Aspen Times Weekly: Cedaredge singer-songwriter David Starr partners with John Oates for ‘The Head and the Heart’
David Starr, the musical mayor of Cedaredge, first met John Oates many moons ago in Aspen at the Great Divide music store.
Decades later, they finally sat down together in a Nashville studio to record Starr’s new album, “The Head and the Heart,” which the Rock and Roll Hall of Famer and Woody Creeker produced and arranged.
The six-song EP, due out April 28, showcases Starr’s gift for wise and personal folk songs that are powered by his unmistakable baritone.
“His music is authentic, his songs are honest, full of emotion and truth,” Oates says.
Starr plays regularly with local musicians like Bobby Mason, John Michel and Michael Jude. Michel and Jude, who tour and record with Oates’ solo band, brought Oates to play a show in Cedaredge a few years ago. Starr sat in with Oates, which led to more shows around the U.S. and some collaborative writing sessions and eventually to “The Head and the Heart,” which is Starr’s eighth record.
Starr says Oates pushed him during the recording process and got the best out of him, while also suggesting Starr take on his unconventional cover of “California Dreamin’” — a highlight of the record. Starr was on tour on the West Coast at the time, parked in his mobile home, when Oates called him with the suggestion and offered up an evocative guitar line for it.
“The way the guitar part is structured, it’s almost like a classical piece,” Starr told me recently from home in Cedaredge, where he was preparing for a California concert tour. “It’s pretty intricate.”
An Arkansas native, Starr lived in Aspen in the early 1980s. He went back to Arkansas and founded his Starr’s Guitars shop there before moving it to Cedaredge in 2001. The remote Delta County town has been an ideal home for the songwriter since then.
“I love the west,” he says. “There’s the expansiveness of it and there’s this attitude where everybody leaves everybody else alone. I like that part.”
A creative community has sprouted up around Starr’s Guitars in Cedaredge. Over the past 17 years, it’s become a mecca for Western Slope musicians, a hub for songwriters and a point of civic pride (in November, the town council declared Nov. 8 David Starr Day).
“If a guy like me can be around guitars all day, that’s a good day,” he says. “Even on a bad day, you’ve got the mountains and a bunch of guitars.”
Finding the natural rhythms and phrasings on new songs like “Edge of the World” and “Waiting for the Dark” is a gradual process for Starr.
“I’m always collecting words and phrases and ideas,” he says. “A lot of it these days is just speaking into my phone and collecting voice memos. And when I decide to write something I can pull those ideas together and get a good sketch on paper of what the lyric is going to be. Then I sit down with the guitar.”
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April has been decreed, for the first time, as “Sonoma County Wine Month” by the vintners and it is a righteous idea, one that should have legs long into the future.