David LaMotte |
at the Six String Cafe & Music Hall,
(23 April 2005)
I first saw singer-songwriter David LaMotte almost two years ago and loved him. Unfortunately, I did not write a review of his wonderful performance and was not going to let that happen again.
LaMotte is from Montreat, North Carolina, near the town of Asheville. He's been singing and writing songs full-time since 1990 and has won numerous songwriting awards, including three in the 2002 USA Songwriting Competition.
This evening's performance marked the fourth anniversary of the Six String Cafe. It is a gem of a place that, according to LaMotte, "features music and offers beer" instead of "featuring beer and offering music." There were tables and chairs throughout and a couple of comfy couches right in front of the stage -- this where I was lucky enough to sit with a good friend and be close enough to see all of LaMotte's expressions from the top of his long-haired head down to his cowboy boot-covered toes.
He opened the first set with "Dark & Deep," a song he wrote when he was struggling with keeping (and breaking) big promises that were costing him too much. Listeners immediately got a taste of his songwriting skills while he drew the audience into his world.
LaMotte is an amazing singing-storyteller who fills you with vivid images and emotions that can often spark long lost memories. As he sang "Bicycle Man," I closed my eyes and had a vivid childhood memory magically pop into my mind -- I was riding my banana-saddled bike on a sunny day with the wind blowing through my hair without a care in the world. I think the song may have had something to do with a young boy riding his bike, but all I can remember now are my own memories. I don't think LaMotte would mind this one bit as after the previous gig I saw him at, I told him one of his songs really touched me and brought back memories I hadn't thought of in ages. He responded, "Good! That's what it's supposed to do."
He ended his first set with "In the Light" which speaks of the connection he seeks with his audience and with people everywhere -- if he does his part and they do theirs, a lasting bond is made. I adore this song that could speak for all singer-songwriters and their fans everywhere. I felt compelled to share a verse:
You know I ain't no television
LaMotte's guitar playing was amazing. He used both finger-picking and guitar pick styles and even at times used his guitar as a percussive instrument. A wonderful example of his superb guitar playing was the tune "Shadows." He used a Boss DD-5 delay pedal to make his guitar echo and repeat the note or sound he just played. His whole guitar was used as an instrument -- he picked the strings over the body, plucked them high on the neck, used the body as a drum and even seemed to bend the neck bit, which caused it to emit a very unique sound. I have to admit that guitar instrumentals are not favorites of mine -- to me they are good for relaxing background music, but there is no way this song can ever be just in the background. It makes you pay attention and is a little different every time he plays it. I loved it!
LaMotte is modest about his performing talent and calls himself an amateur. He said the word "amateur" means "lover" in French, so all amateur musicians are really lovers of what they do and play. I think he is certainly an amateur as he played and caressed the whole length of his guitar with knowing, loving hands and his clear, strong voice came from his heart -- LaMotte truly loves what he does.
Until quite recently, his love songs often included a humorous tale of someone in love who vomits at least once during the song. When he introduced his next song, someone asked if it was going to include throwing up. He said "No. I'm now in the post-regurgitation phase." This shows off some of his incredible sense of humor. Even sound glitches can be an outlet for his comical side. During the second set his guitar started to sound too bass heavy, and LaMotte and the sound engineer were having a bit of a struggle getting it fixed while the audience patiently waited. He then looked at the crowd, took a deep breath, gave us all a quirky smile and proceeded to throw one of his picks into the guitar and said "There! A guitar snack!" I guess his guitar was hungry because it sounded much better after its snack.
LaMotte's performance was spectacular, but the real star of the show was a little girl named Samantha who I'm guessing was between 4 and 5 years old. She had seen LaMotte perform before and had his children's album, The SS Bathtub, at home. He needed "help" with remembering the words to this award-winning song, so he invited Samantha up on stage to help him sing. He knelt on the floor beside her so they both could sing into the microphone. He sang some of the words, then stopped suddenly so she could fill in the next. Samantha was a bit shy, but LaMotte easily drew her out. She even elbowed him and smiled as she said "Mac and Cheese" to help him with his feigned forgetfulness. (I think young Samantha may have changed a few of the words, but they all seemed to fit.) Everyone enjoyed her performance, but I think LaMotte enjoyed it the most as pure joy shone on his face while singing with one of his youngest fans. With a smirk he told the crowd to keep this a secret, as all the kids will want to sing with him on stage. I couldn't pass up telling this wee story and hope he can cope with the children's demands. (I have a feeling he can handle it.)
It was a very memorable evening and I highly recommend catching a David LaMotte performance at your earliest convenience ... or inconvenience as the case may be. We drove for 2.5 hours to see him and would do it again in a heartbeat.
by Erika S. Rabideau