Recorded at Sun Studios, Little Dave’s first EP promises a high voltage mix of rockabilly, blues and a dash of Carl Perkins… By Steve O’Brien
On the day Vintage Rock catches up with Little Dave – try as we might to find out his surname, he’s not going to reveal it – he’s just returned home from seeing the new James Bond film. “I’m a bit late with it,” he laughs. “There’s been a lot of things going on!”
If there were an award for the busiest person in rock’n’roll, then Little Dave would certainly be in the running. A member not just of the rockabilly band Little Dave & The Sun Sessions, but also country outfit The Blue Moon Boys and Gene Vincent tribute act Be Bop A Lula, he’s just released a four-track EP, Little Dave’s Sun Sessions, with another to follow later this year.
You were in bands when you were younger, then stopped to be a full-time dad. What got you back in the rock’n’roll game?
I was a single dad for a long time, but then when my kid grew up, he went off and then, just before COVID hit, I did my bucket list. I went out to Chicago as I wanted to visit all the studios like Chess where Chuck Berry, Howlin’ Wolf and all those sorts of people recorded. Then I flew to Nashville where I visited RCA Studio B and then to Graceland. After that I drove down to Jackson, Tennessee. While I was there I met [founder of the Rock-A-Billy Hall Of Fame] Henry Harrison, who handed me Carl Perkins’ guitar and I played Blue Suede Shoes with him!
You visited Sun Studios on your trip. How was that?
It was great. We drove down to Memphis and stayed there about five nights. We did a tour of the studio and because Trudie [Dave’s partner] had been sending emails to Ples Hampton, the recording engineer out there, he said, “You’re the guy from the UK!” So I replied, “Yeah, I just want to know if there’s any chance of me fluking a recording session here? If you’ve got any American musicians, I just need a drummer, a bass player and a guitarist.” I managed to get a session on this Wednesday evening from six o’clock till midnight! I got to stand where Elvis stood and sing That’s All Right through the same microphone. It just made the hairs on the back on my neck stand up!
All this time, you were documenting your trip to America on social media, am I right?
Yeah, when I got back, Trudie was telling me all about it. Loads of people were following me on social media, and I just thought, “Right, I’m gonna put a rockabilly band together.” So I made this band, called it Little Dave & The Sun Sessions, and it’s gone from strength to strength. I mean, before lockdown we were in Italy and we’d played at quite a few of the festivals.
How did you source the members of your band?
I knew a couple of them from when I was on the rockabilly scene before my son was born. I’m from Bournemouth originally, but have spent probably half my life in London. I moved here because of the music, and as part of this band I was in called The Backbeats I did this BBC show called Don’t Give Up The Day Job and won it. It was a phone-in vote from the public at home. That would have been about 1996.
You once performed at Buckingham Palace, didn’t you?
Yes, a friend of a friend booked us for a Christmas party for the staff there. What a venue! We had a blast. Obviously I can’t disclose too much but there were some celebrities there as well. Unfortunately, we didn’t meet the Queen!
Tell us about your other band, The Blue Moon Boys. How do they differ from The Sun Sessions?
The Blue Moon Boys are basically a trio. Think Johnny Cash or early Elvis without drums. I suppose it’s a little bit more laid-back whereas I would say The Sun Sessions are more high-octane.
This release is a four-track EP, but you were planning an album originally, weren’t you?
Yeah, COVID really messed up a lot of things. We did go in and do a few more songs than are on the EP. We recorded about 10 numbers so there was about an album’s worth there. And now the record company’s talking about issuing a second EP so it’ll be four tracks again.
You seem to keep yourself very busy. What’s your process for writing songs?
The problem with writing is it’s not like a job, where you can get up and go, “Right, I’m going to come up with a song.” I need inspiration! I do write a lot of stuff, and end up with half-written songs, and then I’ll put it to one side. I may come back to it, not just weeks later, but months later. It could come from a personal matter of my own, or a family member, or it could be something that I see on the news. It’s really weird how things come together. There’s no set way.
Did you record over lockdown?
Some bands managed to lay down material without even being in the same room together. I’m not very good with the technical stuff. I can’t work like that. I like to work live so I suppose it’s old-school. With guitarists, I wouldn’t want him to go in and do an overdub – it’s gotta have that raw feeling, that’s how they did it back in the 50s. That’s kind of my angle. It’s not like a lot of modern rockabilly, it’s more the authentic 50s rockabilly, and that’s the sound I want. At least the guys realise, whoever’s with me, I know what I want. That’s got to be easier than not knowing what you you’re after, you know what I mean?
You also have a Gene Vincent tribute act, Be Bop A Lula…
That’s a different thing entirely. Basically, I just do a tribute to the great legend. I’ve been endorsed by both of his daughters now. Firstly, Melody Craddock in California because she saw me doing something and got in touch and said what a fantastic tribute I was doing to her dad. And then I did the Ace Cafe with a band called The Carolinas and I ended up meeting Sherri Vincent, his other daughter from the UK. So now she’s endorsed me as well.
What do you have lined up for this year?
I’ve got a couple of big things coming at the Ace Cafe and the Chelmsford Social Club with Vince Eager. That’s in aid of Sherri’s Gene Vincent Foundation. Also Little Dave & The Sun Sessions have bookings in clubs and festivals up and down the country throughout the year. Of course it’s never enough – bookers and promoters, please get in touch!
Little Dave’s Sun Sessions is out now via Vee-Tone Records
Follow Little Dave on Facebook