The death has been announced of David Eaves, musician, songwriter, woodworker and classical music teacher, who co-founded acoustic band Dulcimer in the late 1960s. Eaves, fellow songwriter and artist Peter Hodge, and bass player Jem North, achieved critical acclaim following the 1971 release, on Larry Page’s Nepentha label, of their folk influenced album …And I turned as I had turned as a boy…. A notable feature on several ‘soundscape’ songs was the inclusion of the band’s poetry spoken by actor Richard Todd, who had heard the trio playing in a restaurant in Chipping Campden and immediately recognised their potential.
There was considerable critical and media interest in the album following a press launch at Ronnie Scott’s and TV appearances in Holland and Austria. A second album, Room for Thought was completed, but this was shelved before release at the eleventh hour and commercial success eluded the band. Dulcimer continued gigging and recording on a semi-professional basis, including a privately released album, A Land fit for Heroes featuring Fred Archer, the Worcestershire rural life writer and raconteur, about his memories of the First and Second World Wars. The trio disbanded in the late 1970s.
However, in the 1990s, following a resurgence of interest in their music, writers Eaves-Hodge reformed Dulcimer and recruited multi-instrumentalist Mike Hooper. They returned to live gigging and between 1993 and 1997 recorded three further albums on the President record label run by the Kassner family. For these releases guest musicians and singers were used sparingly to suit the mood of Dulcimer’s gentle and often introspective songs. The early 1990s also saw the release of the long lost second album, Room for Thought, on the small Background collectors’ label. With internet interest in the band remaining high, all five albums continue to sell steadily worldwide.
Perhaps because of the clarity of their acoustic sound, but also reflecting the inherent melodic and literate qualities of the best of the Eaves-Hodge song-writing, Dulcimer achieved something of a cult status in Europe, USA Japan and the far east. To this day devotees regard them as iconic representatives of 1970s progressive folk-inspired music. Vinyl copies of the first album with its artistic ‘pre-Raphaeliteesque’ gate-fold cover, are much prized by collectors.
David lived in Worcester and most recently in rural Herefordshire, enjoying family life and a successful career teaching classical guitar and woodworking. Creative on several fronts throughout his life, he also wrote a play and a musical. In later years he was drawn towards and into ecclesiastical music and composition through his deeply held Christian convictions.
David Eaves, musician, songwriter, woodworker and teacher, born 24 December 1950, died 5 September 2011. Survived by his widow, children and grandchildren.