Colorado singer-songwriter Dave Tamkin recently released his new album, Live at eTOWN, a seven-song collection that showcases his unique rhythmic-acoustic style and unabashedly honest lyrics in a space where he performs best: a live setting. Ahead of a busy November, Tamkin kindly took the time to answer his Essential 8 where he spoke about the album, offer up some touring tips, let us in on his favorite audio books, discuss failure as success, and more.
Why did you choose to anchor the album with the songs you did?
I wasn’t aware that this Live at eTown EP was being recorded at the time of the performance. A friend told me later that eTown records all their shows. So out of the 10 + songs I performed that night, these 7 songs were the ones I was most proud of. I was able to introduce a new song while rounding out songs from the last two releases. I felt good on stage that night and the audience supported me with every song. I’m proud of the performance and wanted to share it. I hope people can feel like they were right there when they listen to it and connect with the songs.
What’s the best advice you have ever gotten from another musician?
“Slow down and I can’t understand what you’re saying.” It’s two things that multiple musicians have told me over the years. Ha! When I was living in Chicago the music I played was always competing against a bar audience. Yes, they were there to support us and have a great time but it wasn’t so much about the songs as it was about the groove and getting people into the party atmosphere. That could have been self-imposed but it’s what influenced me a lot. Play fast and ask questions later. As my surroundings changed in Colorado, I met more songwriters that played at venues that allowed a pin drop to be heard between verses and choruses. The listening audiences influenced me to be clear with my lyrics and to slow down. Hopefully it’s made me a better songwriter.
What’s the best advice to give to a musician just starting out?
Never stop creating or learning how to be better at your art. Play something new every day. Sing something new every day. Learn your favorite songs. Take time to journal when you are not playing or singing. If you never stop learning and creating, your ego won't have time to take over.
How do you kill the long hours in the van?
Audio books and Podcasts like it’s my job! Autobiographies, Biographies, Freakonomics, Tim Ferris, Steven Pressfield’s The War of Art (Listen to it often) I tried to stay inspired by learning new shit and it also gives me ideas for stories in between songs when I get to the next town.
Do you have any touring tips?
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