When one becomes three as David Ford’s ‘solo’ show welcomes an American guitarist and a robot at The Crescent tomorrow

David Ford: Songs and stories at The Crescent, York

EASTBOURNE troubadour David Ford might play solo stomps with loop machines and effects pedals or backed by a swish jazz trio or with a string quartet attached. Not this time in his intimate Songs 2023 gig at The Crescent, York, tomorrow night.

After 2022’s albums May You Live In Interesting Times and Love And Death, for 2023 Ford has “taken the rare decision to keep it simple, leave most of the crazy machines at home, play some of his favourite songs and share stories about where they came from”. Oh, and he’ll be bringing his new DIY toy, a drum robot. Beat that. 

In the support slot will be Nashville singer, songwriter, guitarist, pedal steel player, virtuoso session musician and producer J P Ruggieri.

“It keeps things a little bit dangerous and exciting as a performer,” says David Ford

Here David Ford has a word with CharlesHutchPress about gigs, robots, books, happiness and irritations

What form will the show take, David?

“Well, it was originally intended to be me playing my songs alone on stage but since I have JP Ruggieri – who is quite the finest player of a guitar I have ever had the good fortune to witness – along as support act, I’ve insisted that he join me for a few.

“And with the addition of Perry the plywood automaton drummer I spent the first frozen months of 2023 building, the show has evolved into one of the less orthodox three-piece band performances.”

What do you like about this form of performance, by comparison with playing with a jazz trio, string quartet or loop machines?

“I always like to change the way I present my songs live. It’s a great part of the challenge and the enjoyment for me. It keeps things a little bit dangerous and exciting as a performer and hopefully some of that energy is transferred to the audience.”

What instruments will feature?

“I’m playing guitars and keyboards; JP is caressing sweet sounds from a lovely old hollow-bodied guitar…and a stack of plywood and wires will be turning a series of wooden discs with strategically inserted screws to trigger tiny motors to hit drums in a rhythmical manner. That’s Perry.”

David Ford in March 2023: “Feeling helpless as as the forces of democracy and capitalism go all Cain and Abel on each other”

At 44, might you fancy writing a second book to chart what’s happened since the first, the cautionary autobiographical tales of 2011’s I Choose This – How To Nearly Make It In The Music Industry? (The one where David said, “there was a time when people swore I’d be the next big thing. It took ten years of hard work and dedication, but I finally proved them all wrong.”)

“Yes. It’s on my list. I think I’ve been waiting for an ending. Some kind of grand finale. But since I still don’t appear to be getting close to retirement, I need to think of the next book as less of a sequel and more as book two of a trilogy… and maybe one of those trilogies in 12 parts.”

Any touring or recording plans for later in the year?

“I’m planning some shows with my friend Abe Partridge [American folk singer-songwriter from Mobile, Alabama] in the early summer around the UK and Europe. And I have some songs taking shape inside my head.”

What’s making you happy at the moment?

“Playing music that feels organic, different every night. Connecting with audiences. I’m also delighted at the number of little lambs I see in fields as I drive around Britain.” 

What’s annoying you right now?

“Oh, the usual! My feeling of helplessness as the forces of democracy and capitalism go all Cain and Abel on each other. The continual grasping among the well-meaning for simple explanations to complex problems as the mega-tanker of the age drifts slowly toward the iceberg of history.

“And I keep losing my hat.”

Footnote: David Ford has been known to acquire new hats in York.

David Ford & J P Ruggieri…oh and Perry too, Songs 2023, The Crescent, York, Thursday (16/3/2023), 7.30pm. Box office: thecrescentyork.com.

JP Ruggieri: Nashville support act for David Ford