All In the Timing

Davey Dickens Jr. picked up a guitar six years ago. Next month, his band releases its debut album.

It’s funny how much difference five years can make in a person’s life.

Take local country musician Davey Dickens Jr. for instance. It wasn’t until 2011, when Dickens was 32 years old, that he started playing guitar. Yet, just five years later, in March 2016, he found himself in one of Wilmington’s most esteemed recording studios, performing and recording his songs with some of the area’s most seasoned musicians—members of the then newly formed Davey Dickens Jr. and the Troubadours.

“I’d never stepped foot in a studio, ever,” Dickens says, his voice betraying amazement at where he is today: His band releases its debut self-titled album on Feb. 16 at World Cafe Live at The Queen.

The album features eight songs penned by Dickens and touches on life’s challenges as well as some of its joys. Montana Wildaxe co-founder and guitarist Kurt Houff encouraged the project early on.

“Kurt and I got to be pretty good buddies,” Dickens says. “He started coming up to the house, and we did a couple of song-writing sessions. [Then] we started playing out a lot as The Troubadours.”

The Troubadours came to include a former bandmate of Dickens, Dave Van Allen, on pedal steel, along with Houff’s fellow Montana Wildaxe bassist Tony Cappella and former Caulfields drummer Ritchie Rubini, who did double-duty as producer during the band’s sessions at Studio 825 last year.
“I’m so blessed to have such a force,” says Dickens.

For Dickens, those blessings included attracting the interest of Johnny Neel, famed keyboardist most known for his time with The Allman Brothers. After getting a copy of Dickens’ material, the Wilmington-born Neel agreed to return to his native state to play on the album.

While Dickens is somewhat amazed at the band’s success, he isn’t resting on his laurels. “We’ve got a lot more material,” he says.

Davey Dickens Jr. and the Troubadours play Upstairs at World Cafe Live at The Queen on Feb. 16. Advance tickets are $10 and include a copy of the new album plus a band t-shirt. More details at worldcafelive.com.

Hitting the Right Note

Dave Mauk of Sympathetic Ears collaborated with local musicians for a new album, A View of My World

Dave Mauk has been involved with the local music scene for decades. For nearly 30 years, he worked in studios with bands like The Bigger Lovers, the Descendants and The Knobs. He was co-owner of the Stone Balloon in ’94, and saw artists like Ray Charles come through town. He worked with Bert Ottaviano at his North Wilmington, Hockessin and Newark record shops until the mid-2000s—which is where he met his long-time friend, Brad Newsom.

Now the head of the power pop/rock group Sympathetic Ears, Mauk has banded together with local artists to create his debut album, A View of My World, which released Nov. 15 and is available on iTunes, CD Baby and more. On Friday, Dec. 30, there will be an album release party at the Jackson Inn on N. DuPont Rd. in Wilmington.

Sympathetic Ears came together a couple of years ago when friends and comrades from The Knobs—Newsom and Phil Young—along with artist Andrew Stewart got together to help Mauk record some songs he had written. Along the way, a handful of other friends pitched in to help finish the record.
“For years we had recorded others, and I wanted to take a crack at it myself,” says Mauk. “I had some songs I was kicking around and decided I wanted to knuckle down and formalize them.”

On this record, Mauk plays the bass and keyboards, and at least eight other local artists, in addition to Newsom, Young and Stewart, have stepped in to help.

The project took a couple of years to complete, but not because coordinating with the other musicians was an issue. To start with, Newsom and Mauk had co-run a recording studio, Wisteria Sounds, from Newsom’s house in Wilmington beginning in 2000, so they had a free studio to work in. And Mauk says the work flowed easily with other artists, like Scott Birney from Sin City Band, Mark Kenneally from Dr. Harmonica & Rockett 88, and songwriter/producer Ritchie Rubini. Mauk and Newsom would get an idea of the direction of each song, then have someone come in to record harmonica or guitar.

“These guys are so talented and good and generous. Musically, I’m probably the weak link in that group,” says Mauk.

Which isn’t true, according to Newsom, who touts Mauk’s skills as a songwriter.

“Dave has perhaps played the role of the quiet one musically over the years and is finally coming more to the forefront with this project. Also, he’s one of the best, most dependable friends you can ask for—a truly great and humble guy who I’m lucky enough to know.”

During the recording process, Mauk retired to Mount Pleasant, S.C., but frequently travels back to Wilmington and doesn’t see the distance as a show-stopper. The group is already working on a second album, sending bits of tracks back and forth between Wilmington and Mount Pleasant.

The Dec. 30 show, featuring Newsom, Young, Stewart and second guitarist Ken Herblin, starts at 8 p.m. Local band The Cocks will join them.

For more information, visit sympears.com.