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Cowboy Dave Stamey lassoes in new audience

Dave Stamey – John Brady
Dave Stamey - John Brady
Stamey rehearsed with McIntyre and orchestra students throughout the week. Photo by John Brady.

Country and orchestral music may not seem like a natural fit, but this weekend’s concert in Herrick Chapel will aim to bring the two together in perfect harmony. This Saturday, April 16, Dave Stamey, a renowned country singer and 18-time Western Music Association award winner, will perform ten of his songs in a joint concert with the Grinnell Symphony Orchestra. The orchestra will accompany Stamey as he sings and plays guitar.

This will be Stamey’s first time performing with an orchestra. The partnership was the brainchild of Professor Eric McIntyre, Music, who is the Director of the Grinnell Symphony Orchestra and a longtime Dave Stamey fan. McIntyre suggested that Stamey perform with the orchestra, and Stamey jumped at the opportunity. The two then worked together to build the program.

“It gives me another opportunity to connect with an entirely different audience,” Stamey said. “If nothing else, it will open up what I do to other ears, and it’s certainly going to be a great experience for me.”

McIntyre built the songs around the current instruments in the Grinnell Symphony Orchestra.

The trick was to try to keep the songs true to the original but also allow for new instrumental parts.

“He and I together selected the songs that we would perform and then I took the recordings and created orchestra parts around them,” McIntyre said. “As a composer and an orchestrator, it’s me listening to his music and seeing what kinds of things I think would enhance it without getting in the way.”

The concert is the result of months of work and McIntyre is excited for the unique opportunity.

“The fact that it’s his first time with an orchestra, that it’s been a dream of his, that it was a dream of mine to bring him to play with the orchestra I think there’s a lot of good positive energy and it’s bound to be something above and beyond what we normally would see,” he said.

Stamey, who describes himself as a cowboy folksinger storyteller, worked as a cowboy, mule packer and various other ranch jobs before he became a performer.

“I started playing music around a campfire for folks and it sort of snowballed from there,” Stamey said of his 23-year career.

Stamey writes many of his songs about his experiences as a cowboy. He enjoys connecting with the audience through his storytelling and watching the impact his music has on people.

“[Music] is very immediate, very emotional, very direct. I think it’s the fastest way to reach the core of a human being. I love to tell stories through music … you can fashion an experience for the audience that they would never have any other way,” he said.

Stamey also enjoys giving visibility to rural lifestyles, which he says are often overlooked in the media.

“I travel around to a lot of small rural communities and I think the people there appreciate the fact that there’s someone out there telling their stories,” he said.

Student orchestra members say this out-of-the-box thinking is not uncommon of McIntyre.

“Eric likes to do a lot of interesting things … he likes to do some things that are more out of the box, some things that you wouldn’t necessarily expect from a generic symphony orchestra,” said Katie Parrish ’18, the Grinnell Symphony Orchestra’s principal cellist. “He’s got his finger on the pulse in terms of what there is out there in music and what would be fun to do.”

The performance is Saturday, April 16, in Herrick Chapel at 7:30 p.m.

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