By Edwin Arnaudin
Backstage Pass 

Desmelik And Rose Will Be At Songwriters Event


Molly Rose (front) is a founding member of the band Underhill Rose

In the music business, as in most lines of work, connections are key to success. Dave Desmelik knows this fact well and has built a strong career through steady collaboration. As a way of sharing these links, the Brevard folksinger has established a monthly Songwriter in the Round gathering at 185 King Street in which area guests such as Amanda Platt, Galen Kipar, Laura Blackley, and Woody Wood meet him on stage for an insightful evening of dialogue and performance.

On Thursday, Jan. 10 at 8 p.m., he’ll be joined by Molly Rose of Asheville country/soul trio Underhill Rose and Spartanburg’s Shane Pruitt, the rollicking blues guitarist and frontman for his eponymous band. In anticipation of the show, Desmelik and Rose left their acoustic guitars in their cases and joined Backstage Pass for a preview round of tale swapping.

Backstage Pass: What inspired you to curate the Songwriter in the Round series?

Dave Desmelik: I have hosted and/or been a part of a number of these songwriter rounds in various areas I have lived through the stretch of my musical career. When 185 King Street opened, Jackson [Wine] contacted me about a possible booking and I suggested maybe we try a monthly songwriter event where fans and friends of different artists can see/hear them in a setting where we are all on stage together trading original songs. I love the format as a songwriter and a listener.

Q: What do you look for in guest artists for the series?

A: Strong original material and hopefully somewhat of a following so every artist has the potential to get exposure to new listeners in addition to the fan base they already have. But the most important thing to me is quality songwriting and a genuine performance.

Q: Molly, what is your history with Dave and Shane?

Molly Rose: I first heard about Dave through my songwriter friend Pierce Edens. He was really impressed with Dave’s songwriting, so I knew that I had to have a listen for myself. I first met Shane when I sang an improvisational set with The Everyone Orchestra at the Asheville Music Jamboree (AMJAM) in 2008. Shane and his bandmate Bill Fletcher were watching from the side stage and said that they would love to play some music together some time. It was certainly an honor — Shane is an incredible guitar player. After that, my bandmate Eleanor Underhill and I sang with Shane at a few live shows and recorded the backing vocals on his album, “State of Grace.”

Q: Dave, how does a typical evening in the series play out?

A: It’s been pretty laid back and loosey-goosey. It’s myself and two other regional songwriters sitting on stage and playing songs. Sometimes we talk about the songs and the inspiration and sometimes we just play. Sometimes if the moment strikes right, a harmony will be thrown in and a lead break taken. There is no rehearsal and we pretty much go on feel. The audience has been attentive and responsive so far and as a songwriter and performer, it’s what you hope for. I truly hope this event will continue to build so we may continue to bring these artists and songs to Brevard.

Q: Molly, if the opportunity arises to discuss the history behind a particular song, which backstory are you most looking forward to sharing?

A: That’s a great question. Some of the inspirations I write about have come from the time I have spent with Underhill Rose, the band that I co-founded with Eleanor. When you are on the road playing music, you meet all sorts of folks, and it is important to have a strong bond with your bandmates, because they are both your family and your team. When Salley (Williamson, the group’s upright bassist) first joined the band, there was one experience that told me she was a real keeper...but you’ll have to come to the show to hear why! In the spirit of that experience, there is a song that I co-wrote with the ladies of Underhill Rose that I will have to play.

Q: Dave, on the other end of the spectrum, your latest project is a collection of all instrumental works. How did you decide on that focus?

A: It is not a new idea for me as I have been writing and performing original instrumental tunes for a number of years. I have a couple of instrumentals on my first album (1999’s “Move On”) and my seventh album (2011’s “Deep Down The Definition”). I have plenty of instrumental songs I have written through the years so it was just a matter of making the decision to do it. I am a big fan not only of lyrical content but the melodies and smooth glides of how music can make a person feel.

Q: What are some of the challenges and rewards of making an instrumental album?

A. For me one of the challenges of making this instrumental record was to be aware of keeping it simple and not to overplay, which I feel I’ve established that concept pretty consistently throughout my career. Anyone who has listened to my past albums knows that I tend to keep it uncomplicated and I like it that way. However, I still try to remind myself of that especially in a recording situation. A reward for making an instrumental album for me is that I feel I can hang my hat on this album just as I would on any of my recordings. But in a bit of a different way, this one is very satisfying to me because it is a collection of old and new songs and it is something I have been wanting to do for quite some time.

Dave Desmelik


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