Musician and former pilot Snarky Dave, writing about his experiences and putting them to blues riffs

"Bluesmen aren’t singing about whipping their hair all around or discoing with ducks. These are songs with life messages...truth is truth and that creates it’s staying power."

Snarky Dave: The knowledge of wisdom

Musician and former pilot Dave Brenton, also known as Snarky Dave, plays music in his airplane hangar. Snarky has been there and back...Snarky, who has been playing music for more than 40 years, writing about his life experiences and putting them to modern blues riffs. As his name states, this guy is a true Snarky a$$...but he comes by it honestly and his Snarkcasm is sprinkled throughout his work.

"Blues is truth…blues is entertainment…blues is easy to participate in and crosses most boundaries. Our culture evolves based on experience and communication."

Snarky Dave & The Prickly Bluesmen's debut album "Big Snark" (2013) is bookended with an electric version and an acoustic version of the same song ... "Caucasian Blues" & "Caucoustic Blues" ... meant to be a light-hearted look at a downward plunge in economic and romantic conditions. The list continues with a couple of kick-ass rockin' blues songs. The second cut "Bitchin'" is a tongue and cheek testament to the mental condition of many married men. Cut four "Mother and I" is a personal one that Snarky Dave had a hard time recording and listening to. These tunes were meant to have messages....see if you can find them. Let the Snark begin!

Snarky talks about the Last Supper, Delaware blues scene, Robert Randolph & The Family Band, the wisdom of owl and his dog, Champion.

Interview by Michael Limnios

What do you learn about yourself from the Blues culture and what does the “Blues” mean to you?

We all share life experience. ‘Blues” is the medium I use to share it.

How do you describe Snarky Dave’s songs and images and what characterize your music philosophy?

Snarky Dave songs have a life message and I try to invoke the listeners Imagination through the lyrics,

It’s a form of universal communication that strives to move the soul.

"I have no doubt blues will continue to evolve as a great communication medium that continues to relay life experience to the next generation."

What experiences in your life have triggered your ideas most frequently for your songs and music?

I think most songwriters draw from their Love / life experiences for Ideas. My triggers are no different, lost love/found love…lost blessings/ found blessings…and of course People watching!

Which was the best and worst moment of your career? Which is the most interesting period in your life?

The Best was the first time a band member told me “we should be learning your songs” There are so many worst moments I can’t pick one, and would rather not focus on that kind negativity. The most interesting period of my life is right now! Yesterday is gone, tomorrow is a promise. Time is precious, Got to make the best of NOW!  

Which memory makes you smile? Are there any Blues memories which you’d like to share with us?

Memories of my kids having fun make me smile. I share Blues memories in my tunes with everyone. But, I’ll give you one: It’s 9:30pm and I’m sick with pneumonia and I think I’m gonna die. But, I have my dog, Champion, for company. There’s a knock at the door, very unusual. I answer it to find a cop standing there to hand me a summons. I go back to my sick chair, grab a guitar, and the song “Pick It Up” falls out of my hands and mouth.

"We all share life experience. ‘Blues” is the medium I use to share it."

What do you miss most nowadays from the Blues of past? How has the blues changed over the years?

Its simplicity. The old blue’s greats typically played out of tune guitars and sang and that’s all they had to do to create this wonderful genre we call the blues. How has it changed over the years: that is a loaded question…it has constantly evolved from early gospel to what we hear today.  We can write a book on that.

Some music stars can be fads but the bluesmen are always with us. What means to be “Bluesman”?

Bluesmen aren’t singing about whipping their hair all around or discoing with ducks. These are songs with life messages….truth is truth and that creates it’s staying power.

Make an account of the case of Delaware Blues scenes. What is the difference between the other Blues scenes?

Blues has always been popular in Delaware and recently there has been an explosion of Blues Societies, ie Diamond State Blues Society, Central Delaware Blues Society. For a small state, we seem to have a lot of blues organizations. I believe in every 2 square miles in Delaware, there’s a blues group in a basement somewhere playing some Robert Johnson, Eric Clapton or B.B.King. For the 30 years that I’ve been involved, I’ve met so many talented blues musicians in this state and the enthusiasm for the blues is so strong, that I believe soon, we will emerge as yet another blues powerhouse location in this country.

You have an owl as logo (Greek symbol of knowledge). Where did you get that idea?

Been doing this over 35 years, I’d like to say I’ve learned from all of them which should give me that knowledge. Truth be known, I spent a lot of time living and living instead of living and learning. But, like most people, after life gives you a few lumps in the head, you start to pay attention. I come to the table as an old guy….I hope the owl logo helps me build a brand that denotes some wisdom is coming your way.

What's the legacy of Blues in the world culture and civilization? What are your hopes and fears for the future?

Blues is truth….blues is entertainment….blues is easy to participate in and crosses most boundaries. Our culture evolves based on experience and communication. I am constantly amazed at just how many young people have embraced blues. I have no doubt blues will continue to evolve as a great communication medium that continues to relay life experience to the next generation.

What has made you laugh lately and what touched (emotionally) you from the Blues world?

Robert Randolph & The Family Band takes a typical country music instrument (pedal steel) and demonstrates its place in blues music. I’m waiting for someone to burn up the accordion accompanied by a triangle.

What from your memorabilia and things (books, records, photos etc.) would you put in a "time capsule"?

The Bible, the movie “Idiocracy”, pictures of my kids being happy, Muddy Waters, Robert Johnson, BB King, Jimi Hendrix, Bonnie Raitt, Stevie Ray Vaughn, Eric Clapton…etc. CDs.

"Snarky Dave songs have a life message and I try to invoke the listeners Imagination through the lyrics, It’s a form of universal communication that strives to move the soul."

Why did you think that the Blues Culture continues to generate such a devoted following?

Again, subject matter is true-life experience. As time goes on, we are able to share that experience more freely and faster with new technologies. These life experiences touch us all.

What are the lines that connect the legacy of Blues with the Folk and continue to Americana and beyond?

Standard chord progressions and the truth.

From whom have you have learned the most secrets about the blues? What is the best advice ever given you?

I don’t believe there are secrets. I believe its instinctive. Best advice...Play what you can…well.

Let’s take a trip with a time machine, so where and why would you really wanna go for a whole day..?

A seat at the table with Jesus for the Last Supper…there to witness real truth.

Snarky Dave - official website

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