David Rawlings

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David Rawlings
David Rawlings performing in 2014
Background information
Born (1969-12-31) December 31, 1969 (age 51)
North Smithfield, Rhode Island, U.S.
  • Musician
  • singer
  • record producer
InstrumentsVocals, guitar
Associated acts Gillian Welch, Willie Watson, John Paul Jones (musician)
Website www.daverawlingsmachine.com

David Todd Rawlings (December 31, 1969) is an American guitarist, singer, and record producer. He is known for his partnership with singer and songwriter Gillian Welch. [1] He and Welch were nominated for the Academy Award for Best Original Song at the 91st Academy Awards for "When a Cowboy Trades His Spurs for Wings" from The Ballad of Buster Scruggs .


Life and career

Rawlings attended the Berklee College of Music and studied with Lauren Passarelli. [2] He produced albums by Gillian Welch, Willie Watson, Dawes, and Old Crow Medicine Show. He leads the Dave Rawlings Machine with Gillian Welch, Willie Watson, Paul Kowert, and Brittany Haas. John Paul Jones of Led Zeppelin has been known to play mandolin with the band occasionally. [3] Rawlings contributed to the albums Cassadaga by Bright Eyes, Spooked by Robyn Hitchcock, and Heartbreaker by Ryan Adams, with whom he wrote two songs, "To Be Young (Is to Be Sad, Is to Be High)" and "Touch, Feel and Lose". [4] His vocal style has often been compared to that of Bob Dylan. [5] [6]


A Friend of a Friend (2009)

The Dave Rawlings Machine album A Friend of a Friend was released on November 17, 2009. Rawlings recorded the album in Nashville, and produced it himself. Gillian Welch is credited as a co-writer on five of the album's songs as well playing in the band with members of Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, Old Crow Medicine Show, and Bright Eyes. [7] [8] The album features a medley of a Neil Young and Bright Eyes song, as well as songs Rawlings co-wrote with Ryan Adams and Old Crow Medicine Show. [5] Morgan Nagler (of the band Whispertown) is credited with co-writing the song 'Sweet Tooth.' [9]

Nashville Obsolete (2015)

In 2015 Dave Rawlings Machine released a second album, Nashville Obsolete. [10] The album was named to Rolling Stone's list of the top 40 country albums of 2016. [3] In late 2016 Acony issued Boots No 1: The Official Revival Bootleg, a deluxe version of the 1996 Welch album considered a "modern Americana classic" and the first collaboration for the duo. [1]

Poor David's Almanack (2017)

Poor David's Almanack, released on August 11, 2017 via Acony Records, is the eighth collaborative LP for Rawlings and Welch and the first under the name David Rawlings. [11] [12] In addition to Welch and Watson, the backup band includes Ketch Secor of Old Crow Medicine Show, and Taylor and Griffin Goldsmith of Dawes. The album was recorded with Ken Scott and Matt Andrews at the Rawlings/Welch duo's Woodland Sound Studios in Nashville. [13] The album features an original woodcut piece by Gillian Welch on the cover and was notably the first vinyl release on Welch and Rawlings' Acony record label. [14] [15]

Start to finish, the album is a testament both to his immeasurable talent and to his essential place in the roots and Americana music scene. It's also a chance for a guy otherwise happy to play sideman or stand behind the boards to step out just a touch further into a well-deserved spotlight. [13]

Brittney McKenna, Rolling Stone

"Cumberland Gap" was used as the opening song to Guy Richie's 2020 film, The Gentlemen.


Rawlings achieves his signature guitar sound flatpicking a small archtop guitar. The 1935 Epiphone Olympic that has been his primary instrument was a mid-priced guitar for its time, with a carved arched solid sprucewood top, carved arched solid mahogany back and mahogany sides. [16] It sold for about $35 in 1935 [17] (equivalent to $660in 2020 [18] ). The guitar's lower bout measures 13 5/8 inches wide, and it has three piece f-holes. [16]

Rawlings "scavenged" the guitar from a friend's garage and is now hardly seen playing anything else. As he states, "I just picked it up. It was filthy, and it didn't have strings. You could just see the shape of it under the sawdust." Rawlings had a new one piece bridge made for it and brought it to a recording session for the Welch's first record. "As soon as I heard it through the microphone and through the speakers I was like, 'I love this guitar.'" he says. [19]


David Rawlings

Gillian Welch & David Rawlings

Gillian Welch

As guest

With Ryan Adams

With Bright Eyes

With others

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