In early January Nola.com hosted a live chat about whether or not New Orleans is a good place for young people to begin a career and a life. The discussion, which prompted over 200 reader comments, originally began as a response to two opinion pieces on the subject, one of which was entitled “Why I chose to live in New Orleans,” by guest-writer Sally Hartman.
As a twenty-something laying down roots in this city, Hartman took the pro-Nola stance in this discussion, saying that it was the creative openness that first drew her to live here. “[New Orleans] has a longstanding tradition of welcoming artists, thinkers, and iconoclasts who set the precedent for creative risk taking,” she wrote.
So who are these artists and creative thinkers? And why have they chosen to live here? With these questions in mind, NolaVie will be running interviews that will profile the young artists who have been attracted to New Orleans and who help add to the creative authenticity of this city.
Name: David Shaw
Occupation: Singer/ Songwriter for the Revivalists
Hometown: Hamilton, Ohio
David Shaw is a Ohio-born musician and lead singer of the Revivalists, a New Orleans-bred band that not only revives the soulful sounds of the city, but continues to reinvent those sounds year after year with their genre-spanning musical talent. The story behind how the septet began to form in 2007 is one of those happy-accident, cosmic encounters that fans can only indebt to the awesomeness of southern porches, good weather, and friendly neighbors. Two weeks after Shaw arrived in New Orleans to pursue a musical career, he was practicing guitar on his stoop on Birch Street, when future Revivalists-guitarist ZacK Feinberg happened to bike by. “He was like, ‘Yo – you sound pretty good,” reminisces Shaw, “so I finished the song and we struck up a friendship from there, and started playing some duo gigs and things.”
Seven years later, their group has grown to include Ed Williams on Pedal Steel Guitar, Rob Ingraham on saxophone, George Gekas on bass, Andrew Campanelli on drums and Michael Girardot on keys and trumpet. You can catch them at Jazz Fest 2014, and get pumped for the show with their recently reissued album City of Sound — which includes eight bonus, fan-favorite, live tracks.
NolaVie: When did you start singing?
David Shaw: I started wanting to sing at around 21. I was in Columbus, Ohio going to Ohio State, and I started to write a lot. I was also playing guitar but hadn’t really learned to sing at the same time. It’s kinda like patting your head, rubbing your stomach, and shaking your leg…you’re doing a few different things… it’s a learning process. But I started wanting to express the words that I had written — I wanted to get that out. I didn’t want someone else singing it for me.
NolaVie: What brought you to New Orleans?
DS: I was looking to move; I had left the band I was in to pursue my own musical career. I was either gonna go to New York or Los Angeles… or Nashville. But my girlfriend at the time was like, “Hey, I have a friend in New Orleans with some extra rooms.” I had never thought of New Orleans, really, but I came down for a weekend to visit… and that visit basically turned into a fun year. I think I continued the buzz from that weekend for about a year [laughs].
NolaVie: What has kept this your home base?
DS: It’s a beautiful city and I love it. I’ve been to pretty much every city in the US, and there really is no city like it. I forget who said it — that there are only three cities in the United States, New York, L.A., and New Orleans … and everything else is Cleveland.
NolaVie: What are the hard parts of living in Nola?
DS: I don’t like the summer heat; I don’t like the shitty-ass humidity. I don’t like it when you have to take a shower on exiting your house. Oh, and it’s hard on the car… you have to have the right wheels. You need like an all-terrain vehicle… But the good here outweighs the rest.
NolaVie: Where else can you imagine living?
DS: New York for sure. The thing is, if I’m gonna live in New York, I don’t want to be slumming it. I want to be set up in a pimp pad, with an elevator opened up to my crib. You only have one life and you should live it the best you can.