David Earl – Asheville’s Swamp Gospel King Goes Romantic

David Earl

Photos and writing courtesy of AskAsheville Music Correspondent Robert Forte.

David Earl sat down with AskAsheville.com to discuss his personal Asheville story, the many faces of his band the Plowshares as well his soon-to-be-released solo acoustic EP, Worth The Trouble.

David Earl is in some ways exactly what you would expect in terms of being an Asheville based musician; unassuming, amiable, astute and beyond incredibly talented.

Yet what struck me more about Earl was his honesty regarding his musical past and present, his unending gratitude and respect for the musicians he’s shared the stage with and his sheer merriment at being able to record and play live music in Asheville.

Like many current denizens of the city Earl, originally hailing from Indianapolis, was called by the siren that is Asheville over twenty years ago.

“I was drawn by the beauty of the mountains, how wonderful the people were and of course the music scene,” explained Earl.

“When I got to Asheville everyone was making music. Whereas where I was from and the other places that I’ve lived you’d go out for drinks but you’d never sing a song with anyone or pass the time creatively with others.”

Earl quickly embraced all things Asheville, including the arts as he’s a self taught metal worker, furniture designer and fabricator who owns and operates locally based Dynamic Metalwork.

The fusing of arts and music is common theme in this region of Western North Carolina and Earl readily admitted, “I don’t know if I would be in a band and doing metal work if I didn’t move to and choose to live in Asheville.”

Earl’s musical odyssey in Asheville first began as his being the token white guy singing gospel in the David and Kuumba Band.

Cracking a grin Earl provided some insight into this period time, “I took pride in being the only white guy in all black spiritual soul band that rocked the house and I had some transcendental moments with that band.”

Eventually the David and Kuumba Band gave way to the Plowshares which in their first incarnation consisted of Earl himself, parade drummer Imhotep and cornucopia of local musicians that rotated consistently in and out of the band.

In 2008 David Earl and The Plowshares released the very well received self-proclaimed swamp gospel EP, Local Anesthesia. 

Despite the positive reception it wouldn’t be long after the EP’s release that David Earl and the Plowshares would go into hibernation.

Earl explained, “When Local Anesthesia came out Imohtep and I had been playing together for a long time and I had a tremendous amount of respect for him.”

“I was writing original songs and I was beginning to feel a bit chained in. What really ended up happening though is I had a baby, which turned out to be the beginning of the new beginning.”

When the Plowshares reemerged from their slumber Earl found himself now backed by three of Asheville’s most well respected and accomplished musicians in bassist Matthew Lane, drummer Christopher Chappell Pyle and lead guitar player Silas Durocher.

“Chris is probably the cat I’ve played with the most. I actually met him through doing my metal work. You pretty much have to assume he was born playing the drums out of the womb.”

For those not in the know Chappell Pyle is the son of Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee and drummer for Lynyrd Skynyrd.

Earl calls bassist Matthew Lane The Plowshares secret weapon.  With a look in his eyes similar to that of a proud father Earl goes on to state, “Matt brings so much to the table and it’s a beautiful thing to have a guy like him that has so much to contribute and that just loves to play music.”

Although Durocher plays on the nine-song album that has yet to be mixed and mastered and that was recorded at the Eagle Room in Weaverville, he has since left the band to start groove based rock and funk outfit, The Get Right Band.

Thus when playing out live these days The Plowshares enlist a variety of locally based lead guitarists that regularly includes the crowd pleasing and bombastic talents of Andrew Scotchie of Andrew Scotchie and the River Rats fame.

This upcoming Saturday August 15th Earl will be celebrating his birthday along with the release of his first solo acoustic EP, Worth The Trouble.

Being a solo effort I assumed that the songs and the sound of the EP would likely be somewhat divergent from anything the Plowshares have turned out to date.

When asked about the songs on the forthcoming EP Earl paused for a moment, collected his thoughts and while trying to clearly hold back from laughing answered, “The songwriting for Worth The Trouble is more sophisticated and more romantic but don’t tell anyone I said that.”

“These are songs that I felt maybe weren’t right for the Plowshares but they were still great songs that just needed a different approach.”

“I guess the songs are really a bit more balladry, thought provoking, intellectual and ultimately more lyric driven.”

Earl, who is the only performer on the album, recorded the EP at his home where he enlisted the talents of local song writer, singer, producer, engineer, keys player and all around musical guru, Lenny Pettinelli.

David Earl continues to invigorate Asheville with his unique brand of art while also inspiring throngs of locals and tourists alike to get their asses out their chairs and to join him on the dance floor to celebrate life, music and the pursuit of happiness.

Come be a part of the jubilation at the Millroom at the Asheville Brewing Company this Saturday August 15th at 9:00 PM for the Worth The Trouble CD Release party.

  • David Earl will be doing a solo acoustic performance that will include tracks of the five-song EP. The Plowshares will be joined by special guests Lenny Pettinelli (keys) and Andrew Scotchie of the River Rats (guitar) who will also be performing a solo set at the event.

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