13 Nov

David Childers

Pittsburgh Winery (2815 Penn Avenue Pittsburgh PA 15222) 9:00 PM - 11:00 PM

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Tickets are $15 in advance $20 at the door.  Doors @ 8:00 p.m.

Throughout his 20-year career as a singer, songwriter and bandleader, Childers has written about the tension between secular and religious impulses. His albums have always included songs of wild hedonism and uplifting faith but, as his new album, Serpents of Reformation, evolved, he found himself drawn to themes of salvation and repentance. “I wrote a few new gospel-type songs and the music took on a life of its own. The songs all look at the forgiveness that’s at the heart of Christian philosophy, even though you don’t see a lot (of forgiveness) in the world today.

Childers usually tracks his records live, with minimal overdubs. This time, he let his son Robert and co-producer Neal Harper control the creative process. “I didn’t set out to make a gospel album,” David Childers says, “I wanted to make a hip-hop record. I’d been listening to a lot of the stuff RL Burnside recorded late in his career. He had a lot of hip hop beats and electronic rhythms in the background. I told my son Robert, who knows a lot about recording technology that I wanted to do a record like that. We started by recording ‘Life of Jesus,’ a song I did with The Gospel Playboys in the 90s, and took off from there.

“Sometimes I’d do a basic track singing with a drummer or my acoustic guitar,” Childers continued. “Mostly, I was just brought in to do my vocals. I didn’t hang out in the studio. I just let them do what they wanted to do.”

The result is a hybrid that blends Childers’ roots in folk, country and blues, with the atmospheric textures generated by Harper and his son Robert, a mix of acoustic and electronic sounds that span the entire history of American music. “God Is God” is a traditional tune, an a cappella tour de force that’s half jubilee gospel and half chain gang moan, delivered with deep guttural harmonies and hand claps. Childers learned “Woman at the Well” from the singing of Mahalia Jackson, but this bass heavy arrangement is full of the grating sounds of industrial decay, with Childers’ lead vocal crying for a hint of solace. On “Don’t Be Scared,” Childers sings the praises of love’s healing power, while acoustic banjo, fiddle and stand up bass offset the processed Johnny Cash thump of the backing track. “This song is about merging the physical and spiritual in a positive way,” Childers explains. “If there’s a touch of Cash in it, that’s cool. He was a redneck singing about societies ills and all God’s children ain’t free, which was not popular with Southern white people, and still isn’t.”

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