. Alejandro heard there was a white dude who could play like a Latino ... and he needed someone who could play nylon string guitar, a style called Trio music. That's why he called me up initially. It wasn't until working with Al that I began to play rock and roll.
IS: What's the thing you are going to miss most about playing with Al. And what are you going to miss least?
David: I am going to miss a lot of things about playing with Al. The level of performance, audience and songwriting are pretty much unparalleled ... anywhere. I'm going to miss laughing at everyday absurdities with him. I'm not going to miss feeling that I don't have much control over my life, schedule wise. That is the only thing I will not miss.
IS: And what's the big life ambition or project that you're now working on?
David: The next big thing is working on writing songs, being a better songwriter. Working on being a better guitar player and performer. Seeing what the next year holds for me, and the lifelong project of trying to be a better person all around. I feel very excited, the horizon feels wide open and I can't wait to see what happens next!