David Hamburger – Fingerstyle Guitar

David Hamburger - Fingerstyle GuitarFingerstyle Guitarist David Hamburger has appeared at Merle Fest and the Kerrville and Philadelphia Folk Festivals, toured with Joan Baez and shared the stage with Dave Van Ronk, Jorma Kaukonen, Tony Trischka, Duke Robillard, Cindy Cashdollar and many others. His guitar, slide guitar and dobro playing can be heard on his solo albums Indigo Rose and David Hamburger Plays Blues, Ballads & a Pop Song and with the Grassy Knoll Boys on their debut CD, Buckeyed Rabbit. David is also a contributing editor to Acoustic Guitar and the author of several books, including the award-winning Beginning Blues Guitar and The Acoustic Guitar Method, also available on DVD from Homespun Tapes. He lives in Austin, Texas.

When I want to sound like I come from a musical background, I tell people that my grandfather was born in Harlem and learned to play stride piano by ear in the Roaring Twenties, all of which is true, if slightly misleading (Harlem used to be a Jewish neighborhood, my grandfather ran an ad agency, not a speakeasy, and he picked up his “popular piano” chops as a freshman in college). My father played piano as well, mostly Tin Pan Alley tunes, Mozart and Chopin, although one of my earliest musical memories is of running around in circles while he played “Malaguena,” until I threw up. (The other is of watching monster muppets on Sesame Street sing “Lulu’s Back in Town.”) I started on the violin in the fourth grade, discovered clawhammer banjo at a groovy New Hampshire summer camp at age 12, and was subtley re-directed towards the guitar by my mom, who thought I’d stand a better chance at parties that way. My first guitar teacher was Lucille Magliozzi, a bluegrass freak and brother to the Car Talk guys, so while my friends were decoding Van Halen’s “Eruption” I was learning fingerpicking and fiddle tunes, rendering the whole guitar/party thing a bit of a wash.

At Wesleyan University I fell in with a bad lot and, to quote Dave Van Ronk, “I wanted to play jazz in the worst way – and I succeeded.” I did, however, also have my first noteworthy gig, backing up Allen Ginsburg at a packed poetry reading my senior year. He was only going to sing a handful of tunes, but when I asked if I should leave the stage in between, he told me, “no, just stay up here and…meditate.” So I did. He was Ginsburg, after all, and gave me a big smooch on the cheek afterwards (very furry, as you might expect).

On to New York City, where I spent the first couple of years gigging with Freedy Johnston and playing on his first record, The Trouble Tree, before embarking on a decade of playing guitar, pedal steel and dobro in the city’s 1990s alt. country scene and serving as de facto house session musician for a couple of indie folk/singer-songwriter labels. Around the same time I wrote an instructional book, Beginning Blues Guitar, which led to me writing for Guitar Player, cranking out a handful more books, becoming a contributing editor to Acoustic Guitar and interviewing people like John Leventhal, Jerry Douglas and Keb’ Mo’. (That first book also wound up selling over 100,000 copies and being translated into French and Japanese, which I thought was pretty cool. After all, who doesn’t want to be known as the author of “Debutante Blues Guitar”?) After a brief stint as a Broadway pit musician and a season playing on the Food Network’s Emeril Live, I headed for Austin, Texas in 2000, where I helped start a hardcore bluegrass band, the Grassy Knoll Boys, and went on tour playing guitar for Joan Baez.

In 2004 I did my first jingle for Austin music house Tequila Mockingbird, a Krispy Kreme radio spot. Since then I’ve continued to freelance for Tequila and for Duotone Audio Group in New York, scoring commercials for Wendy’s, Autozone, Milkbone, Breakstone’s and AARP, while working directly with agencies and directors on spots and PSAs for the Lance Armstrong Foundation, the Texas Department of Transportation and others. In 2009 I began working in film, scoring When I Rise, a feature-length documentary which premiered at the 2010 South By Southwest Film Festival, and Wild Texas Weather, which has been screening six times a day, six days a week at the Bob Bullock Texas State History Museum since the fall of 2009.

In 2010 I began working with the Austin-based production company Megalomedia, scoring the one-hour reality show pilot Quintuplet Surprise, which aired on TLC in April of that year. Since then I have worked with Megalomedia on two seasons of the resulting series “Quintuplets By Surprise,” also on TLC, the first season of “Heavy” and, most recently, the first season of Shipping Wars (both on A&E) . I can also be heard every week playing banjo on the theme to the History Channel show “Swamp People,” and my music is frequently heard on the Outdoor Channel, the Green Channel, Discovery Science and, of course, the Playboy Channel’s “Search For The Perfect Girlfriend.”

But more to the point, I once played on a Springsteen remake of “The Ghost of Tom Joad.” Now me and the Boss are like this, despite the fact that, through the magic of the studio, we’ve never actually met.

Visit DavidHamburgerMusic.com