About David Wilcox
Based out of Asheville, North Carolina, singer/songwriter David Wilcox first established himself as a mainstay in American folk music in the late 1980s, fusing warmly sung, personal storytelling with an inventive acoustic guitar style that frequently relied on open tunings and a system of customized capos used to alter his instrument's range. His poetic lyricism and intimate stage persona have earned him comparisons to James Taylor, and his guitar approach to that of Nick Drake and Joni Mitchell. A thoughtful blend of folk, pop, and jazz styles, his 1989 A&M debut, How Did You Find Me Here, sold over 100,000 copies largely by word of mouth, representing a grassroots-oriented engagement with his fans that has lasted throughout Wilcox's career. A stint on the Koch label yielded the 1996 fan favorite concert album East Asheville Hardware, while later releases like 2005's Out Beyond Ideas -- a collaboration with his wife, Nance Pettit, which set sacred spiritual poetry to music -- would appear via Colorado-based indie What Are Records?
Born in Mentor, Ohio in 1958, Wilcox attended Antioch College in Yellow Springs before transferring to Warren Wilson College in North Carolina, the state he would call home for most of his career. Inspired to pick up the guitar after hearing a friend play in a stairwell at Antioch, his commitment to music deepened in the early '80s, and he played regularly at a venue in Black Mountain, North Carolina called McDibbs. His independent debut, The Nightshift Watchman, was released in 1987, launching both his recording and touring career. After a show at Nashville songwriter hot spot the Bluebird Cafe, Wilcox signed with A&M and released his label debut, How Did You Find Me Here, in 1989. The tastefully stripped-down arrangements were focused largely on his warmly crafted songs, easy baritone vocals, and nimble guitar work, a formula that would remain more or less intact for each of his subsequent releases. Over the next five years, he toured regularly, releasing two albums for A&M with 1991's Home Again and 1994's Big Horizon, with the semi-live rarities collection, Almost Live: An Authorized Bootleg (1991), rounding out his A&M canon. In spite of his homegrown fan network and acclaim from critics as an underrated artist, Wilcox wasn't able to put up the big numbers needed to remain on a major-label roster and was dropped from A&M in 1995.
His output in the late '90s remained of high quality, while also representing a turning point in his career, which he examined on the aptly titled 1997 release Turning Point, a record he recorded himself in a cabin behind his home. His second outing for the Koch label, it followed 1996's East Asheville Hardware, a live release featuring some of his more esoteric and humorous fan favorites. A switch to the Vanguard label yielded 1999's Underneath and 2000's What You Whispered, after which Wilcox took up a long-term residency on the roster of former EMI executive Rob Gordon's Boulder-based indie What Are Records? After A&M collated his major-label years on The Very Best of David Wilcox anthology, the singer offered up his own collection with the 2002 concert album Live Songs & Stories. The 2000s proved to be a fruitful period with a string of quality releases like Out Beyond Ideas, the 2005 collaboration with his wife, Nance Pettit which paired sacred poetry with music from a variety of global religious traditions. A cross-country road trip with his son in a vintage Airstream trailer was commemorated on 2008's Airstream. If not stylistically explorative, 2009's Open Hand and 2010's Reverie each represented Wilcox's enduring reliability as a writer, continuing to expand an already well-made body of work. In 2011, he offered a pair of self-released, digital-only outings with Live at Eddie's Attic, a document of a show at the Atlanta venue, and the archival early years Mixtape 1979-1982. Returning to the studio, Wilcox issued 2014's Blaze, which offered a more robust full-band sound than on previous releases. Four years later, 2018's The View from the Edge returned to the rich acoustic world and thoughtful lyricism that have been his hallmarks. ~ Timothy Monger
BORNMarch 9, 1958