#MyMusicMaps is not just a column for teachers and classical performers. In it we recognise the many people working under the banner of music. One such person I wanted to interview is Mr. David Viner. You may or may not have heard of David, most probably the latter, but in this era of music this is commonplace – ‘unknown’ artists fill the Royal Albert Hall, top the charts and provide music for some of the most popular shows on TV. However it was in a tiny club with a modest audience of three that I realised that David was a little different. An audience of three is not unusual on the indie circuit. It is when one of them is Jack White….
David is a musician of many contradictions. Music is not his job yet he has been signed to some of the world’s biggest labels and toured with the biggest bands, and despite the fact he is not a teacher he has taught me more about playing the guitar and the integrity of music than he can possibly imagine.
Tell us about who you are and what you do
I’m Mr. David Viner and I write melodies and words, sometimes forming them together to create what is more commonly known as a ‘song’. I also have a job.
How did you get into music?
…Day 7300 After hearing the Stanley Brothers I went and bought me a banjo. I couldn’t play the thing so I looked in the Yellow Pages for a teacher and found one in Crouch End. He seemed quite adamant that I should quit the banjo and focus on finger picking, which I was also interested in. He gave me a couple of exercises to practise and when I came back to the next lesson he was quite shocked to find that I could play the pieces perfectly. He was a snobby little man who ticked me off for being late (not my fault, the bus was in traffic) so I never called him back. From then on, it was working out the music from listening to the records which I loved to do. At the time I had a job delivering food, using my car. I found there was quite a lot of waiting around night, so I bought a ¾ size guitar and practised in the car while I waited for my next pickup…
…Day 8030 I’m now driving bands around the UK for £10 a day. The money covered two fast food meals and I got to watch music every night so I was very, very happy. The band I was working for heard a few songs I had been working on and let me leave the merch table for 20 minutes every night and play support for them…
Why did you choose to work in music?
Because music was the first creative medium to really hit me as a teenager. I’ve always wanted to play and create it.
What advice would you give to the parent of someone learning music for the first time?
My advice, and this is as a parent of young children, is to relieve any pressure of an ultimate goal as the beginnings are the hardest. Encouragement through practice and a constant “that sounds amazing!” seems to help them enjoy it.
Name a musician that inspires you
Hearing Skip James play piano not only fills me with a great warmth but also makes me think: I can do that.
…Day 9490 I was asked to play a couple of songs for the launch of Will Hodgkinson’s book ‘Guitar Man’ at the Green Note in Camden. I had featured in the book as he wrote about his odyssey from beginner to finger picker. There in the crowd was the reason I played the way I do, Bert Jansch. To get his attention I played a little lick from a new song I had written, he quickly spun his head round to find the sound, looked at me for a few seconds and turned away back to his conversation. I’m sure there was a little look of arrogance on his face…
Where is the most exciting place music has taken you?
…Day 9855 The band were playing once a week at a pokey little West End venue on Denmark Street called 12 Bar club in Denmark Street, The White Stripes were in town and came down to the gig, afterwards they invited us to open up for them on the European tour a few days later. Big crowds, proper roadies (I say proper as I used to be one and I had no idea what I was doing) back stage catering and lots of miles….
I have played a lot over Europe and the USA but getting to play towns and cities in the UK has been the most rewarding. I’m not sure I would ever have had a reason to go to Stockton upon Tees or Leicester for example if it weren’t for gigs and I’m grateful that I’ve now seen these parts of the country.
More here: mrdavidviner.bandcamp.com