Sound Bites: Dave Starke

Dave Starke in his fine tribute to Leonard Cohen, returning to Durban’s Rhumbelow Theatre in Umbilo soon.

BILLY SUTER with an occasional column in which he chats to popular musicians about their musical likes and dislikes. The spotlight is on KwaZulu-Natal singer-guitarist DAVE STARKE, who is scheduled to again stage his widely acclaimed Leonard Cohen – A Tribute show at Durban’s Rhumbelow Theatre in Cunningham Road, Umbilo, at 7pm on both Friday and Saturday, March 19 and 20. Tickets cost R160 each. Note that Covid-19 safety protocols apply (wear a mask!) and all beverages must be bought at the venue. Tea, coffee and soft drinks are always on sale there. Book for the show at Computicket or phone Roland Stansell at 082 499 8636.


What is among your favourite songs?

Hillbrow by Johannes Kerkorrel.

The last album you bought?

The last album I bought was Holly by Nick Waterhouse. I really like him because he references a very vintage sound and has a large stage band, including back-up singers and horn section. Excellent stuff!

Two of your favourite songs of all time?

This is a really tough question for a musician. I would say Sweet Baby James by James Taylor and Idaho by Josh Ritter.

Three of the finest albums ever?

Chet Baker Sings by Chet Baker. Awe-inspiring, nonchalant vocal delivery over excellent jazz-pop arrangements.

Tears of Stone by The Chieftans (and guests). I have always been a sucker for Irish music and this album has it all. It has guest appearances by Diana Krall, Joni Mitchell, Bonnie Raitt, Sinead O’Connor and others.

Brothers in Arms by Dire Straits. Mark Knopfler… need I say more?

Song you hate the most right now?

So many… let’s go with Anaconda by Nicki Minaj.

Worst song in history?

Riki Tiki Tavi by Donovan.

Song you most associate with your teens?

Fear of the Dark by Iron Maiden. I saw them live in Cape Town in 1995.

Song you most associate with your early childhood years?

Paul Simon’s Graceland.

The size of your music collection and the artists represented most there?

Impossible to say. I have around 100 CDs, around 50 LPs and a seemingly infinite collection on computer. The artists most represented are: Eric Clapton, Josh Ritter, Dire Straits, Led Zeppelin, Bob Marley, Dean Martin, Nat King Cole, Chet Baker, Paul Simon, Simon and Garfunkel, Leonard Cohen, Emmylou Harris, James Taylor, The Band and so many more.

Favourite radio station and DJ?

I do not listen to the radio at all.

The local artists you most admire?

Mostly lesser-known musicians who operate within the ‘troubadour’ or ‘folk’ medium. Musical storytellers if you will: Bill Knight, Jenny and the Jameses, Hatchetman, Johannes Kerkorrel (deceased), James Stewart, Wayne Pauli, Vusi Mahlasela…

Artists from abroad that you most admire?

Josh Ritter is the most influential for me by far. Truly excellent.

Most over-rated people in the recording business?

There isn’t really a recording business, as such, anymore. I generally detest those who have made the switch from celebrity (actor, radio personality) to musician. Those who just use their fame to sell rubbish.

Pet hate/s about the music scene in South Africa?

People are reluctant to pay to hear original live music. Also, most audiences don’t really listen – they just want some background to their socialising.

The one music act you would give the world to see perform live?

Alive: Josh Ritter. Dead: Bob Marley.

Ever asked a music personality for an autograph?

Nope… never really met anyone that famous.

Music acts you have seen live and loved?

All of the above local acts, as well as Iron Maiden, Cat Stevens and Johnny Clegg.

Best singing star ever?

Nat King Cole.

The greatest musician of all time?

Yoh, a tough question. Probably Prince.

Best band in history?

Led Zeppelin or The Band.

The styles of music you most enjoy – and least enjoy?

Most: Crooner jazz, reggae, folk and acoustic rock.  Least: House, techno and rap.

The most embarrassing artist represented in your music collection – and why is it there?

The SA House Chart mixed by DJ Game. My wife bought it.

The one song that will always be guaranteed to get you on to a dancefloor?

Special Star by Mango Groove.

The musical teaming you would most like to see?

Robert Plant, Leonard Cohen, Emmylou Harris and Diana Krall.

Your choice of karaoke song?

Mostly anything by Sinatra. They key to doing karaoke well is to sing something that is gentle and within your range. Don’t choose a screaming pop song!

The first song you ever performed for an audience?

I played some bad heavy-metal as a kid, but I consider my first real performance to be Sweet Baby James by James Taylor.

Guilty pleasure: a song you really feel you shouldn’t enjoy, but secretly do?

Tik Tok by Kesha.

Worst decade for music?

Early 2000s.

Hottest-looking music celebs?

Really don’t care so much. I tend to only listen to those whose looks have faded.

Instruments you can play?

Guitar, drums, piano, trumpet and bass.

The song you’d liketo be played at your funeral?

Adagio in G Minor by Albinoni.

The song you find the saddest?

Danny Boy. Cuts me to the bone. Farewell/death songs are always the deepest. This one is both. I have recorded it for my album as it has just entered the “public domain”.

Two dead music icons you’d most like to invite to dinner?

Leonard Cohen and Bob Marley

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