When David Starr returns to Tuft Theatre on Friday, April 8, he’ll have some catching up to do. Since the start of 2020 he’s released two albums, a COVID-era covers project named Touchstones, and an album of originals in collaboration with John Oates called Beauty & Ruin. That album came out very shortly before all the COVID-related closures and restrictions, and he never got to share those songs live with as wide of an audience as he’d have liked.
“I guess part of me will always be slightly bummed that it didn’t get the proper tour that it deserved,” he told us, but, he adds, “We have some special things in the works to give it a second life.”
Add to that new, unreleased songs that David is in the process of recording, and April 8 in Tuft Theatre promises to be a special night of music. Read on to learn more about what David’s been up to these last two years, and what he’s looking forward to in the future.
You kept busy during the deepest days of COVID-related shutdowns by releasing Touchstones, an album of cover songs by some of your favorite artists including Gladys Knight, The Cars, John Prine, and more that you originally released monthly. When did you resume performing in-person for live audiences? How did that feel, and how has it evolved?
I started playing some outdoor performances in the fall of 2020 and then things seemed to pick up again in the spring of 2021. Like so many, I desperately missed connecting with people and playing music for a live audience, we all did what we could but at the end of the day a screen just isn’t the same. I think now I am more grateful than ever before for any opportunity to step onto a stage. It’s truly something I think none of us ever thought would go away, so to be able to play again in rooms safely is such a joy. I feel it, the audience feels it, we are all grateful to be there and that’s a beautiful thing.
Early in 2020 you released a different album, Beauty & Ruin, which is based on the novel written by your grandfather, Fred Starr, named Of What Was, Nothing Is Left. You never really got to tour behind just that album, what do you want people to know about the album?
It is such a special project for me, and I guess part of me will always be slightly bummed that it didn’t get the proper tour that it deserved, but in no means is it finished. We have some special things in the works to give it a second life including a visual element that I’m really excited about. I am in love with the story of it, a southern gothic tragedy set in Arkansas (where I’m originally from), and being able to tell it through music. It’s become a really special part of my live show and I think my Granddad would be proud that it’s living on through song.
You are based in Cedaredge and the proprietor of the music shop Starr’s Guitars. Did the habits of your customers and musicians in Cedaredge change during the COVID times? What did you learn from that?
In the height of it, things definitely changed and I think I learned patience in an entirely new way.
Everyone went at this thing differently, and we had to do what we could to remain safe and also keep the doors open. Most customers were super gracious to be able to walk into a store and purchase a musical instrument and connect, others didn’t want to follow the rules, you learn how to deal with it all. Luckily with the more difficult folks a mask hid some of my facial expressions!
What are you looking forward to in 2022 and beyond?
Dare I say a sense of normalcy? New music. More shows. While the Touchstones project has been really fun to dive into, I am a songwriter at heart and was craving recording originals again. I’ve been working on 6 songs in Nashville that I’m hoping to release this year. I’m also going back over the pond to the UK to tour for the first time since 2019. I love performing over there and those audiences love singer/songwriters. In a weird way it always feels like coming home.
Is there anything you’d like to add?
I love playing Swallow Hill, it is one of my favorite rooms – I’m excited to be back with (Erik?) to really make it a great night for everyone.