The tribute was in Marquetta Herring’s “Paperback Plus” bookstore in Old East Dallas.
Legendary folkie, and Friend of Townes, Vince Bell and his lovely wife Sarah were coming. Vince would play “Mr. Mudd & Mr. Gold” David had to follow him.
“You’ll do all right”, Vince said noticing his nervousness. He did.
So began the dual life of David Byboth. High Tech Executive for a global technology company by day. Folk singer/songwriter house concert presenter and self professed festival junkie the rest of the time.
“Folk & Texas Music is in my blood. I bought my first guitar when I was 14. Cut my teeth on Neil Diamond, Cat Stevens and others but it was the likes of Jerry Jeff, Rusty Weir & Steven Fromholz that shaped my music…”,
In the late ‘70s and early ‘80s as a teenager, his Friday & Saturday nights were spent on Greenville Avenue in Dallas at places like, The Western Place, or Whisky River, or Lilly Langtry’s. David saw Steve Fromholz & Dan McCrimmon as Frummox play “Texas Trilogy” at the original Poor David’s Pub on McKinney Ave. He saw Jerry Jeff Walker with Bugs Henderson on Guitar. He saw Rusty Weir, BW Stevenson and more.
Then came the ‘80s and KNON in Dallas. Townes Van Zandt was on the radio. He had that soft lilting voice that you can’t not listen to. David saw him with Guy Clark, Jerry Jeff and Mickey Newbury at the Arcadia Theater. It was billed as the “First Annual Texas Songwriters Reunion.” There was never another one.
“The Arcadia, one of the greatest old wooden theaters I have ever been in. I saw Lyle Lovett open for Jerry Jeff Walker there and Robert Earl Keen from the front row. The Arcadia became a Hispanic disco. Recently it burned to the ground. You can still find the Marquee sign if you look…”
“I was completely captivated with Townes & Guy. I bought all their records I could find. I sat for hours with “Let Him Roll” on the turntable, moving the needle back over and over again learning to fingerpick on my $100 Yamaha guitar. Then I moved on to “If I Needed You”, “Rex’s Blues”, “Homegrown Tomatoes”.
“I was spending all my musical energy learning other people’s songs. One day it struck me. If I spend at least half my energy writing my own songs, there might be something really cool come out of that. Now there’s a challenge for a left-handed engineer with not much natural musical ability. I worked hard. I learned about song structure, keys and chords. I played for years to the bedroom wall. Then I got divorced.”
There’s nothing like a major emotional event to drive creativity. David took full advantage of his new found freedom. He started writing songs. He started going to music festivals and he joined the Dallas Folk Music Society. The DFMS had a monthly “Hootenanny”. It introduced him to the “Song Circle”.
“It was the first time I played for strangers. I played Townes’ songs. I played Guy’s songs. Most of all, I played my songs. There weren’t many songwriters in the DFMS. A lot of what was played was traditional folk; Woody Guthrie and the like. I fell in love with the people and the culture. I made new friends. I started having “jams” at my house. I also found the internet.”
“In early 1995 my “High Tech” career took me to a networking startup company. There was this cool new thing called the “World Wide Web”. I had an e-mail address for the first time. Sometime in 1996 I found a discussion group about Townes Van Zandt. Before Yahoogroups, they were called Listserv’s. Suddenly there was a whole group of people from all over the place with similar interest to discuss music with. I also found the Jerry Jeff Walker list. Jerry Jeff had a big Birthday bash every year in Downtown Austin at the Driskill hotel. I had to go. I met and became fast friends with people from places like Boston, Vancouver, England, and Australia. We played music until our fingers bled. I wrote more songs.”
In early 2001, with his new wife Lois, David began presenting house concerts.
“We put on over 40 shows in 6 years. This brought us closer to the music community. One of our annual performers was Ray Wylie Hubbard. Every time he was at the house he told me how great it was living in the Texas Hill Country. He was pretty convincing so I started talking about it a lot myself. One day he looked at me and said;
“You’re always talking about moving to the hill country. What’s holding you back?”
“So one weekend Lois and I took a trip to look at properties. We bought in Wimberley. It quickly became home to us. We started driving down from Dallas most weekends. We told people “We live in Wimberley but we work in Dallas” I started gigging more. Playing with my friends “The Woodburns” and Jim Bush and doing shows of my own and performing at small festivals around Texas. Opening for guys like David Olney, and Malcolm Holcombe, and playing every open mic I could find. My friends were making CD’s. I needed one. I wrote it down as a goal.”
“Some time back I learned an important lesson. You don’t get what you want if you don’t ask. From the house concerts, and moving to Wimberley, I got to know Ray & Judy Hubbard as friends. I had occasionally sold merchandise at Ray’s shows in Dallas, and ran sound for a few shows. I knew he was producing records for up-and-comers that he liked around Austin. I left my high-tech-exec job and moved to Wimberley full time. It was time. I asked him if he would produce my record. We talked about it a lot about how it would sound. We were on the same page. Finally he said “Come on over and play your songs”. I did and then we made a record….”
“My Mind’s Eye” is a folk record. It’s earthy and acoustic and hand made. There is no Bass, no cymbals and no special effects. The songs all mean something. They were written with something to say. It is what it is….”
David is now touring and playing folk clubs, coffee houses, house concerts, festivals, etc. His debut CD “My Mind’s Eye” is getting rave reviews.
Folk – Americana
“ Are you coming to the Townes tribute next week?? What three songs are you going to play?”
Those two questions started the performing career of David Byboth. Townes was only gone for a few months. David had been playing and writing for years… but not for other people.