Dave Kleiner and Liz Pagan
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Dave Kleiner and Liz Pagan

Bloomfield, New Jersey, United States | SELF

Bloomfield, New Jersey, United States | SELF
Band Folk Acoustic


This band hasn't logged any future gigs

This band hasn't logged any past gigs



Dave Kleiner is a folk-influenced singer-songwriter who writes smart, topical songs. He also has experience as a teacher.

David Kleiner is a folk-influenced singer-songwriter who writes smart, topical songs. He also has experience as a teacher.

No, that’s not a misprint. They may share a name and several characteristics, but the two men really are separate people. Proof will come Friday night, when David Kleiner (who hails from the Philadelphia area) will open for Dave Kleiner (a Bloomfield resident) and his wife Liz Pagan at the Morristown Unitarian Fellowship.

This will be the second time the two Kleiners have shared a stage.

“We did a show together in his neck of the woods (near Philadelphia) where I opened for him,” says Dave Kleiner. “This time he’ll be opening for me. It should be interesting to see two guys with the same name onstage.”

The Morristown concert is part of The Minstrel Coffeehouse Concert Series, an outgrowth of the Folk Project, a collective of acoustic musicians that Dave Kleiner helped to start some 30 years ago.

“I had a music store in Califon that was a focal point for musicians,” he says. “We wanted to set ourselves apart from other folk societies that tended to be more traditional.”

Kleiner traces his love of music to the late 1960s, when he attended the Philadelphia Folk Festival.

“My ears were opened,” he says. “They had African instrumentalists, blues, bluegrass, gospel. John Denver was there, but at the time, he was only known as the guy who wrote ‘Leavin’ on a Jet Plane.’ There was real diversity. It was about being inclusive.”

His earliest CDs from the early 1990s earned him a reputation for witty songs about love and food (though not necessarily together). But he feels that he never was typed solely as a “funny” songwriter.

“I always went for strong emotion, whether laughter or something touching,” he says. “When I listen to other people, I like that variety, being able to mix it up. Look at The Beatles.”

- The Daily Record, Morristown, NJ


Rhymes with Diner, CD
Songs of the Garden State, Fast Folk, Smithsonian-Folkways CD.
Bad Taste, CD
Salesman, CD
Boxing Day, digital single
Stuck Inside New Jersey, CD

Dave as sideman (partial):
Big Jeff and His Middle-Sized Band
Big Jeff: Warm for the Winter
Ken Galipeau: Fishin' with Ish
Mark Schaffer, Mark My Words

Dave as songwriter:
Mexican Rabbi: recorded by Ken Galipeau
Here's to the Rocky Road (co-written with Dennis Dougherty and Steve Gillette), Texas to Tennessee, Steve Gillette and Cindy Mangsen
Waving Joe (co-written with Ralph Litwin): recorded by Ralph Litwin



Dave Kleiner met Liz Pagan through the Folk Project, NJ's leading community music organization. Their voices and senses of humor mesh perfectly. Dave's known locally as a writer of compelling, sometimes humorous, songs, with tunes that get stuck in your head. He also is in demand as a lead and slide guitar player for live shows and recordings. He grew up in the rural western part of New Jersey, living upstairs from his parent's guitar store. Both the geography and his early immersion in a musical environment have led to Dave's unusual lyrical view of the world.
Dave's song "Too Many Restaurants (Not Enough Time)" was recorded for Fast Folk, and is now part of the Smithsonian collection. His "Company Car" song, heard on NPR's Car Talk, led to an appearance at the Opryland Hotel in Nashville. His song "Exit 135" was featured on a Weird NJ CD. "Here's to the Rocky Road" was cowritten with, and recorded by Steve Gillette, the writer of "Darcy Farrow".
Liz Pagan spent many youthful summer playing and singing on the beaches and benches near Asbury Park. She knows hundreds of songs, from Dylan to Springsteen to Steve Earle. She adds harmonies and biting wit to their live performances, which have been compared to acts ranging from Louis Prima and Keely Smith, to Pete and Maura Kennedy.
Dave and Liz perform mostly in New Jersey at concert venues, but have ventured out of the state from time to time, most notably touring Ireland in the summer of 2010 with the Yankee Caravan. Their music was well-received in the pubs of Cork, Kerry, and Clare.
They have just released their fourth CD, "Stuck Inside New Jersey", including fourteen original songs. Additional musicians on the recording include Dennis Diken, drummer for the Smithereens, Graham Maby, bassist for Joe Jackson, and Andy Goessling of Railroad Earth on banjo and mandolin. The music is much like what Liz and Dave have been performing for twenty years, an acoustic-based blend of styles, with the umph of an excellent rhythm section to boost the energy. With the echo of bands like Mumford and Sons in the air, Liz and Dave have a sound that is timeless yet fresh, with the added layer of humor and wit.