Sunday, October 08, 2006

Dave Evans "Sad Pig Dance" (UK Folk 1974)

The British guitarist Dave Evans, a real dazzler of a fingerpicker, has been recording since the early '70s. His first entirely instrumental album was released in 1974. Entitled Sad Pig Dance, it might have attracted only farmers and policemen's ball attendees, but nonetheless managed to do a great deal to set up Evans' reputation in a somewhat crowded genre. This player's compositions, particularly his harmonic frameworks, are quite different than better-known players such as John Renbourn or Bert Jansch; he sometimes sounds as if he is playing all of their guitars at once. What he is actually playing is a guitar he built himself, so any and all compliments for this unmistakably cavernous sound should go to Evans himself.

His great instrumental talents -- including techniques involving alternate tunings and percussion-like sound effects -- have continued to be an obsession among guitarists from the new age crowd to free improv noise guitar deviates; this fact tends to overshadow Evans' work as a singer/songwriter. It was in this mode that he first presented himself to the listening public on the 1971 album entitled The Words in Between. It has been correctly pointed out by several critics that those were the days when a songwriter armed with a guitar was expected to really be able to play, not just to be a strum and humbum. It was Evans' picking, not his singing, that attracted fellow guitarist and record label manager Stefan Grossman who, in the late '70s, began documenting a variety of guitarists including Evans on the Kicking Mule label. Most of Evans' best music from the '70s has been reissued.

If you consider yourself an expert on folk but aren't familiar with Dave Evans, it isn't surprising. The acoustic guitarist never became well known, although not because of a lack of talent--Evans' talent is obvious on 1974's Sad Pig Dance, his first session for Kicking Mule. On this unaccompanied solo guitar outing (which was produced by Stefan Grossman), Evans' focus is instrumental folk that incorporates elements of rock and Mississippi Delta blues. The British guitarist plays with a lot of warmth and feeling on such reflective, earthy originals as "Sun and Moon," "Morocco John" and "Raining Cats and Dogs," and he is equally appealing on Bert Jansch's "Veronica" and jazz improviser Jimmy Giuffre's "The Train and the River," which lends itself nicely to a folk setting. Sad Pig Dance was out of print for many years, but in 1999, Fantasy reissued it on CD and added nine bonus tracks from 1976-78--four of them were originally heard on 1976's Take A Bite out of Life. Unfortunately, recording albums wasn't how Evans would end up earning a living; the 1980s and 1990s found him paying the bills by building and repairing instruments in Belgium. But the fact remains: Evans brings a lot of charisma to Sad Pig Dance. ~ Alex Henderson, All Music Guide


Anonymous Anonymous said...

thanks for putting this up.
i've been trying to get all of dave evans recordings.
what a great guitar player

09 October, 2006 11:36  
Blogger JANISFARM said...

thanks a lot liz

Love his music

09 October, 2006 18:28  
Blogger Rod Warner said...

thanks for this - I saw Dave play live many times in the mid-sixties - he could hold his own with any of the more famous pickers and then some...

10 October, 2006 04:19  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for this amazing post. Brings back great memories. He was a friend of a friend of mine, (Nigel ) Mazlyn Jones, another great artist well worth checking out, so I used to see and hear him around. I remember watching him playing 'stage fright' one sunny afternoon sitting outsides Nigel's caravan in Cornwall and was totally in awe of what he was doing with those strings.

02 January, 2007 05:14  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What a great LP. Anyone interested in other LPs by Dave Evans , Steve Tilston, or ian anderson I have the original Village Thing LPs in MINT UNPLAYED CONDITION for sale. Please email me if you are interested in any its . My website is

Please let me know if there is anything you are interested in,.
PSD:I also sell some LPs on ebay under the name watty9876

09 March, 2007 09:00  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Here are links to two Dave Evans albums not on CD (in their entirety). I transferred them from vinyl copies, and encoded to 320kbps mp3s. Feel free to put this into a normal posting if you think enough people would want to check them out, I'd love them to circulate as much as possible.

Elephantasia (1972):

Take a Bite Out of Life (1976):

15 June, 2007 17:32  
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