David Starr finished his Spring Tour of the UK with an accomplished performance at the Invernairne Guest House as a band of residents, visitors and followers had the pleasure of hearing some fine live music while ensconced in the bar. If you’re going to work a room, you’d be hard pushed to find a better stage than the Invernairne with its large bay windows overlooking the Moray Firth. Starr and Stucky became silhouettes as twilight advanced, Starr still identifiable by his iconic pork-pie hat. What stayed clear throughout the evening was their outstanding musicianship and songwriting talent.
David Starr has had a decades-long career and has released over ten albums. His most recent recording being the EP ‘Better Me’ released last March. Starr was accompanied on this tour by Eric Stucky on mandolin. With understated calm they began. Highlights from the first set included a beautiful rendition of ‘Edge of the World’ with the memorable chorus: “Half the time she is a woman, half the time, a little girl. But… take her hand, and give her half a chance, she’ll take you to the edge of the world.” Bonnie Raitt sang ‘Angel from Montgomery’ with style but Starr sang this John Prine classic brilliantly tonight.
When Starr got around to reading a book written by his grandfather, he proceeded to write a collection of songs inspired by the story. He sang the album’s title track ‘Beauty and Ruin’ and returned to the album in the second set, singing ‘Of What Was, Nothing is Left’, the song borrowing the title of the book. The gentlemen swapped instruments for a couple of songs with Stucky singing. It was noticeable that Starr was comfortable taking a backseat while the younger man showcased a few of his own songs, ‘Southbound’ and ‘Shoulder for Your Tears’. Stucky also plucked some bluegrass in the second set playing ‘Shady Grove’. ‘Cabo San Lucas’ (not the Toby Keith song) ended a fine first set.
The second set had Stucky playing outrageous mandolin on ‘Good as Gone’ while Starr turned his hand to Blind Willie McTell’s ‘Statesboro Blues’ and Billy Burnette’s ‘Lonesome Train’ that had heads nodding and fingers tapping in the bar. He did a great cover of John Hiatt’s ‘Feels like Rain’ and a beautiful take on Jackson Browne’s ‘These Days’. Stucky wrote the song ‘Because You’re Right’ from Starr’s recent EP. It is an outstanding song. As the night closed in Starr sang ‘Waiting in the Dark’ and finally drew a line in the sand with Lefty Frizzell’s ‘Long Black Veil’. Some rise from their salubrious seats to applaud at the end and many leave clutching copies of the man’s work.
David Starr seems to mix what he does with what he loves. This cocktail keeps his live sets interesting and just down right enjoyable.