Family and friends have always known David Dunavent has a way of turning a phrase and playing a guitar.
Now, the rest of the world is ready to be exposed to his talents.
The discovery of David Dunavent takes place this fall when he releases his debut solo album, “Busting Out.”
This comes just a few short months after he and his band, Taylor Made Blues, release their second album of 2018, titled “149 Delta.”
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Dunavent admits he has a “good way of turning a phase,” writes in all kinds of musical genre and is confident his stuff is good.
He remembers his grandmother, Dorothy Walters, noticing early on that he had a gift for creating jingles, asking, “David, how do you come up with this stuff?”
Dunavent got his start on the stage at age 3 as a child actor in the ABC miniseries called “Elvis, the Early Years (1988-’90).
Dunavent grew up in a musical family in which his mom played piano and the cornet and his dad was a drummer. He credits his mom, Nancy Dunavent, for first encouraging and teaching him to play.
He took voice lessons in Clarksdale with Betty Lou Strivling and piano lessons with Ms. Rollins in his elementary years. However, when he began playing the guitar at age 11, Dunavent said it was driven by jealousy when his cousin, the family star athlete, Drew, “started picking up the guitar.”
David’s reaction was, “Oh-no you are not taking this from me. I’m the art guy in the family.”
“I started playing and now 40 guitars later, I’m kind of hooked,” Dunavent said.
“I just started playing any chance I could. I would have the guitar by my bed and I remember in the middle of the night, I’d start playing it.”
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In his junior year at Lee Academy, Dunavent and his friends Douglas Luckett, Drew Griffin and Bill Fiser started the band Curfew.
“We were called Curfew because we had to ask our parents if we could break curfew to go play a show at Ground Zero,” Dunavent said.
“We used to rehearse at Lee Academy for the longest of time. Then we ended up rehearsin’ in a house right behind Fiser Realtors. We just had a blast getting to do it.”
Curfew would soon split up when Dunavent moved with his mother to Philadelphia.
Walters had recently retired from Clarksdale schools, but got the opportunity to teach at the Choctaw tribal schools in Philadelphia. She asked her son if he was ready for an adventure and he readily accepted.
“And I loved it. I really did,” Dunavent said. “I got to get a different touch of Mississippi. I really enjoyed it; the county fair, actually seeing hills and having to use a brake.”
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After graduating high school, Dunavent spent the next two years studying classical guitar at Jones County Junior College.
“It was one of those things that I knew I was not going to be a classical guitarist, so I just learned what I had to learn,” he said.
“Actually, all of that technique is completely thrown out the window because the style of music that I currently play, which is mostly blues, it’s a completely different feel.
“With blues, and a lot of Americana music in general, it’s all about finding yourself, and finding ways to do it.”
Dunavent said when it comes to music theory and striking chords and knowing scales, “I really do not know what I’m playing.
“Like all I know, I’m in this key or that key. I don’t know scales; I don’t know chords. I just play what sounds good.”
And that’s why he loves to play the blues.
“It is freedom and it speaks throughout any language.”
As an example, he’ll point to nights at Ground Zero where he’ll share the stage with foreigners. Yet, they are able to communicate.
“We can literally say, ‘slow blues, key of A, start from the five’ and automatically they know what we’re wanting and they’re able to pick it up.
“That’s why I think that blues is one of those languages that transcends through any given language. It’s like the music language of the world.
“Just being able to get on stage and throw your soul into it... that’s what I love about the blues.”
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There was a semester at Coahoma Community College and a year at Mississippi Delta Community College. There, he studied music and was in the marching band, playing guitar for the halftime shows and tenor drums when they marched.
From there, he advanced to Delta State University in 2007 where he started doing music production and sound engineering.
“Again, my focus turned more towards playing music, rather than studying, so I ended up making some bad choices and I kind of dropped out of school and just started playing,” Dunavent said.
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Now, Dunavent is putting all of his focus on his music.
“I’ve been writing music since I was in seventh grade,” he said. “It’s very broad. I have anything from blues to country to hard rock to pop. You know, that’s one of my biggest things - writing. I think I have a good way of turning a phrase.”
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On Aug. 24, Dunavent and his band, Taylor Made Blues will release “149 Delta” on the Endless Blues label.
Dunavent, the lead guitarist for Taylor Made Blues, along with Seth Hill (bass), George Mumford (drums) and lead singer and rhythm guitarist, Mick Kolassa, play what they have coined as “free range blues” in which they cover a range of blues styles from Chicago to Texas.
Earlier this year, the band released their “Double Standards” album, a compilation of classic blues duets.
Currently, Dunavent is laying down the finishing touches on his first solo album, which is scheduled to be released Oct. 1 on Endless Blues Records.
Dunavent has been recording this month in Evansville, Ind., and Owensboro, Ky., with musicians “Big Jon” (Jon Zukowski, bassist who plays with Bosco France), Danny Erkman (who plays drums with Larry Grisham) and Tommy Stillwell (The Beat Daddys Band) in Stillwell’s home recording studio.
Dunavent and The Evol Love Band will perform at the Sunflower River Blues and Gospel Festival on the main stage at 6 p.m. Aug. 11.
And he’ll also be playing at the 2018 King Biscuit Blues Festival in Helena/West Helena, Ark., in October.
You can reach Danette Banks at email@example.com.