Send It Slam Artist Feature: Dave Shoemaker
Second of a series: GoWild Cofounder, CEO, Brad Luttrell is sharing the stories behind how GoWild came to work with each Send It Slam artist.
The high tone of my guitar ripped away and through the Appalachian hardwoods and echoed back off the slate cliffs and into its final resting place—the ears of a few dozen teenage bodies. The guitar solo clunked a bit as my guitar strap came undone. My hand rolled and slid up the neck, awkwardly clinging to my six strings trying to play it cool. I pressed on, and then, felt a hand on my back.
“Damn, bubby, I didn’t know you had it in you,” I heard as I turned to see a cigarette clinging to Dave Shoemaker’s lip as he snapped my strap back into place.
Our little garage band, DriveStone, finished our last song “Give.” Looking back, it was really our only song with a decent vocal melody—we were not destined for a record deal. Our chord progressions were mediocre southern rock ballad attempts at originals, and we were borderline banal. Still, at that moment, I was proud of our set and even more proud that my guitar playing had gotten the nod of Dave Shoemaker.
Let’s be real—this was just a house party. We were just some punk kids from the hills. Regardless, 20 years later I still remember this show because it had brought us to opening up for Dave Shoemaker. He was the cooler older brother of my friend, Ashley. At that time and funny enough, Dave was the lead singer—or maybe screamer—of a heavy metal band that would melt your face and ears into a glass and mix it with a shot of bootlegged whiskey.
Dave and I didn’t stay in touch after I moved for college. About 15 years later, through our mutual best friend Blake Carpenter, we started hanging out again here and there, and I realized he had evolved.
Dave traded in his distorted metal power chords for soul wrenching country refrain (Dave does still wear mostly black—very metal).
I’ve seen Dave play several times now at music festivals—including a show with Dalton Mills and Cole Chaney—and he always approaches the mic the same. He has a story to tell, and he’ll die before he fails to tell it. He seems to transform into his songs’ heroes and heroines as he closes his eyes and leans into the mic.
His song “Foreverything” is about his grandparents, and the first time I saw him play it at a festival, it soaked up my heart and wrang it out like a dirty sponge. And he’s not just an emotional lyrical performer—this dude can play a six string. Dave’s guitar licks are classic eastern Kentucky, found among the likes of Tyler Childers and Cole Chaney, as seen in songs like “Mountain Song.” But while those rolls and hammer ons are familiar, his chord progressions offer something more. Songs like “Henrietta Blues” have a distinct progression that’s as memorable as they are attention-grabbing.
Dave takes the stage after Dalton Mills and before Abby Hamilton. I can promise you a few things about the set:
- Dave may or may not have shoes on—that’s a Kentucky stereotype we all embrace
- He will probably be wearing black, despite the July heat
- He’s getting a hug from me when he walks off that stage
Love ya, bubby.
About the Author
Brad Luttrell is the Cofounder, CEO of GoWild. His career has taken him through journalism, advertising, technology and the outdoor industry. All along the way, he’s had a guitar in his trunk and a song in his head.