the early 1990's, Microwave Dave began experimenting with a
one-man-band act that drew on traditional blues and such performers as
Dr. Ross and
Juke Boy Bonner. Employing two Fender amps and a Premier bass drum, the
music created enough impact to land Dave a job on Tuesday nights at the
Kaffeeklatsch in Huntsville, Alabama, the venue where his stage name had
been assigned to him in the mid-1980s by Chicago Bob Nelson.
Later in 2001, Richard Johnston opened for the Nukes in Memphis, inspiring
Dave with his Lowebow double-neck four-string cigar box guitar. Adding the
Lowebow brought even more response at Solo Electric Blues performances,
mandating a live recording. Sessions at the Kaffeeklatsch in 2003 resulted
in the release of "American Peasant" on Distant Farmer records, which is
considered today to be the world premier live blues album using loops.
Well-received by the media, "American Peasant" drew comments such as
"jaw-dropping" in Blues Revue; "unpredictable, risky, certainly exciting--a
guitar tour-de-force" in the UK's Blues & Rhythm, and "anarchic
soloing…idiosyncratic…ironically stylish…singular chops as impressive as
they are aberrant" in Living Blues.
Five years later, the Jazz Factory invited Microwave Dave to bring the act -
since re-christened as Solo Electric Blues - to their upstairs lounge for
Wednesday evenings. Between the two venues with their differing atmospheres
and crowds, the music created by Dave undertook a long developmental period
that combined both hard-driving blues combo sounds with improvisational
jazz/rock-tinted instrumentals that were usually created on the spot and
promptly forgotten, much to the chagrin of listeners who would return during
ensuing weeks to request re-performances.
Innovative technology is not a prerequisite springboard for blues artists,
but Microwave Dave began experimenting to broaden his sound. Utilizing a
Roland GR 300 guitar synthesizer, bass parts began to appear simultaneously
on some pieces, further filling out the one-man-band concept and inspiring
more dancing. In 2001, a Boss Loop Station was added, allowing real-time
overdubbed rhythm tracks to be cycled indefinitely. Dave thus brought his
style of soloing with the Nukes into the Solo Electric Blues shows.
The success of "American Peasant" brought more changes in equipment. The
Boss Loop Station was replaced by a Gibson Echoplex Digital Pro Plus which
upgraded the loop sound to CD level and offered expanded loop arrangements.
The original 1959 Premier bass drum was retired, and an electronic
Porchboard Bass took its place. Eventually the amplifiers themselves were
eliminated as amp modeling technology came of age, and two different Vox
Tonelabs have been Microwave Dave's guitar sound source since late 2004. In
2005, the addition of a Bose L-1 Cylindrical Radiator sound system lifted
Solo Electric Blues into high fidelity.
Throughout these technical enhancements, Microwave Dave's guitars of choice
have remained the inexpensive 60's Japanese imports that were played by
J.B. Hutto and
Hound Dog Taylor, among others. The
Lowebow and later Cigtone cigar box guitars were joined by the custom-built
High Freq, fashioned by luthier Ted Crocker to Dave's specifications.
After seventeen years of weeknight performances in downtown Huntsville,
Microwave Dave's Solo Electric Blues now travels throughout the Deep South,
appearing at festivals, events and clubs. While the Nukes remain Microwave
Dave's flagship vehicle, Solo Electric Blues has found its own niche.