According to NO DEPRESSION, "David Ullman sings with a passion and clarity that belies his relative rookie status." His latest album, LIGHT THE DARK, is hailed by the same authority on roots music as "both striking and sincere. Every track reflects the strength of an artist possessed, one benefitting from both confidence and craft. There’s nothing halfway or compromising about what Ullman does; he puts his all into every offering and the results bear that out, even on first hearing."
A moody mix of haunted hymns, blasphemous ballads, and folk-rock redemption songs, LIGHT THE DARK was recently released in a limited-edition LP/CD combo package on Ullman's own label, Dreaming Out Loud Records, and the singer-songwritter is currently plotting a summer tour--with confirmed dates in Akron (Ohio), New York City, and Chicago.
Originally from Northeast Ohio, Ullman’s emotionally intelligent and unabashedly candid debut, DOG DAYS (2008), was deemed “exquisitely beautiful” and “intensely rich” by Cleveland music critics. The region’s concertgoers were introduced to Ullman over the course of the more than 300 shows he played in support of the album, as well as its singles/EPs “Deja Vu” (2007) and “Secondhand” (2009) and the live “Green Bootleg” UNPLUGGED @ UNCORKED (2010).
Building a devoted fan base one passionate, furrow-browed performance at a time, the now 33-year-old Ullman began playing clubs, coffeehouses and bars in and around Kent, Ohio in 2005 while finishing college and working twelve-hour-nights in a plastics factory. He’s since left both factory and college life behind, relocating to Northfield, Minnesota and taking his tattered green Doc Martens and his bloodied, battered Martin guitar on the road.
“One of the benefits of beginning your music career in a college town is that, after they graduate, the students who’ve made up your audience either return to where they’re from or move someplace new,” Ullman says. “I’m fortunate to have supporters in some pretty cool places.”
Regardless of the setting, whether it’s opening for acts like Need To Breathe, Chelsea Crowell, Iris DeMent, Hamell On Trial, or Rusted Root on theater and club stages; returning to his old stomping grounds to play in the Kent State Folk Festival; headlining his own annual gig in Ohio at Akron’s Musica; or a private house concert, Ullman’s most valuable asset is his ability to relate to an audience.
Listeners easily identify with the extreme highs, the obliterating lows and the hazy in-betweens reflected in his songs. Slightly gravelly vocals, which crescendo from the barest whisper to a barely-controlled roar, lend Ullman’s earnest and raw confessions a grace and sincerity rarely found in today’s music.
“For me,” he says, “even though I might sing about intense, sad-sounding subjects, the goal is always to transcend the darkness by giving voice to it. It’s catharsis. I don’t usually sing songs when I’m happy. I guess you could say I sing sad songs to get happy.”
David Ullman - voice & acoustic guitar
Light The Dark (Limited-Edition LP/CD) 2012
Unplugged @ Uncorked 5.09.2009 (Live Album) 2010
Secondhand (Single/Ep) 2009
Dog Days (LP) 2008
Déjà Vu (Single/Ep) 2006
David Ullman: The TVD Interview
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By Amber Patrick Northeastern Ohio native David Ullman is trying like hell to release his next al...By Amber Patrick
Northeastern Ohio native David Ullman is trying like hell to release his next album on vinyl. “I’m hardwired to write, perform, record and release music,” says Ullman in his RocketHub video. “For me, if you’re going to release music in this day and age of digital downloads, that’s not real to me. Music on this [holds up MP3 player] is not as real as this [holds up a 12"]. We have relationships with the records we love. By putting out a vinyl record, I can connect with people that appreciate vinyl records.”
Here’s the TVD exclusive on David’s “first albums,” why he chose to partner with RocketHub to fuel his vinyl dream, and his thoughts on the lineup for this evening’s Beachland Ballroom & Tavern show that will serve as the last big push towards funding his album.
How long have you been making music?
I guess I first started making music when I was 7 or 8 and off and on since then. But since 2004 or 2005, I’ve started playing out under my own name.
When did you decide that you enjoyed singing?
Oh, well, that’s probably around that 7-to-8 period. I saw the movie La Bamba and shortly after that, the Buddy Holly story about the fifties rock ‘n’ rollers, and that really got me going. My dad played guitar, and he taught me how to play Buddy Holly songs when I was that age. I used to make tapes in my bathroom.
Aw, that’s cool!
I was a big weirdo. [laughs] Sounds cool now, but as a 7-to-8-year-old it was a weird thing to do. Those were my first albums, you could say. I used to draw little covers for the tapes based on Christian rock or pop tapes my parents had. I haven’t thought about that in a long time. I’d love to see one of those tapes now…
What do you think brought you back towards music after you dabbled in making movies?
I think that the main thing was I got married young and divorced very soon there after. And suddenly I found myself with a lot to express, and music was such an immediate way of release. When I had that dramatic life change at 24, I had a lot to say for myself, a lot to sort out. Music provided a great sort of healing and release for me. Since then, I’ve really had the main motive of sorting the world out and expressing myself.
Are there any vocalists that you would cite as inspirations?
I really respond to the dynamic singers, that can sing a song softly and in the next moment be bellowing or screaming. That appeals to my sense of drama and relief. I also really like Glen Hansard from the Frames; I’ve gotten into Bruce Springsteen a lot in this last year; I love Bono a lot as a singer. I don’t have a lot of obscure references. Trent Reznor. I love his attack. I love anything that musically feels like a kick in the balls. That’s what I aspire to do for myself, to sing with a passion that can’t be ignored.
Let’s talk a little bit about your project. What prompted your decision to go with RocketHub to fund your album?
I actually chose RocketHub because I heard an interview on a do-it-yourself music podcast with one of the cofounders, Brian Meece. He was talking about the platform and how he started it up as a musician and was one of the pilot projects. I really responded to his story, which was basically the same as mine, as somebody who continued to play music throughout their life and felt the need to share it with people but was never in the place where it was a sustainable enterprise. But the way that he focused on the audience you already have, I think that musicians can get easily obsessed with growing a support base, and you can forget how precious the ones you’ve already garnered can be. Also he talked about what he found people to be responsive to in his project: perseverence. I just really responded to RocketHub’s whole approach to the whole thing, which was really inclusive and personal.
The show lineup is really interesting. What can we expect?
I think you can expect a very unique evening. The show is curated by Terry Durst. I think it was his goal to put together a bill of eclectic acts. He’s seen a lot of shows at the Beachland, and I think for him it was kind of the intent to try to put together a bill that doesn’t make sense in as obvious a way. I’m trying to prepare a unique set. I used to play once a week for the last few years. For the last nine months or so, I stopped doing that because I felt like I wasn’t growing as much from it, and I felt like it was costing me opportunities. It’s kind of a new and exciting thing for me to make sure that each of my performances are unique and different. I think unique and different and eclectic are all words that apply to the lineup.
I feel very proud to garner his approval so early. My first show there, he was working the door, and he was really complimentary. And I thought, “Wow! What a cool thing to have happen.” That’s a very sought-after venue by performers in this area and around the country. It’s a cool place. To have someone there take such an interest in me has been really gratifying. I’m just grateful to be a part of it and looking forward to giving people a hell of a show.
Cleveland, if you’re looking for somewhere to be tonight, we strongly suggest you head out to the Beachland Ballroom & Tavern and catch the eclectic lineup of The Giggitys, David Ullman, and Miss Firecracker. Let’s help one of our own reach his dream of pressing vinyl! And for all you out-of-town folks, if you were touched by David’s story, please support him on his quest to make an album by visiting his RocketHub project site.
Kent State Folk Festival: Failed coverage (almost)
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By Ty Kellogg When I originally agreed to cover some of the Kent State Folk Festival ‘Round Town ...By Ty Kellogg
When I originally agreed to cover some of the Kent State Folk Festival ‘Round Town activity, I envisioned running amuck in downtown Kent, hopping from coffee shop to coffee shop, bar to bar, shaking hands and talking music with the people who are responsible for the craft the festival celebrates. However, this didn’t happen.
I rolled into Kent from the northwest area of Columbus, hitting town about around 8:30 p.m. and running on fumes after a work trip. I parked my car and met up with a gal that I haven’t seen in years, and we proceeded to strike the town in our effort to encompass the folk festival feeling.
Our first stop was Scribbles, an independently-owned coffee shop on Water Street. Playing that evening was David Ullman, a furrow-browed, sweatin’, sad bastard of a singer-songwriter who has played the Kent-Akron-Cleveland circuit for years. To listen to Ullman, one must have an attuned ear because Ullman is a very intelligent songwriter who is willing to experiment, as shown by his use of a loop pedal and electric bass. But don’t let his shy and polite demeanor fool you; he can go from a sweet whisper to a lion-like roar in a matter of seconds.
The room was hot and steam was rising on the windows during the comfortably brisk September evening. The bodies were packed like sardines. People in chairs were sitting on each other’s laps and sitting on the floor, against the wall and behind the counter. When someone left the room, there was an instant rush to fill the seat, and then two more people would emerge to lean against the wall I leaned upon. My date and I left the room as Ullman orchestrated the crowd into his frenzied sing-a-long, “Mulletman.”
We walked down the street, feeling the autumn breeze float over the Cuyahoga and into our lungs. Since I graduated from Kent, the folk festival has always brought a nostalgic feeling to me. I, myself, played in the event two years in a row and helped several other musicians get involved; and, of course, I supported any fellow musician I knew was participating.
My date and I made a brief stop at the Brewhouse Pub, based upon the fact we thought the Hive Robbers (whom I had never heard of) was a cool enough name to warrant a visit. Taking many elements from folk groups The Avett Brothers and Mumford and Sons, these young guns played the expected twangy, angst-filled, minor-chord, sing-a-longs that is expected of folk acts today. The difference I saw is that they were all smiling as they played and sang, abandoning the serious songwriter stance while driving the crowd into a drunken, dancing fury. Although I would not call myself a fan, I was very happy to see a group who has as much fun playing music as I do. As we left the room, I grabbed a handful of dry popcorn for the walk down the street.
Off to Ray’s place we went, where historically Kent's own well-traveled phenoms, The Speedbumps, have played until the late hours. (Note: When attending the folk festival, please read the program guide.) As we walked up the stairs and made the dramatic turn to see who was playing, I was surprised to not see the ‘bumps lead singer Erik Uryicki singing “Potato Famine.” What we walked into was an absolutely inebriated crowd of my parent’s age, dancing and bouncing frantically to the styles of Mo’ Mojo.
I bought our first drinks and, from that point forward, we became entranced by the fiddle, saxophone and bass. The female lead vocals pierced the noise of crowd and overrode the sounds of the taps flowing Great Lakes Octoberfest to the thirsty crowd. At some point, there was a long, dizzying rendition of “When the Saints Go Marching In,” in conjunction with Hank Williams “Jimbalaya.” It didn’t take long for me to start to tap my toes, shake my hips, clutch my drink tightly as I twirled my date in circles.
This is where I remained the rest of the evening. At some point, my date and I made our way back to our vehicles. And instead of driving our separate ways, we sat on the curb, breathing in the fresh night air and enjoying the release of tension, the release of pain and the flush of joy that music brings to us. Or maybe we were just drunk and didn’t want to go home; didn’t want the night to end. It is with regret that, eventually, I made it home and went to bed. Even though the external music stopped when I fell asleep, the pulsating rhythms in my mind, my heart and soul continue to beat and keep cadence.
David Ullman launches “Green Bootleg” live CD/download series October 30th at Uncorked Wine Bar in Akron
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David Ullman celebrates the release of his first “Green Bootleg” live recording with a free, unampli...David Ullman celebrates the release of his first “Green Bootleg” live recording with a free, unamplified performance at Uncorked Wine Bar (22 N. High St) beginning at 8:00pm in Akron on October 30th
“He didn’t want to hear (the album); he wanted to experience (the music) first and foremost live,” David Ullman says, introducing a song on Unplugged @ Uncorked. Ullman is referring to a friend he took to a Damien Rice concert in 2004, but the same can be said of the singer’s own preference for the way he wishes audiences to first encounter his own music.
An outgrowth of Ullman’s online “Bootleg Blog,” the “Green Bootleg” series takes its name from the furrow-browed folk-rocker’s signature forest-green Doc Martens and extends to the eco-friendly packaging of the performances on CD.
All of the “authorized” bootlegs bear Ullman’s “stamp of approval.” Each of the limited run of 100 CDs are hand-stamped, numbered and stuffed into cardboard wallets made from 100 % post-consumer recycled stock.
Ullman also offers members of his mailing list a complimentary download of the live album and encourages listeners to share the link on social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter.
“When I was a teenager, I used to buy and trade Jewel and Pearl Jam bootlegs on cassette tape and later CD,” Ullman says. “These days, though, it seems most people download music That’s why I asked one of my more tech-savvy friends to ‘seed’ the album on open source file-sharing applications.”
“I don’t want to spend my time hounding program directors trying to get my songs on the radio. I’d much rather spend that time writing and performing. The hope is that by making my music as easily attainable as possible it will find its way to music fans that will appreciate it.”
Ullman is currently writing songs for a follow-up to his 2008 full-length debut Dog Days and plans to release two more “Green Bootlegs” in 2011.
“Much of my new material will likely appear on a live release before the completion of my next studio album. I suppose that’s the whole point.”
David Ullman releases new album [CD release write-up]
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[Rittman] native, singer/songwriter David Ullman, held an album release party for his new CD, "Dog D...[Rittman] native, singer/songwriter David Ullman, held an album release party for his new CD, "Dog Days," on Saturday, February 23 at Musica in Akron.
Ullman is an artist on Dreaming Out Loud Records.
He performed at the release party, where an estimated 200+ listeners showed up to hear his soulful tunes.
While those who attended were required to pay a $10 entrance fee, they did receive a copy of the new release at the event.
While opening acts Abby Kondas and Brian Ullman played at 8 p.m. and 9:45 p.m., Ullman took the stage with his band, The Sad Bastards, around 10:30 and played older songs, cover songs, and several tracks from the new release. These songs included "Begin," "Secondhand," "Half-light," "Let Go," and "Deja Vu".
While the band took a break, violinist Samuel Salsbury accompanied Ullman on "Start Anew" and "Unspoken" from the new album.
Ullman, 28, now lives in Cleveland and will be graduating from Kent State University in May 2008.
For more information about his music, visit www.davidullman.net.
"Dog Days" CD Review
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By Peter Chakerian (Cool Cleveland Managing Editor) There's something familiar and comforting ab...By Peter Chakerian (Cool Cleveland Managing Editor)
There's something familiar and comforting about David Ullman's first full-length effort, Dog Days. And perhaps even something familial. Listening to his 11-track release feels like running into an old friend after many years and sharing a moment over coffee. With a decidedly Triple-A format sound (acoustic folk with poignant electric decoration) and an approach that summons Damien Rice and Dog's Eye View frontman Peter Stuart, Ullman goes straight for the heart; his coffeehouse style is exquisitely flattering.
Deft wordplay, intimate introspection and a focus on relationships emerge early on, with Ullman crooning I need a secondhand heart/ Only slightly ripped apart/ I need someone who will always be around/ Unrequited from the start/ Feel I was born to play the part/ Give me someone who will never let me down. on "Secondhand Heart." Ullman's got a toasty voice, chock full of emotion and the musical arrangements and high-quality production do well to push it front and center. As a result, cuts like "Begin," "Déjà Vu," "Half-Light" and brilliantly silky, heartbroken "Coming To" simply smolder. More espresso than latte, Dog Days is deep, dark and intensely rich. Worth a refill, to be sure.
From A Whisper To A Scream
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By Dan Kane (Repository Entertainment Editor) David Ullman is a bracing alternative on the someti...By Dan Kane (Repository Entertainment Editor)
David Ullman is a bracing alternative on the sometimes sleepy coffeehouse circuit.
“I tend to vary between singing very softly one moment to bellowing and hollering the next,” the Kent-based singer-songwriter says.
Tonight from 8 to 11, Ullman will perform at Muggswigz Coffee & Tea Co. at 137 Walnut Ave. NE in downtown Canton. The last time he played there, some enthusiastic members joined him onstage.
Because many people go to coffeehouses to socialize or study, Ullman, 27, says it “makes it all the more fulfilling when I’m able to reach them.
“The fact that some of the audience is not there to see me perform can be a bit awkward sometimes. If they are there for the music, the proximity tends to heighten the intimacy of the songs.”
About his diverse collection of original songs, Ullman says, “Some tend to be very mellow and reserved, while others are loud and edgy. It’s not uncommon for all of that to be going on in one song.”
Ullman, who accompanies himself on guitar, felt the songwriting urge early on.
“I wrote songs as a kid, inspired by ‘50s rock and roll,” he recalls. “Then, about 13 years later, I found myself playing music with a few friends. Everyone was writing songs, and I wanted to contribute. I wrote a couple of tunes for that project, and that got me in the mindset. Two of the songs I wrote while in that band have ended up on the CD I’ve been recording, which should come out by year’s end.”
From the sound of it, Ullman’s songwriting can be therapeutic. “Most all of my songs mean a great deal to me,” he says. “Many have been borne out of some sort of trauma; and as such, were integral to my working through whatever was eating me.”
To sample Ullman’s music and see a video, visit www.myspace.com/davidullmanmusic and www.davidullman.net
'Deja Vu' CD Review
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By Jana Pochop Deja Vu is a strong EP from David Ullman, or as he calls himself, the "sad b-a-s-...By Jana Pochop
Deja Vu is a strong EP from David Ullman, or as he calls himself, the "sad b-a-s-t-a-r-d solo singer-songwriter" (dashes added by author to avoid you all seeing "*******"!). I always thought it was funny that if any other professional staked a claim with a tag-line like "Barry Smith -- sad b-a-s-t-a-r-d accountant!" ... that would probably not go over so well. But for a folk singer? It's perfect. Ullman delivers on his tag line with some sweet-yet melancholy tunes as well as one that lives up to the ... well, the b-a-s-t-a-r-d part. But it works well.
The title track is a sing-alongable lament with snappy guitar work and tight production. Deja Vu would stand head to head with any Howie Day or Matt Nathanson tune and fit right in, though David's music has that tinge of loneliness that makes it easy to relate. (Well, I think most people would relate. Maybe I'm just bitter and lonely). "I can feel it coming 'round again, love, begin just to end again," captures that inevitable feeling of "been there done that we're doomed" in a new relationship.
Deja Vu transitions well into "Secondhand," in which Ullman pleas, "I need a secondhand heart, only slightly ripped apart ... give me someone who will never let me down." He's not asking a whole lot in the grand scheme of things, and the humbleness works within the subtle desperation. Again the production works well with the song, adding a ringing acoustic melody and good percussive beat toUllman's strong vocals that are almost reminiscent of the vocal quality of Sting (in a good way).
"Snakebit" ... this song has the line, "I hate to complain, I know I got it good" -- but then it rips into a plethora of observations and complaints about the world at large. Ullman's just doing his job as a songwriter with this track, pointing out all the incongruousness of life in an interesting way. Following suit but getting more specific, the last track, "Mulletman," ("He's so handsome, sugar sweet, treats you like a piece of meat") is a nice lambasting of those jerks who know they can get any girl and are even jerkier because of it. It's a song borne of jealousy but could also actually serve as a public service announcement. Listen to David, girls. Guys like Mulletman aren't worth it, and if you can get your dose of reality in an entertaining way from David Ullman's closing track, all the better. Ullman ultimately offers up a good slice of life on this acoustic EP, and a little "sad b-a-s-t-a-r-d" never hurt anyone ... it just might help get you through the day.
"Recently I visited a local club to see a pretty good band. Now I can't remember who it was I went to see. The opening act, David Ullman, was that good. Dark and powerful, David is reminiscent of a tuneful Leonard Cohen embarking on what just might be a storied musical journey. David's voice soars and dives in counterpoint to the accompaniment, gets in your head and stays there. I can't wait to see where this journey leads. Come on along." - Steve Traina (WCSB 89.3fm)
"David's set at The Beachland last night will live forever in my mind. There were times I felt scared for him up there, generating that much power, force and emotion - taking things to extremes and never faltering. It was a transcendent experience. It was inspirational to see such a generation of power and force handled with such skill and intent. Truly, one of the most exciting performances I have seen." - Terry Durst
"Everything he sang just tore through me!" - Breanne George
"To listen to Ullman, one must have an attuned ear because Ullman is a very intelligent songwriter who is willing to experiment, as shown by his use of a loop pedal and electric bass. But don’t let his shy and polite demeanor fool you; he can go from a sweet whisper to a lion-like roar in a matter of seconds." - Ty Kellogg
"His performances are AMAZING!!! My personal favorite is definately the crowd pleaser "Science-Fiction Double-Feature Picture Show" from Rocky Horror. But all of his songs leave you utterly impressed and wanting more (like with "Mulletman" and "Deja Vu"). Whenever and wherever the next performance is...this guy deserves an audience!!!" - Rebecca Grabski
"I've only seen him once, and I can tell you he's awesome. Keep on rockin, David!" - Renee Egler
"Ullman’s most valuable asset is his ability to relate to his audience. Every person who has ever attempted anything resembling a relationship can relate to the extreme highs, the obliterating lows, and the hazy feelings in between that Ullman hits in his songs." - Brittany Brown
"Definitely top shelf.... Coldplay's got nothing on this guy" - Carlos Jones
"David sings songs about relevant topics that the audience can relate to. He played his music with a passion that is not always found in musicians. David sings beautifully and is poetic in his lyrics. His voice is melodic with a unique edge to it. When David sings you can feel the pain in his sad songs and the joy and ecstasy in his happier songs. If you have the chance to see David Ullman do it. I have a feeling that you will be as delighted as I was." - Deborah Rosenblum
|Aug 15, 2013 Thursday||8:00 PM||Musica||Akron, OH, US|
|Aug 16, 2013 Friday||8:00 PM||The Living Room||New York, NY, US|
|$10 suggested donation|
|Aug 17, 2013 Saturday||9:00 PM||The Elbo Room||Chicago, IL, US|