Tuesday, August 01, 2006

David and Denise at ARTS/West


35th-Reunion Tour

David & Denise, a folk duo that performed in New York and Columbus in the late 1960s and early ‘70s, is reuniting for three concerts in August 2006, 35 years after they last appeared together. They will perform at ARTS/West, 132 W. State St. on Friday, August 4; the Columbus Performing Arts Center, in downtown Columbus, on Sunday, August 6; and Cain Park’s Alma Theater, in Cleveland Heights, on Tuesday, August 8.

As a teenager in the middle and late 1960s, David Budin, a Cleveland Heights, Ohio, native, performed in rock bands and as an acoustic solo artist, opening shows for such artists as Linda Ronstadt and Tim Buckley. He moved to New York City in 1968, and played in a New Jersey-based group called the Gift, which was one of the bands whose members eventually evolved into Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band. While in the Gift, Budin got to jam onstage with Jimi Hendrix, Jim Morrison, Janis Joplin and many others, and open shows for artists including the Lovin’ Spoonful and John Hammond Jr.

In 1969, Budin left the group to sign with Sire Records as a recording artist, songwriter, musical arranger and record producer. As a solo artist he played on bills with Canned Heat, Kenny Rankin and others. Budin also worked as a stand-up comedian and a comedy writer in New York.

When Sire Records signed a folk group from Columbus, Ohio, called Mimi & Me (which also featured singer Mimi Rousseau, who has remained a popular Columbus performer), Budin was assigned to produce their album. During rehearsals, Budin discovered that his style of playing and singing matched that of the group’s Denise Johnson, who was also a songwriter. Budin and Johnson decided to form their own duo, David & Denise. Sire offered to sign the duo to the label, so after playing a few gigs in New York, the two moved to Johnson’s hometown, Columbus, to work on their songs. David & Denise performed around Columbus for another year, but then decided to go their separate ways – Budin to Cleveland and Johnson to Oregon.

Budin played in several rock bands for the next decade, and continued to produce records, write songs, arrange music, manage artists, perform and write comedy and promote and produce concerts. He quit the performance and production side of the entertainment industry in 1981 to concentrate on music journalism. He is a successful free-lance magazine writer, focusing on pop culture and especially pop music, writing for regional and national publications.

Johnson performed as a solo artist and in other duos and groups with artists such as Brian Freeman, one of the most popular folk musicians in the Northwest, and with Mark Nelson, a national dulcimer champion, and once performed with Pete Seeger. She also ventured into children’s music and storytelling, becoming a much sought-after performer all around Oregon. She released a collection of her children’s songs, Patchwork Pie, in 1991, and directed several children's productions for which she wrote and arranged the music.

A visual artist as well, for several years Johnson operated a kids' costume business, for which she designed and created items like fancy capes and crowns, wizard and princess hats and wands, which she sold at crafts fairs. She is a fiber artist, too, working in the field of art quilting. She also became certified as a teacher and an Early Childhood specialist.

Budin returned to music in 1998, traveling around the country as a backup musician for his singer-songwriter brother, Noah Budin, and then for other Northern Ohio artists as well. In 2003, he wrote an arrangement of Graham Nash’s “Teach Your Children” for a concert in which Nash sang the song with the 100-member Contemporary Youth Orchestra, and Budin played second guitar with him on the song.

After being re-immersed in playing and singing for a few years, Budin got the idea to re-team with his former musical partner Johnson, to give, as he says, “the last concert we never had.” Johnson liked the idea and so the two have spent months picking out some of the best songs that have been written since they last played together – as well as some of their original songs – and practicing them, mainly through the use of tapes, CDs and the Internet, plus practicing together in Los Angeles for several days in early June.

They have also enlisted the help of three highly talented musicians to back them up in these concerts. Charlie Lewis and Celia Hollander Lewis, an Athens, Ohio, couple who have been performing folk and bluegrass music together, as Charlie & Celia, and individually for more than 20 years in the Athens area as well as the Cleveland area, will be accompanying David & Denise on a variety of instruments, including guitars, banjos, mandolin, hammered dulcimer, Irish harp, autoharp and keyboards. Well known Cleveland musician and music educator Kevin Richards – the founder and director of both the Fairmount School of Music and the Roots of American Music educational programs – will also join the group, playing acoustic and electric guitar, mandolin and fiddle.

For more information, contact PopCycles Productions: 216-791-5149, or popcycles@sbcglobal.net.