Together and evolving for a little more than a year, local blues band Leftfoot Dave and the Magic Hats' strategic formation has culminated in a group of top-tier musicians. The act will record its debut release in a live setting this week.
Leftfoot Dave and the Magic Hats were assembled gradually by front man Dave Overall, a classically trained musician, who has performed with the Knoxville Symphony Orchestra for four seasons. The vocalist/French horn player developed the band (consisting of Overall, guitarist Detroit Dave Meer, guitarist Doug Shanklin, bassist Allen Halcomb and drummer Kevin Redding) through a series of jam sessions at Roger's Place that served as open tryouts and practice runs. Through the course of these sessions, the group was whittled and honed to Overall's expectations and soon began performing sets under its current moniker.
"This was a good way for us to kind of put things together, put things in perspective, to know what we were going to do with the band," Overall explains. "The whole intent, of course, is to go out and play shows, and the blues jam was a good way to not only perform for everybody but to build a rapport with other musicians in the area. ... From the beginning most of the guys in the band were the ones I'd wanted. Over time we just refined the group. Within a couple of months I had the band pretty much where I wanted it. Like all bands, there are always times when you find someone else with the sound or ability you're looking for. That's what I've done."
An accomplished musician, Overall is a lover of all music but points out his gravitation toward genres that run the gamut of emotions. Classical music is known for its wide spectrum of moods, but his beloved blues is most often associated specifically with melancholy. Overall tells that this is not necessarily the case, at least in his take on the style, which fully explores the emotional archive and often erupts into dancing sessions.
"You can find blues in a lot of genres in some form or fashion," Overall points out. "Blues has a sinful nucleus to me. You can find symphonic works that have a lot of angst and just all of the emotions. Strauss, Wagner and Moller in their writings have all the aspects — good, bad, happiness, sadness, turmoil; they have it all. That's where I find blues. Blues to me is not all about being sad. Blues has all that I mentioned in symphonic works, except the fact that you're more vocal about it. A lot of people think there is a recurring theme in all blues music that repeats every 12 bars, but there really is a lot more to it than that. The music says as much as the lyrics, and you can tell as the folks get out on the dance floor."
To capture the energy of its live performances, Leftfoot Dave and the Magic Hats have opted to record their debut release live. While the band will play a three- to four-hour set Wednesday night at The Well, the recording will focus on four originals and four covers, which will be compiled on an EP for release later this year. Overall points out that its release plan is still tentative, and pending results, the group may choose to add more tracks before final production to fill out a complete album.
"The recording we are doing at The Well is to showcase our live show, because there is so much energy there, we thought it would be a great chance to capture it," says Overall. "The Well is emerging as the spot for original live music in Knoxville, and there was no question it was the right fit for the recording. We have a sound engineer that will be recording the show and, once the production is complete, we will be releasing a live CD later in the year."
Wednesday night Leftfoot Dave and the Magic Hats will record a live set at The Well. Music kicks off at 9 p.m. and admission is free.
Spencer for hire: The 20-plus-year rock 'n' roll veteran Jon Spencer Blues Explosion plays The Pilot Light Tuesday night at 10 p.m. Shockwave Riderz open. Tickets are available in advance for $15 or at the door for $20.
Leftfoot Dave and the Magic Hats
When: 9 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 16
Where: The Well, 4620 Kingston Pike
© 2013, Knoxville News Sentinel Co.
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