Texas-based Gulf Coast Records, which has been releasing exciting new blues/rock albums since 2018, has signed Milwaukee area-based guitarist/singer Dave Kalz and will release his debut CD, Relish, on June 25th.
Dave Kalz and Gulf Coast Records founder/co-owner Mike Zito met years ago in their hometown of St. Louis, so, it was only fitting for them to return to their roots and record Dave’s debut album on Gulf Coast Records at Sawhorse Studios in St. Louis. “I've known Dave Kalz for 30 years,” said Mike Zito in making the announcement. “He is an inspired guitarist and musician full of heart and soul.”
From 1998-2000 and 2005, Dave Kalz was a founding member of Devon Allman’s Honeytribe, which toured as the opening act for Devon’s father, Gregg Allman, and also performed shows with The Allman Brothers Band, Dickey Betts, Chuck Berry, Little Feat, Molly Hatchet, Night Ranger, Gregg Rolie and many others.
In 2018, Dave formed Anthology – an Allman Brothers Tribute band. It featured former members of Gregg Allman’s 1978 touring band, Danny Liston and Richard Steltenpohl (also founding members of Mama’s Pride), Mike Zito, the late Grammy Award-winner Yonrico Scott, formerly of Derek Trucks Band and Royal Southern Brotherhood, James Jackson (George Benson, Level 42), and Tom Denman (formerly of Mama’s Pride).
The 11 all-original songs on Relish were produced by Mike Zito and feature both Kalz and his regular band, augmented by special guests, including Zito, himself. The lineup includes Dave Kalz - guitars and vocals; Greg Hulub - bass guitar and backup vocals; Kevin McDonald – drums; Mike Zito - slide guitar on “Werewolf Blues,” guitar on “Playing the Blues with My Friends;” Tony Campanella - guitar on “Playing the Blues with My Friends;” and Lewis Stephens - keyboards on “Mexico.”"When I first met Mike Zito, he was working at Metro Guitar Shop in St. Louis and playing in a country band with a DJ from a popular St. Louis radio station,” recalls Dave Kalz. “I was playing in a St. Louis band that had become very popular on a local level. Mike and I immediately hit it off. We heard a lot of the same tones in our heads and listened to a lot of the same music; we saw the world from similar points of view.....and we shared a love for Fender Telecasters. We've been friends ever since, and when I knew I was going to put out this record, I wanted to do it with Mike. It was never a question of ‘if,’ just a question of ‘when.’”
Dave Kalz began playing music in St. Louis but later moved to the Milwaukee area, where he now lives. “After the original music scene and the downtown night life in St. Louis partially collapsed, I stuck it out for another decade or so. However, I recently moved to the Milwaukee area - which is of course mighty close to Chicago. We live right between Milwaukee and Madison. Some things about downtown Milwaukee remind me of the old days in St. Louis. Their downtown is very robust and active, and people are so nice and polite up in the northern Midwest. It's an easy part of the country to make new friends, and Chicago has a wealth of great blues and jazz. I still love St. Louis and visit there as often as I can. Some of my favorite venues in the country are still in the city of St. Louis.”
Dave Kalz has been in love with music from the start. “When I was 4-5 years old, I used to take my grandparent's old records, spin them in a circle, and acting like my finger was the needle, I would make up my own songs.... singing my little heart out,” he says. “When I was 6 years old, I had an older cousin who turned me on to Led Zeppelin's first album, 10 Years After's Ssssh, and a whole host of records by B.B. King. By the time I was in 6th grade, I was playing air guitar on a wooden yard stick to records by Little Feat, the Allman Brothers, and Foghat. I was already knee deep in the swampier blues rock stuff.
When I finally picked up a guitar as a teenager, I started learning how to form solos by playing along with Live at Fillmore East by the Allman Brothers and Waiting on Columbus by Little Feat. My world changed when I bought Deguello by ZZ Top, and then changed again when I first heard Texas Flood by Stevie Ray Vaughan. But when I turned 21, and I saw Albert Collins play at Mississippi Nights in St. Louis, and the Arc Angels at the same venue not too long after that, everything I thought about guitar tones changed. It was like someone lifted a blanket off of the guitar amp in my head, and suddenly, I knew what I wanted out of my fingers, my guitar, and my amp.
“My first trip to New Orleans, followed by a trip to the New Mexico and Arizona deserts changed how I would write and hear the music in my head forever. It became more spiritual.... but also more nasty and swampy. I wanted my guitar to emote sounds that evoked grit and grease, but with a hint of dark mystery, intrigue. And I wanted it to sound like a big Mack Truck trying to fit down a tight back alley, squeezing its way through as it pushed everything around it. Everything I do now goes back to that. That's the sound that has been in my head ever since.”
Dave Kalz Talks about the Songs on Relish
“Relish” – “I could tell you what it's really about, but I think it's better if everyone has their own little interpretation of it. Trust me, it's a good thing, and I don't want to take anyone's meaning out of a fun song. Let it be whatever any person wants it to be, and when you think about it, just smile. That's what I do.” “Mexico” and “Werewolf Blues” – “Probably of all these songs, I'm closest to ‘Mexico’ and ‘Werewolf Blues.’ I wrote ‘Mexico’ some years ago, when I was a still young and I've kept it around all of this time. It was right after I saw the Arc Angels perform live and I wanted to have this big open sound. I had the whole thing done in 10 minutes. It seems like the best songs do that. They just come from somewhere in your subconscious, like they were already there, just waiting to be released. I had actually dismissed the song because I had written it so long ago, but Mike was like, ‘We should put that one on the album!’ I'm glad he did; it was the right decision. ‘Werewolf Blues’ was one I wrote a while back. I was always this huge Vincent Price fan, since I was a kid. I loved all of those black and white horror films from the 1950s and '60s. I was trying to envision if an old Vincent Price horror flick were a song, and that's how ‘Werewolf Blues’ came about. It's my homage to him and those old movies.”
“Flying High” – “Growing up in St. Louis during the time I did was great. It was a wealth of music; so many great musicians, bands, and clubs. The city of St. Louis had a vibe to it. It was where all walks of life and cultures gathered for their shared love of good music, food and drinks. There was great music everywhere...from blues to jazz to funk and to rock. Back in those days, it was something special. ‘Flying High’ was written about that time, and Laclede's Landing, where you could go to over 20 venues within several blocks to see live music!”
“Stone Cold Stuck” - Last June, we moved from St. Louis to Wisconsin, near Milwaukee. Moving during a pandemic is interesting, to say the least. Trying to get to know a new state and a new town when everything is shut down and you're hesitant to go out is impossible. Add our first winter in the northern part of the country and you start to get cabin fever. But if you come down with COVID in the middle of all that, like I did, you just basically throw up your hands and say, ‘I'm going to just make the best of this, and it will be OK!’ So I literally wrote ‘Stone Cold Stuck’ when I was stuck at home with the virus, a foot or so of snow, nothing much to do, and nowhere to go even if I weren’t sick. Anyway, I love Wisconsin; it's a beautiful place with tons of very nice people. But at the time, I was feeling a bit disgruntled about my little situation. Looking back, I realize it was really nothing - and it actually offered me a time of solace to get some good writing done! I was one of the lucky ones. COVID came and left with no drama and no aftereffects.”
“Route 666” - I'm a huge classic car nut, thus also a Route 66 aficionado. On top of that, I've always loved and appreciated the sounds and songs of Billy Gibbons and ZZ Top. Especially the old classic albums that sound like they were laid down live in the studio. I'm also a big Twin Peaks/David Lynch junkie. This song pays homage to all of that, while throwing in a little dash of classic cult horror movie stuff, once again, with sort of a dark, modern twist. The idea in my head was, ‘What if David Lynch produced ZZ Top making a song about something bizarre and evil, on a lonely road off Route 66?’ I know, crazy talk, right?”
“She’s Got a Hemi” – “Again, being an old car nut... I'm talking about the original hemi’s, in the old ‘muscle car’ Challengers, Road Runners and Chargers....four speed on the floor, but with a woman driver kicking all of the guy's asses in their souped-up Mustangs and Camaros. And of course, this song is also a nod to the old surf rock songs about fast cars and pretty girls.”
“Taxman” – “Being a self-employed musician and paying taxes is no fun. It feels like as soon as you actually start to make a little money, after losing money for so many years, you’re rewarded with a hefty tax bill. Maybe I just need a good accountant, or I need to buy more guitars! Also, I've always been a huge Jerry Reed fan. So this is also my nod to him - in a blues rock fashion.”
“Coffee with Muffin” - “It's just a quick little rhythm thing. I think maybe it's just meant to be the way it is. Almost like backing music to an old, old movie....or something. By the time we do it live, it may take on some new character. We shall see!”
“I Can't Quit Ya’ Baby” – “I wrote this some years ago. In fact, we used to play this and ‘Mexico’ in Honeytribe, as Devon took a liking to both. It's about the end of a love affair that takes a very dark and creepy turn. It's also one of my favorite songs to perform live.”
“Playing the Blues with My Friends” – “This is just a simple fact. I love all kinds of music, but I do especially love the blues, blues-inspired rock and anything with that shufflin' groove to it. And I love playing music with my friends. There's nothing else I enjoy more in this life than that. But I think more than ever, we have to keep live music alive! Beats, and samples, that's all cool and they have their place. But real music, made by real musicians.....there would be none of the former without the later. This song was a blast to play with Mike (Zito) and Tony (Campanella), and of course with Greg (Hulub) and Kevin (McDonald) making the groove happen...man this is what it's all about!”