When the book is written on the all-time great musical couples, the chapter on David Rawlings and Gillian Welch (or is that Gillian Welch and David Rawlings?) will be one to dog-ear and go back to again and again. In fact, the first couple of Americana discovered they had enough great folk in them that putting it out just as Gillian Welch wasn’t enough, and so Dave Rawlings Machine was born, with the first release (stream it below) back in 2009. Now on his third album, Poor David’s Almanack (stream it below), Rawlings (above, performing “Cumberland Gap” live for KMCP FM) has dropped the Machine from his moniker but has actually grown a full band, featuring some of the genre’s truly best musicians sounding as good as ever. Rawlings’s superlative guitar playing and timeless songs are backed by Willie Watson, Brittany Haas, Paul Kowert and, of course, Welch. The group is back on tour with a stop at Brooklyn Steel on Tuesday, a chance to stomp your feet, hoot and holler, and see a pair of all-timers do their thing. —A. Stein | @Neddyo
Tag Archives: Dave Rawlings Machine
Dave Rawlings Machine – The Bowery Ballroom – June 2, 2010
Dave Rawlings—guitarist, producer and songwriter for artists such as Ryan Adams, Old Crow Medicine Show and his frequent collaborator, Gillian Welch—began the first of a two-show stint at The Bowery Ballroom last night performing as the Dave Rawlings Machine. Though Rawlings has appeared on many different albums in his career, the Dave Rawlings Machine’s recent album, Friend of a Friend, is, surprisingly, the first proper release under his own name, and many of his previous collaborators (including Welch) have come onboard to back him up this time.
“We’re still trying to figure out what the machine does,” said Welch, shortly after taking the stage. “We know that it wears denim,” she said teasingly, giving Rawlings’ wardrobe a once over. Literal meanings aside, the Dave Rawlings Machine’s sound is in line with much of Rawlings’ previous music, with intricate bluegrass guitar melodies, a subtle twang, delicate vocal harmonies and smooth layers of violin softening the edges. Rawlings is an intense, energetic performer, swaying and bouncing with the rhythms of his guitar, tilting its neck up and down as he plucked out intricate solos, and always smiling.
As the band tore through material from Friend of a Friend (“Ruby,” “I Hear Them All,” “Bells of Harlem”), they also incorporated renditions of folk and country classics like “This Land Is Your Land,” “Big Rock Candy Mountain” and “John Henry.” The effortless give and take between the musicians, and especially the proven chemistry between Rawlings and Welch, made for a fluid performance. Given the Dave Rawlings Machine’s musical prowess, it’s tempting to make a bad pun about the band as a “well oiled machine.” Luckily, their lively, timeless style of music deserves much more than an overused pun—and judging by their hearty applause and hollers, last’s nights’ crowd would agree. —Alena Kastin