Dave Rawlings Machine: Pilgrim’s Progress

Dave Rawlings and Gillian Welch dish on the writing of Nashville Obsolete.

At Berklee, he studied under Professor Lauren Passarelli, Berklee’s first female guitar instructor who would also later teach Annie Clark, otherwise known as St. Vincent. “Dave already had a lovely musical sensibility when he came to study with me,” she says. “At the time I was one of the only guitar faculty who was also a singer-songwriter. We greatly enjoyed each other’s company. We shared a deep affection for thoughtful, expressive, melodic, guitar players like George Harrison, Pat Metheny, and James Taylor. I loved working with Dave because he was mature, musical, and open to genuine expression.”   Welch and Rawlings’ first album as Gillian Welch, Revival, came in 1996, which, like Hell Among The Yearlings, was produced by T Bone Burnett. Welch, in particular, was lobbed with some criticism for singing the mountain or murder song but not actually living it, having grown up in Los Angeles and not Appalachia. Now, that seems a comical argument: there are more fiddles in Brooklyn than punk-rock distortion pedals, and modern “Americana” as we know it (which Welch and Rawlings could easily be called founding members of) doesn’t require any sort of Southern birthright for active participation. Just ask Mumford & Sons.…

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