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David Starr and Friends Help Nashville Rise Up Again at the Station Inn

by Rich and Laura Lynch

It was supposed to be a simple CD release celebration on Wednesday, March 04, 2020 when David Starr was joined by Irene Kelley and the duo known as Wild Ponies (Doug and Telisha Williams) at the legendary Station Inn to present songs from his critically acclaimed album "Beauty and Ruin". But, it turned into a tornado relief concert with all proceeds going to benefit victims of the terrifying twister that descended on the region less than 48 hours earlier.

David Starr and Friends Help Nashville Rise Up Again at the Station Inn
David Starr presents "Beauty and Ruin" in Nashville.

David Starr is an Americana artist from Colorado who hails from a line of storytellers. Consider that this latest project takes inspiration from "Of What Was, Nothing Is Left" - a novel written by his grandfather in 1972. Beauty And Ruin - recorded in Nashville - is produced and arranged by John Oates and co-produced by David Starr and David Kalmusky. Along with the album a republished version of the book accompanies the release offering an incredibly satisfying and immersive experience on both fronts.

The final book Fred Starr published before his death, "Of What Was, Nothing Is Left" is a story of tragedy, family dysfunction, and denial set in rural southwest Arkansas. After working with John Oates (Hall & Oates) on his 2017 The Head And Heart EP, David approached him with the idea: what if we gave several of our favorite songwriters a copy of the book and asked them to write for a concept album based on the story?

David Starr and Friends Help Nashville Rise Up Again at the Station Inn
Scenes from the show at the Station Inn.

Starr and Oates collaborated with a group of incredible artists on the project, including Jim Lauderdale, Wood Newton, Dana Cooper, Doug and Telisha Williams (Wild Ponies), Irene Kelley, and Shelley Rae Korntved. Set in late nineteenth-century Arkansas, the original novel inspired these artists to mine their own history and life experience. This album hammers home the importance of storytelling through our country's oral traditions, reimagined through the spirit of Fred Starr's original book and now musically brought to life by his grandson's unmistakable and emotional vocal performance.

"It is like watching a movie," says Oates. "The cinematic aural landscape visually evokes a classic tale of tragedy, love gone wrong and an exploration of human nature and all its flaws."

David Starr and his extraordinary backing band presented 10 of the album's eleven tracks in Nashville. None were more relatable or appropriate than the anthemic and timely "Rise Up Again" which was delivered with spirit and power in the wounded city. Many of the songs mined from his grandftather's book were sad tales of tragedy slightly softened by rich and lush production. In a live setting the collection pointed a path to healing and carrying on in the face of life's unexpected twists and turns.

David Starr and Friends Help Nashville Rise Up Again at the Station Inn
David Starr's latest is a masterpiece in multi-media form.

At one point David remarked that his group might be a little different than what is normally witnessed at the Station Inn as it was more of a rock act than a bluegrass outfit comprised of two percussion players, mandolin and cello. The unit also featured Grammy-Award winning Producer Mark Prentice on bass. His young son John Prentice killed it on guitar all night added several fiery excursions with extreme skill and precision seemingly never missing a beat or a note.

Opener Irene Kelley showcased a seven-song set from her latest album that features several co-writes with Starr. The title track "Benny's TV Repair" was a sweet recollection recalling her father's determination and pride that came from opening his own business and hanging a shop sign with his name on it. Irene played in a trio that featured her accomplished and talented daughter Justyna making her mandolin debut. Wayne Southards on bass hails from Mt. Juliet and he spent Monday night hunkered down while the tornado passed over his house - so this evening's benefit hit close to home for this particular musician.

The Station Inn remains a favorite a concert venue in Nashville, Tennessee that regularly hosts the region's best bluegrass acts. It opened its doors in 1974 and has hosted notable artists such as Bill Monroe, Ricky Skaggs, Alison Krauss, Peter Rowan, Sam Bush, Gillian Welch, Ralph Stanley, Dolly Parton, Randy Travis, Reba McEntire and Off the Wagon. Upcoming events include Doyle & Debbie, Charlie Worsham, David Grier Band, Rob Ickes & Trey Hensley, Merle Monroe, Live Gospel Music and the weekly Sunday night Bluegrass Jam.

Related Links: For more information on DAVID STARR and the other organizations mentioned please visit the following links -- David Starr | Irene Kelley | Station Inn


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