Band: David Shivers Album Release Party
Date: Friday, Aug. 11, 7 p.m.
Venue: Callaghan’s Irish Social Club, 916 Charleston St., www.callaghansirishsocialclub.com
Tickets: Call 251-433-9374 for more info.
On Aug. 11, David Shivers will celebrate his 17th birthday at Callaghan’s, with a live performance and release of his solo debut, “The Flood.” Younger than many of his local music peers, Shivers has created an album that radiates poignant honesty and a musical prowess even seasoned songsmiths are unable to capture.
Shivers’ lifelong musical passion is a romance kindled by his fascination as a 6-year-old with the classic rock his parents loved, especially Led Zeppelin.
“It was so original and out there, not in a bad way,” Shivers said of his influences. “You don’t hear music like that these days, that catches your ear. When you see Jimmy Page from Led Zeppelin playing on stage, hearing all that blows your mind, especially when you’re 6 years old.”
His love for classic rock evolved into an interest in the guitar. When he was 12, Shivers came under the tutelage of guitar teacher Patrick Imsand, an instructor at the University of South Alabama. Imsand introduced Shivers to not only technique and theory but also the world of classical guitar.
While the classical guitar style opposed the young musician’s organic blues rock style, Shivers flourished under Imsand. In fact, his talent on the strings reached the halls of William Carey College, where he was offered a music scholarship. The dean of William Carey’s music department at the time was shocked to discover the then 14-year-old’s talent.
“Making a blues guitar player move into classical music might seem like a sin in the guitar world, but it really opened me up to the different possibilities and different things that you can do with the guitar and the different ways that you could musically express yourself with the guitar,” Shivers said.
Shivers also began to pen original songs during his preteen years, with a more task-based approached than a natural one. He says it was a challenging exercise that began with him saying, “I’m going to write a song.” Shivers says the following hours were filled with the frustration of brainstorming lyrics and arrangements. These days, Shivers’ songwriting is more natural, and its challenges more welcome.
“Now, I’ll get a lyric idea in my head for a full song, but I just won’t have the pieces to complete it,” Shivers said. “It’s all about finding those pieces and putting them together. It’s like a puzzle.”
“The Flood” is a collection of Shivers’ completed musical puzzles. This album is a personal release on more than a musical level. After his first studio experience at 13, Shivers decided to compile his own collection of gear and build a personal studio. Not only did he record and mix the album there, he also took on mastering duties. The end result reflects a production quality on par with many professional studios.
Shivers says recording in-house allowed him to work in a stress-free, low-cost environment. Even though he found it relaxing, he encountered moments of frustration because of his commitment to creating a high-quality album.
“I complained to my parents about doing all the work, but you kind of have to do it,” Shivers said. “My album is like my little baby. I had to take care of it and do everything that I could do to put it out there. It takes up a lot of time, but that’s what I’m dedicated to.”
As far as the instrumental tracks on “The Flood,” Shivers was responsible for the keyboards and guitar tracks “with the help of a couple of friends.” He tapped his uncle Zal Chitty to lay down bass tracks.
Shivers also tapped a notable Azalea City percussionist to handle the album’s drum track. Sam Gaston’s impeccable talents have been used in a variety of musical environments, ranging from metal to experimental jazz. Even though Shivers admits his lack of proficiency on drums, he still had a major role in the rhythms that drive “The Flood.”
“I’m not very good on the drums,” Shivers explained. “[Gaston] did every bit of it. I still wrote all the drum parts, and he went in there and followed my lead.”
As a finished product, “The Flood” is filled with beautifully arranged songs reflecting Shivers’ early maturity as a songwriter. Even though all of the songs pull from real-life experiences, he says he made an effort to write each song from a third-person perspective to make them relatable for all his listeners.
Soulful blues vocals and sensual guitar highlight “Sweet Diane.” While he cites his current girlfriend, Erin, as inspiration, he composed this song in a way that could be universal.
Gentle runs across the acoustic mingle with a smooth slide to deliver the social commentary of “Song of Triumph.”
“I was really upset or distraught with all the global fighting going on in the world and how it feels wrong to join either side,” Shivers said. “It was me saying that you can do what’s right, whether it’s a fight or not. You don’t have to pick a side and believe what you want to believe and do what you want to do, and it can be your song of triumph.”
Shivers says he is excited to release this album to new listeners, and has been enjoying the positive reaction his songs have been receiving at local performances. Seeing audience members singing along to his music has been a great thrill for the young songwriter. Shivers also hopes “The Flood” will generate new listeners who not only enjoy the music but also appreciate the experiences inspiring his songs.
“I hope everybody can find their favorite song on the album,” Shivers said. “I really want people to give me feedback, and tell me, ‘Man, I really like that song and can relate to it.’ I can’t wait to go out to these gigs with people that I haven’t seen before or contacted me on Facebook. I want to see new fans come along.”