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Run Skeleton Run. This song is rockabilly royalty. It is more than just rockabilly. Childers uses a fiddle on this track so it is not exclusive rockabilly. But, it is an amazing song. Just because it starts off as rockabilly doesn’t mean it’s gonna stay there. In fact, it does not. David Childers covers some serious musical ground on this album. All disciplines that Childers touches on Run Skeleton Run turn to gold.
David Childers was a musician and then became an attorney and then a musician again. I am glad he came back because Run Skeleton Run is a dandy! I noticed that the production work on Run Skeleton Run is really flawless. Absolutely perfect mixing and production value. Then I see that the producer was none other than Don Dixon, who produced REM and The Smithereens.......
......One of the finest Americana albums I have heard in the last ten years. The writing, singing, and playing have come together to make something magical. After hearing Run Skeleton Run, I am glad David is back making music. I am always inspired when someone makes a sacrifice, passion over a career.
Singer-songwriter David Childers is the proverbial study in contradictions. A resident of Mount Holly, North Carolina, he’s a former high-school football player with the aw-shucks demeanor of a good ol’ Southern boy. But he’s also a well-read poet and painter who cites Chaucer and Kerouac as influences, fell in love with folk as a teen, listens to jazz and opera, and fed his family by practicing law before turning in his license to concentrate on his creative passions.
The legal profession’s loss is certainly the music world’s gain. Childers’ new album, Run Skeleton Run, releasing May 5, 2017 on Ramseur Records, is filled with the kinds of songs that have made him a favorite of fans and fellow artists including neighbors the Avett Brothers. Scott Avett contributes to four tracks, and Avetts bassist Bob Crawford co-executive-produced the effort with label head Dolph Ramseur. (Crawford and Childers, both history buffs, have recorded and performed together in the Overmountain Men).
“I’m always looking for ideas,” he says. “I’ve never been able to get any serious writers to co-write with me. Here are these folks, just regular people, and they got something to say, and they’re sending me stuff, and I’m going ‘Well, if they’re gonna send it to me, I’m gonna try and do something with it.’”
Childers has always regarded his place in the musical pantheon as that of an outsider, though not deservedly so. As those involved with this album indicate, he’s well-regarded among tastemakers. Evidence includes playing the syndicated World Café and Mountain Stage radio shows (he’s done the latter twice), as well as Merlefest’s mainstage. He’s also toured in Europe, and hopes to again. But he credits the support of Crawford and Ramseur with helping him sustain his musical career — which began in college, though he didn’t start recording until the ’90s.
Childers’ father had given him a banjo when he was 14, but he still had his “jock mentality” back then and didn’t do much with it. That changed when he picked up a guitar at 18.
“My girlfriend had left me for one of my best friends and I was all shook up and needed an outlet besides drinking and fighting. As soon as I learned my first chords on a guitar, I knew I had a friend who would never betray me,”
he recalls. He formed his first band, the acoustic trio Steeltree, in 1973, and released his first album, Godzilla! He Done Broke Out!, as David Childers & the Mount Holly Hellcats, in 1995. His first solo album, Time Machine, came in 1998. He spent several years playing rock, folk and honky-tonk with the David Childers Band, then the Modern Don Juans, whose fans included the Avett boys. He calls his current band the Serpents, but says he’s given up trying to label each incarnation.
His last album, 2014’s Serpents of Reformation, delved into religion; this time, several songs address aging and the perspective of a man in review mode — a perspective he sums up on the final track, “Goodbye to Growing Old,” written with Theresa Halfacre. It approaches the subject with a mix of acceptance and defiance.
Well, it’s mostly just a state of mind/And I ain’t about to say that it’s time/To surrender to anything. Anything. Anything, he sings, driving home his points with harmonica and his own layered harmony.
“I used to be afraid of growing old, but now I wouldn’t trade where I am for all the lean fury of my youth,” Childers insists, saying he’s happier now than he’s ever been. Especially now that he can concentrate on making music and painting; he and Robert did the album cover, a fine example of his primitive/outsider style.
I first saw David Childers perform on a hot, humid night in July 2000 at the legendary Double Door Inn in Charlotte, NC. Most of the songs he performed that evening were filled with the subject matter of Jesus, damnation, salvation, the devil, forgiveness, and redemption. I will never, ever forget it. It was such an inspiration that the next day I wrote David a personal letter asking him if we could make a record together about those things in which he was singing about. We have been friends ever since. No record or manager contract. Just a handshake.
It is my hope David's greatness as a songwriter and artist will be recognized and appreciated by many in years to come. Please lend an ear to his latest release, ‘Serpents of Reformation,’ and experience for yourself the same power that moved me so, that mesmerizing Summer night some fourteen years ago.
-- Dolph Ramseur
NoDepression Magazine writes:
David Childers has been through hell. Along the way, he's romped with giant reptiles ('95's Godzilla! He Done Broke Out;) went to some folks' version of hell, Nashville, to record '98's Time Machine, which he later declared to be stiff and artificial; teamed up with Don Dixon for '03's Room 23,which rates as his favorite; preached the gospel behind bars on '06's Jailhouse Religion; then toured the nether regions roasting on a spit ( '07's Burning In Hell.)'08's O Glorious Day, recorded as the Overmountian Menwith Avett Brothers' bassist David Crawford, showed a more mellow version of Childers than his rockabilly-dusted Mt. Holly Hellcats or the harder rock of his later outfit, The Modern Don Juans. Son Robert, on drums, is a rocker at heart, and punches out a stiff supporting framework. There's some hardcore country on this one as well, with “All Out Of Diamonds” sounding like an outtake from a long-lost Merle Haggard session.Childers got religion on '14's Serpents of Redemption, but it ain't gospel in the conventional sense, Childers tackng on a Bo Diddley beat to narrate the story of the world's first murder, “Cain and Abel,” re-creating the high and lonesome feel of an Appalachian church on “ How 'Bout You.”For his latest, even though he calls his current band the Serpents, the title cut reverts to his Mt. Holly Hellcats rockabilly sound. Son Robert is back on drums, pounding out a stiff framework supporting Dale Shoemaker's twangy surf guitar, Childers laying down some Jerry Lee-style vocals on top. Scott Avett sets up the tone with a poem about two drunkards' offspring who never got a word of thanks for his bank robbing career and died “so cold and sober his corpse never stank.''In addition to his songwriting, harp, guitar, and vocal skills, Childers is also a poet with an MFA from UNC-G, his '77 thesis a book of poetry called American Dusk. He recalls wowing the crowd at one of his poetry readings from the book with the lines “there was a roar and then the sky rained wing-tip shoes.” There's nothing quite so esoteric here, but Childers' word manipulation skills make this stuff jump out and grab you.Childers channels Merle Haggard on the blue-collar ballad “Greasy Dollar,” with Avett contributing Bakersfield-flavored harmony vocals. “What good is living and what good is dying/ if this is all I'm ever going to do,” Childers moans, as he spends his days digging ditches witha highway crew to earn his greasy dollars.