There are many worthy options for quality music in this area so it’s great when a new “local” arrives and adds to that. David Soltz is starting to make a name for himself in the Ludlow/Killington region. Soltz moved up here last year from Massachusetts and plays every Friday and Saturday night at Santa Fe Steakhouse at 8 p.m., and he’ll be playing there on New Year’s Eve. He also has some semi-regular gigs in Ludlow, so look for his name—it’ll be worth the trip. I had the pleasure of seeing him this past Saturday night and he plays a great mix of music. He describes his music as acoustic soul, and said, “I consider what I do to be soulful because it is for me and I play acoustic. It’s not ‘soul music’ per say, but it is for me.”
Soltz grew up as a middle child with both his brother and sister having played piano. He was about eight years old when he decided he wanted to play guitar. He did that for a year straight and then took a break till he was 11. A buddy of his sister started teaching him songs and chords. Soltz said, “I started getting into it then. I had different teachers and would learn a lot by ear. In high school I started to study music and in college I took theory classes and jazz lessons.” Soltz attended Umass-Amherst and said if he could have been a music minor, he would have.
Soltz grew up in Longmeadow, Mass. He and his brother, who is a drummer, played in bands together throughout high school, and they even won a few battle of the bands contests. Their parents were really supportive. “Him being a drummer, that’s always where band practices are. The drummer does not want to move his gear so we had band practices in our basement. My parents were down with that. When we were old enough to play bar gigs, they would come to our gigs,” Soltz recalled.
Later, Soltz formed an acoustic duo with a woman named Settie, called Settie and the Acoustic Wave. They did that together for many years in the 90s. When we spoke of this, we learned it really is a small world. Soltz and I both played the Springfield Sheraton during the same era and quite possibly met back then. He also played at Shannon’s Pub in Springfield and sat in with Sean and Jamie there. That Jamie is Jamie Livesey from Jamie’s Junk Show. He didn’t realize it was one and the same until last week.
He and Settie also had a band called Carpal Tunnel and played with his brother and Mark Thomas. More shock for us came then because Thomas is an old friend of mine who played at the Wobbly Barn my first season back in 1996. The craziness does not stop there. He first started playing for Santa Fe through meeting Britt Crompton. He knew she looked familiar and they realized that they lived in the same dorm together in college.
Small world, indeed!
Soltz’s first paid bar gig was at Twister’s in Amherst with Settie during his senior year in college. They started gigging around the Amherst area. He was not a fan of the band name Carpal Tunnel, and said, “It was a horrible name. Settie was studying physical therapy and before anyone knew what carpal tunnel was, she told my brother that’s what he had from playing the drums. For some reason we decided that was a good name for the band. I hated the name.”
The name may not have been popular but they certainly were. “All of Longmeadow would come and see us play, plus for four years in a row, all the folks from our high school. Settie was class of ‘84, Thomas was ‘85, I was ‘86 and my brother was ‘87. We had a whole generation from Longmeadow High come see us in Springfield.”
Soltz moved to Ludlow just last year. He had been going there to ski as a kid and liked the area. His friend has a place there and a couple years ago he bought the $99 Okemo Spring Pass and that sealed the deal.
“I was sort of drawn to this area. I always wanted to live in a ski town and play gigs,” Soltz explained. He thought about heading to Colorado but it’s such a long move, especially with his best friend dog, Babu. He chose Ludlow because he’s so familiar with the area.
His summers are spent playing solo in Martha’s Vineyard at the Ritz and the Right Fork Diner but he’s lived all over the place. He lived on the West Coast for seven years but since that lacked all the seasons, he moved back East and lived in Northampton, Mass., playing the bar scene there. Now he’s deciding if he’ll stay year-round.
“One of the reasons I came up here is you can’t ski on the Vineyard. I like to stay active in the winter time so I got a mid-week pass … I get to be active and spend time with my dog during the day and then play music at night. It’s a great little lifestyle,” said Soltz.
Soltz musical style is finger pickin’, so Mississippi John Hurt was his first finger-style guitar influence. He also likes Taj Mahal and plays a bunch of his tunes; Blind Blake, a ragtime guitarist; Neil Young; Louis Armstrong; Jorma Kaukonen from Hot Tuna; and Michael Hedges. Stolz writes his own music and has an album out called “Water.” His songwriting musical influence is Nick Drake. Right now, he is really into Mandolin Orange who he said is a really cool duo.
Soltz really likes collaborating with other people. He plays solo because it’s easier to find gigs but digs jamming with others. Wherever and whoever he’s playing with, he really enjoys it.
“I like to express myself and make a positive impact on the world and on folks who are listening to me, take them out of their heads for a bit, entertain and inspire them.”
Courtesy of Dave Hoffenberg