is the grass any bluer...

is the grass any bluer...
on the other side?

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Who Sings Both Rock AND Opera? Dr. Dave Dampier, That's WHO !

Photo courtesy of Hilary Brown
Lexington is a crossroads for all sorts of lifestyles and culture, but especially for music, and every now and again, we have the pleasure of watching an artist make the crossover from say, bluegrass to rock, or vice versa, like JP Pennington, for example, when he wrote songs for Exile, they were recorded by Alabama, then Exile 'went country,' and the band went on to sell millions of records in the country genre.

There are countless other stories within our community, though, and here we have one about to make us say, "aahhh...."

Photo of TOMMY cast and AGL Artistic Director, Eric Seale, courtesy of Tom Eisenhauer Photography
Indeed, the criss-cross of local musical leanings has been going on for years, jazz and blues, country and rock, bluegrass to rockabilly -- but it's always cool to see it in progress.  Dave Dampier, who will be returning to perform in AGL's Tommy: The Encore, but also has roles in Bluegrass Opera's two upcoming world premieres, is one talented case in point.

Dampier will be reprising his role in Tommy on Sunday at the new MoonDance ampitheatre, but what you may not know is that he also is rehearsing with Bluegrass Opera for two upcoming performances at Singletary Center for the Arts the following week.  So I wanted to see how he's managing to rehearse for all three shows at the same time.

Dave says, "It's not the rehearsals, it's the work schedule WITH the rehearsals WITH the ongoing renovations at Ravensong Refuge. The trick is: I don't take time to eat or sleep and Tommy only gets one rehearsal (if I can work that out)."

His roles are similar, even though the musical styles could not be more different.  "In Tommy I play The Doctor. He is self absorbed, cocky, and driven by money.  I, hopefully, have none of these attributes, so I've had to take cues from some nameless people I know (you don't know who you are)," he laughs.

The biggest challenge for him seems to be remaining the humble person that Dave Dampier is.  "Oddly, in Sutures and Love, I play a doctor (ah, typecast again).  He, too, is self assured if not cocky, and driven by money, but not by his own greed (you'll have to see the show to see how that works). In With Such Friends, I play a pompous Aristocrat who can be childishly petty." 

"This seems to be the season of arrogant characters for me. I hope it doesn't rub off on my life.  The biggest challenge of these works is the very high range of the tenor parts.  I'm being asked to hit notes that I couldn't hit BEFORE puberty, let alone in my middle age.  Lorne (Dechtenberg, one of the founders of Bluegrass Opera and composer of Sutures and Love) has been a great inspiration, working with me in off hours to find ways to get to the notes and help me catch up from the rehearsals I've had to miss.  He's a bona fide genius, and a truly great person."

After Bluegrass Opera's concerts have come and gone, he is "looking to perform a lot of renovation and hard labor at Ravensong Refuge (see below for more information about his sanctuary for the artistic) in my ongoing attempt to get her ready for guests.  With my work schedule, I can't really make plans for future shows, although there are at least a couple I'd like to work out this season."

When I asked him for a bio to share with his fans, he joked, "Fans? Where? My parents already know too much about me."

Finally, does Dave Dampier have a secret talent and will he share it with my KimmyVille readers?   "It's no real secret that I'm a great cook, but only a few people have been able to experience that pleasure. I've also been told that I have some talent as a photographer but it would be arrogant for me to say that. You can judge for your self with the pictures I've posted on my facebook page or on the Ravensong Refuge page.  ... I hope I've helped deepen the enigma."

As always, Dave Dampier leaves us in a cloud of breathless mystery. 

If you have not seen Tommy, don't miss this opportunity to see the Johnson Brothers and AGL's spectacular ensemble present The Who classic this Sunday as they christen the new MoonDance venue in Beaumont Centre.  I will have more information upcoming about Bluegrass Opera's exciting back to back presentations of two world premiere operas coming up soon here in KimmyVille as well! 


RAVENSONG mission:   To provide a peaceful sanctuary to the artistically minded for the purpose of emotional, mental and spiritual renewal.
Ravensong is located in Harrison County, 40 miles north of Lexington.
<><>Summer's just about ready to make its final bow...but the stages are just heating up!  See you at the shows :)
<><>peace, y'all -- 

Bluegrass Opera presents:
World Premiere Double-Header 2.0:
With Such Friends...
Music by Tom Schnauber, Libretto by Jeff Duncan
& Sutures and Love
by Lorne Dechtenberg

With Such Friends... is based on Nikolai Gogol's humorous short story The Squabble. Its amusing story follows two Russian noblemen whose tempers cause a simple disagreement to escalate far beyond any reasonable level. An excerpt from the opera was included in the New York City Opera’s VOX 2007 festival, but the work has never been performed in its entirety. Both Schnauber and Duncan will be coming to Lexington for the premiere!

Sutures and Love features music and libretto by Lorne Dechtenberg. Loosely based on Richard Sheridan’s classic play School for Scandal, the opera was previously titled Sex, Drugs, and Aliens. The work tells the story of a cosmetic surgery clinic and the events that take place there one fateful day. Under its earlier name, excerpts from the opera were presented in a workshop recital at the University of Houston, but the complete work has never been seen by any audience!

Note: This program, while funny, includes mature subject matter
that may not be appropriate for all audience members.

<>Please visit for more information!

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