Friday, April 10, 2009


Although this CD was released in June 2008, it seems fitting that this slowpoke writer finally got around to reviewing it now, in the spring of 2009. Vietnam War veteran David Brewer’s roots are from Florida and Tennessee, with stints in Hawaii and Texas, but he’s also proud to be part-Seminole and pays homage to that heritage in the CD liner notes of this release. According to Native American legend, Wovoka (the equivalent of Jesus Christ) spoke of a place where, in spring, the earth would be replenished with new soil, sweet grass, running water and budding trees. Herds of buffalo and wild horses would be returned to the land. All Indians who danced the Ghost Dance would be suspended in the air while the renewal took place, and the ghosts of their ancestors would take their place on the land. It would be a new world comprised exclusively of Indians.

By the same token, on Ghost Dance, David Brewer offers up earthy, rhythm-based reincarnations of some of his favourite songs and songwriters. Some are more well-known than others, e.g. Greg Allman’s “It’s Not My Cross to Bear” and “Midnight Rider”, the latter just one of many with splendid multi-layered harmonic vocals!

Also included are the CD opener and closer, “Just Got Paid” and “Waitin’ for the Bus”, respectively, both composed by Billy Gibbons of ZZ Top. Chuck Berry, a particular favourite of Brewer, is covered with “You Can’t Catch Me”, which cleverly codas into a lick from Barri/Sloan’s “Secret Agent Man”, popularized by Johnny Rivers. These particular “back to the roots” renditions alone make this CD purchase worthwhile, but there’s much to love here.

Just as Brewer has proven himself a great songwriter in his own right (Colin James and Carey Bell covered Brewer’s “Bad Habits”; Long John Baldry recorded his “You Wanna Dance”), he is equally adept at making the compositions of other songwriters his own. Other composers honoured here are Chuck Seals (“Crazy Arms”), Joe Young (“Sit Right Down”), and Al Pyfrom (“The Truth”). On P. Kennly’s “Born to Run”, Brewer’s musical and personal nature is revealed with the lyrics, “Nobody’s gonna make me do anything their way; by the time they figure me out, it’s yesterday…”.

Ghost Dance is the epitome of a “solo” project, as David Brewer arranged, produced and performed all vocals and instrumentation, both acoustic and electric. He did have assistance from saxman and long-time Brewer producer and friend Raven Humphres, who recorded, mixed and mastered the project in a mere four days at Blackwing Studio.

Country-rock music fans, as well as those who love the no-nonsense sound of early rock’n’roll strummers like Buddy Holly, the Everly Brothers, and even Elvis Presley, will also appreciate this recording. I recommend you check out his earlier releases, as well - Absolutely, All Tore Down, Bad Habits, and a brand-new release of a live recording with Albert Collins from July 1976, entitled Albert Collins - The Bicentennial Session, With the David Brewer Band.

D.M. Wells


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