Dave Evans has long been described as ‘one of the best bluegrass singers you’ve never heard of before.’ Evans sings with a power and soul that few others possess, and that comes from sheer talent as well as a life lived hard.
Evans grew up along the Ohio River and further inland in the Buckeye State of Ohio. His father, known as Pop, was a clawhammer-style banjo player and by eight years of age Evans had acquired the five-string bug. As a young up-and-coming musician, Evans honed his craft during some stints with great bluegrass musicians such as Earl Taylor, Red Allen, the Goins Brothers and The Boys From Indiana. Evans also spent a few influential years with another bluegrass legend in Larry Sparks.
“In 1972 came the opportunity I had been waiting for all of my life, to play hard driving bluegrass music,” says Evans. “I went to work for Mr. Larry Sparks and became one of the Lonesome Ramblers. I helped Mr. Sparks with five long-play albums and his personal appearances in 1972 and 1973. I sang tenor for Mr. Sparks and this helped me to create a singing style that I have to this day.”
By the late 1970s, Evans had formed the group Dave Evans and River Bend. With his banjo, guitar, singing and songwriting skills on full display, he began to record his own albums. In 1981, he cut his first record for Rebel Records, the first of eight recordings made for the label. In 2008, Rebel Records also released The Best of the Vetco Years, which further showcased Evans’ career, including his classic song “Highway 52.”
Evans’ 2006 album Pretty Green Hills features a newer classic by the singer with the title cut. Written by the award-winning songwriters Tom T. and Dixie Hall, “Pretty Green Hills” is a heartfelt number that only Evans can bring to life in the right way, about an old timer who wanted to see the hills of his youth one more time before dying.
Evans has inspired many a singer along the way, from James King to Alison Krauss. In a 2007 interview with Bluegrass Unlimited magazine, Krauss said, “I remember when I heard Dave Evans the first time in Indiana at a festival and he’s up there singing and I’m like, ‘My goodness!’ It gives me the same feeling to watch Paul Rogers [rock singer for the groups Free and Bad Company] as to watch Dave Evans. Or, you might want to say vice versa, watching Dave Evans is the same thing as watching Paul Rogers. Passionate singing, it doesn’t really matter which genre of music it comes from.”
“Money, I’ve always heard said, can’t buy happiness or love (true love that is)!” says Evans. “But for me, Dave Evans, my true love lies in bluegrass music. She’s always been faithful, never lied or let me down through all the years. She is ‘my’ true foundation to happiness. I’ve handed her my heart and soul. Through the storms of life, she has sheltered me; she has made me laugh and has made me cry. She has never left me lonely or forgotten, like so many promises in life do. No, oh no! She instead has given me beautiful sweet reminders of all my friends, family and fans alike that I can recall forever. I have never hungered because she has fed me. There has always been ‘One Loaf of Bread’. Yes sir, I’ll say indeed, these are my bluegrass memories, too! For all these reasons alone, I thank my God for giving her to me. Now children, I’ve but one thing left to say; I am mighty proud of and have earned every gray hair she has put on my head.”
In 2010, Evans retired from a full schedule of touring. His body of work on Rebel Records continues as a great testament to his unique talent.