Dave Cipriani
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Dave Cipriani

Thousand Oaks, California, United States | SELF

Thousand Oaks, California, United States | SELF
Band Folk Acoustic

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Review of Live Performance,
Originally published June 12, 2008
“Dave Cipriani plays Frederick one last time”

He starts with slow, spacey riffs, as if the song is drifting in and out of consciousness.

"I'm Dave Cipriani," he says, "and I'm going to play a ridiculously eclectic set."

The 20-string Indian guitar gets louder, and from the loose, meditative notes, a melody begins to form.

It's "Norwegian Wood." (Because what would a show played on an Indian guitar be without it?) In the huge window behind his head, a bird flies past as he sings.

The Frederick Coffee Company filled with teenagers and adults, sipping coffee and munching on sandwiches.

Other than befriending Satabdi Express on MySpace and using their "Dirt Man" as my profile song, I knew little about the band or Cipriani, its leader, just that they had Indian influences and used a slide guitar. I missed the band when they last came through town and almost missed Cipriani this time, too, had I not been at the coffee shop the night before and recommended to catch the solo show.

I didn't know, until I arrived to hear him, that this would be his last show here. He's moving from Baltimore to California in August to study music in graduate school. "I'm just so happy about it, it's ridiculous," he said.

Because of a "combination of a lot of things," including hurting his left hand, Cipriani learned to play slide, which led him to try the droning sound and alternate tunings of Indian music, which he'd always liked.

"Also, I'm a meditator," he said, "so I was drawn to the spiritual aspect of it. ... Indian music is very deep and very holistic in some sense. They sort of make a place for every emotion."

He said he's influenced by Coltrane, too, whose songs on "A Love Supreme" are constructed based on Indian music, without the Indian accent, he explained.
His 20-string Indian slide guitar was made for him by a man in India, where Cipriani has visited three times (he went the first time to study Buddhism, and then to learn the culture's music). He said the Indian slide guitar is not a common instrument, even in India.

Cipriani met his guitar teacher in New York, five years ago. Before that, he learned classical and jazz guitar in college and studied under Charlie Byrd (I could definitely hear some influences there) and Christopher Parkening. Cipriani was selected for the Individual Artist Award in Solo Instrumental Performance from the Maryland State Arts Council, as well as the Individual Artist Award from the Baltimore Office of Promotions and the Arts, both in 2006.

The key ingredient of his performance was the drone box, which is usually played by another person, he explained, but it's a little inconvenient to carry that person around with you). I never knew these things existed, but they have the ability to turn any music into Indian music -- at least on a superficial level. Add Indian scales and tunings, which Cipriani did, and the sound becomes more authentic.

"There's a lot of different traditions," he said. "I mean, India's a huge country. There are an infinite number of scales, but it's also very grounded in tradition. They actually claim the music goes back three to five thousand years, depending on who you're talking to."

After "Norwegian Wood," Cipriani gave us some comic relief, as he did after most of his songs.

"This is actually a country waltz," he said, "that I wrote in India."

He played only the first two songs with the 20-string, then switched to a 6-string. We all secretly hoped he'd eventually bring out the 20-string again, but he never did.

He did an original, "Everybody Thinks He's Crazy" ("I could watch the grass grow with her," he sang), and began chanting -- the first of the night. Each chanting episode grew with intensity.

He continued with a few more love songs, with more sentimental yet fresh lyrics:

"Why do you hide all the sunshine and flowers in your eyes?"

He managed surprising but not abrupt changes, yet kept with melodies that sounded familiar, the way all classical music is familiar. As unorthodox as his songs got, none of it sounded wrong.

"The way the sun makes a halo around your head, I could stand here blind and forget the things you said," he sang.

I noticed he held the 6-string guitar more upright than an average player, the way a sitar is positioned. I wondered if this, too, was an Indian styling he learned while studying their music, or if it helped him in some way while playing that type genre.

He pulled out another slide for "Mystics of Hampden," and said he has about 20 of them at home: ceramic for classical, stainless steel for acoustic or electric, "super heavy" for the 20-string...

"What about glass?" someone asked, seated at a table. No glass.

Cipriani's playing styles varied from the meditative to the foot-stomping "Going to the Valley."

He played Nick Drake's "One of These Things First," a personal favorite, then went off on - Frederick News-Post


Discography

as leader:

2008 Satabdi Express, self-released. composer, Indian slide guitar, classical guitar

2005 Dave Cipriani, “America and Other Faraway Places” self-released. composer, solo acoustic, slide & Indian slide guitar

2003 David Cipriani, “faith & doubt” self-released. songwriter, lyricist, arranger, producer, lead vocals, lead, slide & rhythm guitar

1997 Percy’s Little Hotbox, “Guilded House”(cassette), self-released, guitar, vocals, songwriter

on other people's projects:
2007 Sarah Fridrich, “Sarah Fridrich,” various songs, electric guitar

2006 Joanne Juskus, “See Your Face”, various songs, Indian slide and classical guitar

2002 Kelly Bell Band, “Chasing the Sun” songwriter, “Going to the Valley”

compilations:

2010 Calarts Jazz CD
"Raga Shivranjani"

Photos

Bio

Dave Cipriani originally hails from Baltimore, MD but is currently making the Los Angeles area his home. His music is about finding the commonalities in authentic music from around the world.

Dave studied classical guitar in college, and studied jazz with the late jazz/classical pioneer Charlie Byrd. After college, he attended master class with classical guitar virtuoso Christopher Parkening, then later studied indian classical music, first with sitar Maestro Jay Kishor, then later on several trips to India with Indian slide guitar pioneer Pandit Barun Kumar Pal. Dave is completing his MFA in North Indian music at world-renownded California Institute of the Arts, where has been studying Indian classical music with Mastros Ustad Aashish Khan and Pandit Swapan Chaudhuri as well as Balkan/blues/flamenco guitar pioneer Miroslav Tadic, to name a few.