David Yates is a music legend in East Tennessee and Southwest Virginia. He's kind of like the late Mike Auldridge of that historical motherland for bluegrass and country music; smooth, with tons of tone. For years, David was known as an ace electric guitarist who valued tone and timing over flash and hot licks. But he is also a great acoustic cat--something of a rarity among electric players. An accomplished musician of all trades, he is known as a fiddler as well, and for the last twenty years or so as one of the best teachers of acoustic instruments in East Tennessee. His students and proteges include Hunter Berry, Beth Lawrence, Darrell Webb and Tennessee First District Congressman Phil Roe.
Here David showcases four original tunes, a mini tour-de-force. They span the gamut of emotions, paying homage to those in his past who continue to influence him. First on that list would be his mother. Anyone who knows David knows what a huge impact his mother had on his life, and he has penned the perfect tribute to her self-sacrifice and devotion to her son in "Cardboard in Her Shoes." The emotional core of this recording, the song evokes tender memories of a mother who did without so that her son could have his first guitar; she would be both amazed and immensely proud to see what has come of that selfless gesture all these years later. David's mother was also a talented writer herself, as "The Orphan Child" demonstrates vividly. "Million Dollar Man," though surely a cautionary tale, was inspired by Yates's longtime musical boss and compatriot, the great country singer David Friday. With Friday, Yates opened for country music legend Merle Haggard for two years.
The result of those influences is on full display on "Kansas Wind," an original instrumental that could have jumped right out of a smooth jazz channel or a movie soundtrack (any producers listening?). David's grasp of melody, tone, timing and technique is striking. His partners in crime, Hunter Berry (fiddle), Adam Steffey (mandolin), Barry Bales (bass) and John Gardner (percussion), lay down a perfect, impressive groove.
If you're a fan of the fundamentals of musicianship and how they can be used to create a powerful statement, or of a good set of lyrics crafted to tell a tender story, there's no reason you wouldn't love this recording.
Tim Stafford ~ Kingsport, TN