North Shore musician Dave Bailin has received a lot of notice lately for his seven year old band Dave Bailin & The Bailouts. This singer-songwriter-guitarists from the classic rock and blues schools of thought honed his skills through many years as an open mic host and from slogging his way through many bands with varying degrees of success to arrive at where he is today. Some highlights from his career and life and music shed some light on the kind of success he is having today.
Dave Bailin & The Bailouts formed back in 2009 by circumstance. His guitarist’s parents, up until last spring, had owned the restaurant and music venue In The Pig’s Eye up. Bailin had been living across the street from Pig’s Eye since 1997 and he eventually started playing with the previous owner’s son, a young guitarist named Eric Reardon. The two began playing together in duos until Bailin met Berklee trained drummer Steve Peabody while reconnecting with his former bassist Eli Timmons, from a much older project.
The latest Bailin project was named after a contemporary political term. “It was Eli’s idea. He said you should call it Dave Bailin & The Bailouts,” Bailin recounted. “It was kind of topical at the time. Obama had just become president with all the bail outs.”
Before this current band, Bailin had left behind him a trail of projects, having hosted open mics and having played in bands since he had graduated from high school in 1989. It was difficult to get a band going in his early days, so he started hosting open mics.
“I really cut my teeth doing a gig up in Dover, New Hampshire Sundays, a place called Durgin’s,” he said. Bailin found that the people there were most interested in jamming with him rather than getting up on stage by themselves, making Durgin’s the venue where he first learned how to play with other players and where he had learned a lot of new material he wasn’t already familiar with.
Yet, the first open mic he had been hosting was at the old Sportsman’s Lodge in Newburyport, a place where used to wash dishes and bus tables, as he had lived within walking distance of the room. “I’m still friends with a lot of people I met at that open mic,” he said.
Back around 1990 the singer-songwriter-guitarist formed The Bailin Band, using some horn players in that band, and being influenced by John Hammond’s Southern Fried. “He had a dirty sounding band,” Bailin said. “Greg Allmond plays guitar on this record. What I really liked about the album was it was bluesy but you could hear everything real clearly. You could hear everything real clearly. You could hear exactly what the bass was playing, the guitar was playing, the horn lines. It was all simple, but it was right in the pocket. I kind of modeled my sound after it.”
Bailin actually began his music training as a child, becoming a fan of his parents’ record collectors. Blues, jazz, Motown could be heard playing in their living room, a room with a record player but no TV.
His father was a big influence on him at that time. “He’d tell me a story, he could get the legends of how they died,” Bailin said, recalling how his father would tell him that Sam Cooke was murdered by a lady friend. Those stories had haunted Bailin’s young imagination, keeping him fascinated with all kinds of music. He was listening to oldies, doo-op, 1960s music at a time in his life when most children were listening to AM hits.
Bailin picked up one of his father’s harmonicas before he had picked up a guitar. He was blowing notes before he had picked up a guitar and started banging out chords and notes.
“I had all kinds of stereo equipment in this room,” he said. “I used to make tapes.” His father had to buy him an amplifier for Christmas so he wouldn’t blow fuses and tubes in his stereo. Bailin’s next step was to play and sing at summer camp, at night time, before the other kids all went to sleep.
Bailin’s second influence at the time was a Bob Dylan album he had found in his uncle’s record collection The music on that Dylan record blew his mind and made him want to become a songwriter. “I wanted to do what Dylan was doing,” he said. “So, I actually made myself a harmonica holder out of a coat hanger and a rubber band, and I got a cheap guitar, and I started taking some lessons.” His music teacher gave him a real harmonica and some lessons on how to play guitar and harmonica.
Bailin had started The Bailin Band, which worked out for a little while, but he eventually moved onto forming Spot The Looney, an originals band that had played The Middle East, Mama Kin’s, The Linwood, and other name venues around greater-Boston. He also took it as far north as Maine. Spot The Looney had pulled Bailin into modern music at a time when Pearl Jam was coming out and he was still old school. His new band mates influenced him while he was influencing them with his old school interests. “We ended up writing some really good stuff,” he said. “We put out a couple of tapes we recorded.”
Bailin moved to Salem, Massachusetts, meaning Spot The Looney had to break up, as Bailin was living a bit further away. He was soon into a band called Sweet Tooth, booking gigs at Dodge Street Grill and other North Shore venues.
Bailin’s last two albums were a Dave Bailin & The Bail Outs studio album and an acoustic duo album with guitarist Eric Reardon. The studio album was initially supposed to be a two song project, but Bailin got so in depth with the process, that he soon had an album’s worth of material. “I spent a year going back to the studio once a week, bringing in some horn players,” he said. “I brought in Jenny Dee to do back ups on a song.”
Bailin recently released his acoustic duo album because he wanted to stay active. He has also been playing a lot of acoustic gigs, so he wanted to have something to reflect that interest. “I went in there one night. I brought Eric with me,” Bailin said. “We have 11 songs on that record. We recorded them all in one night with one night to mix it and one night to master it. We cranked it out that fast.”
The guitarist-singer-songwriter would now like to get back into the studio with his full band. His concept is to make a great rock and roll album with two and a half minute songs on it. “My last album had seven minute songs on it. That’s a lot of work,” he said. “I got inspired. I’ve been listening to The Beatles lately, Rubber Soul, Revolver. In two and a half minutes, they put a lot into a song. There’s no shortage of lyrics. It rocks. There’s solos.”
Dave Bailin is certainly a young man in a hurry. His breathless enthusiasm forces him to take his music as far north as Maine and as far south as the Florida Keys. Music fans in any of those places should go see him soon.