This week’s Local Spins Artist Spotlight shines on a versatile multi-instrumentalist from Grand Rapids with a penchant for musical story-telling. He plays One Trick Pony tonight. (Podcast, video)
David Molinari can’t escape it: He’s compelled to write songs.
Indeed, the Grand Rapids multi-instrumentalist figures he currently has at least three albums’ worth of original material stored up for upcoming albums, including a possible solo project and a recording with his band, Creolization.
And it’s an inventory of songs that covers a lot of musical ground.
“I grew up with my dad listening to old country, my brothers were listening to ’60s rock ‘n’ roll and my sister was listening to disco. It all kind of gets in there I suppose,” he surmises, confessing he has difficulty describing his rootsy, musical style that ranges from folk to rock.
“I just kind of let a song be what it wants to be. I used to worry about having a unified style and I just decided to not worry about that anymore. I’ll even write some things sometimes that maybe I shouldn’t be singing.”
Since moving to Grand Rapids from the Chicago area in 1987, Molinari has used those compelling originals to put himself at the forefront of West Michigan’s singer-songwriter scene, performing regularly at venues such as downtown’s One Trick Pony, where he’ll appear again at 8 tonight (Thursday).
PLAYING THE BLUEBIRD CAFE IN NASHVILLE
He even landed the opportunity in May to perform with Michigan native Rachael Davis and other songwriters at Nashville’s famed Bluebird Café, in front of an exceptionally engaged audience.
On Wednesday, he brought one of his songs to Local Spins Live on News Talk 1340 AM (WJRW), performing “Junkie for Your Love” on the air. Listen to a podcast of the show here, with a video of that performance below.
That song first appeared on Creolization’s 2011’s debut CD, which followed Molinari’s 2006 solo album, “Whispering to a Crowd.”
Indeed, Molinari takes a versatile approach in delivering his music, playing with a full-band as the zydeco-hued, high-energy Creolization, as a “power duo” with percussionist Fritz von Valtier, and as a solo artist, enhanced by his ability to play a host of instruments – guitar, keyboards, accordion, drums, lap steel guitar, harmonica.
“The duo thing is much easier to manage and takes up a smaller footprint,” Molinari concedes. “That’s really fun. It gives me a lot of freedom because I can go where I want with the chord progression.”
He also boasts a catalog of hundreds of cover songs, many of which he trots out in performing solo shows several times a month at area hospitals, rehab facilities, nursing homes and the Grand Rapids Home for Veterans in his work for the nonprofit Senior Singalong organization, with whom he’s been associated for seven years.
GREAT GIGS AND ACCIDENTALLY STEALING ‘BROWN-EYED GIRL’
That alone, he says, is a gratifying experience because these audiences can be far more attentive and engaged than the typical bar crowd. “It’s a great gig,” he says of playing at the Veterans Home and other facilities. “It feeds my writing, too.”
Molded by the music that surrounded him as a boy – The Guess Who, Ricky Nelson, The Rolling Stones, Grand Funk Railroad, Johnny Cash, James Taylor – Molinari picked up a host of instruments growing up.
His father taught him his first song, “You Are My Sunshine” on guitar, but Molinari also got jazz training on the vibraphone, took a year of classical guitar lessons and endured “the seven proverbial years of piano, which I despised.” He really “turned the light on” musically as a drummer in high school, encouraged by his percussion teacher.
That’s when he also started writing songs. “The very first one I realized a year later was actually ‘Brown-Eyed Girl,’ ” he jokes. “It could have been a worse song to steal, I guess.”
These days, Molinari – who also gives guitar, piano and drum lessons – has honed his songwriting skills considerably, even winning the Jammie Award for outstanding male artist of 2011 from WYCE-FM. He also hopes to eventually license some of those songs for use in films and on television.
In addition to performing a solo show at 8 tonight (Thursday) at One Trick Pony at 136 E. Fulton St. in Grand Rapids, Molinari and Creolization will perform at 6:45 p.m. July 4 at Ah-Nab-Awen Park as part of Celebration on the Grand. Molinari also plays the GRAM on the Green concert series at 6:30 p.m. July 24 in front of the Grand Rapids Art Museum with von Valtier and Michael Van Houten.
For more information about Molinari and links to his music, visit his website at davidmolinari.com.
Email John Sinkevics at email@example.com.
Copyright 2014, Spins on Music