Panama Dave Parrett
B i o g r a p h y
I've been playing stringed instruments since 1959, when I began taking violin lessons. The violin was eventually abandoned, but not before reaching Grade VIII and becoming the Leader of the Oxford County Youth Orchestra at 16. In 1967 my parents gave me a Spanish guitar for Christmas, and it slowly but surely replaced the violin as my go-to instrument. Having also tried my hand at 12-string, autoharp, dulcimer, mandolin, eukelele, sitar, banjo, zither, psaltery and double bass, I now concentrate on acoustic six-string guitar and my most recent toy, a fretless acoustic 4-string bass guitar.
I've formed a number of bands through the years, achieving varying measures of musical success but uniformly low levels of derived income - Châtelet and Alibi in Oxford, Chop Logic in Surrey, Search Party in San Francisco and the Prairie Clams back in Oxford again.
Châtelet made the semi-finals of the Melody Maker Band Competition in 1974, and opened for Mungo Jerry
at an Oriel College Ball, and for Roy Harper and Fairport Convention at the Polytechnic, now Brookes
Search Party, a 10-year collaboration with John LoGiudici, opened for Mel Tormé and
George Shearing in the 'Concerts Under The Stars' series at UC Irvine, California, where
we played two 45-minute sets to a crowd of 18,000. We also opened for The Temptations
at Apple Computers' tenth birthday party in San Francisco.
Moving to London in 2009, I performed tirelessly for the next few years, racking up
over 1,000 performances in less than a decade. Most of these appearances were as a
solo artist, but also as a duo with Latvian blues legend Kalvin Zemzaris, as a trio with
Kalvin and Lily Shea, and as a quartet with Curveball, who appeared at Jazz After Dark
in Soho and The Bull's Head in Barnes. I stood in as bass player for the Mark Harrison
Band and for Andy Sharrocks and the Smokin' Jackets, and accompanied a variety of
very gifted international singers, encompassing many styles including folk (Israel),
classical (Poland), rock (Ukraine), afro-fusion (Nigeria), pop ballads (Spain) and
even grunge (Italy).
Having hosted Open Mic Nights and showcases in Streatham and Acton, I then
found a venue closer to home. The Creative Cricklewood Open Mic Night and
Art Show at the Windmill on Cricklewood Broadway launched in November 2012,
and the event was a great success. Another full house the following month and it
was clearly destined to become a regular fixture. By the time the Windmill closed its
doors at the end of 2014, the Creative Cricklewood team had put on 60 shows and 25 art exhibitions.
As a working pensioner, I no longer make much effort to try and find paying gigs, but still enjoy performing at least once or twice a week at open mics (most notably at the Magic Garden in Battersea most Tuesdays) and the occasional showcase. With the humble ambition of reaching at least one person each time I play, I'm rarely disappointed.