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Brewsician: Dave Clark
Local musician and craft beer expert, pens book and album
By Connor Dziawura, Phoenix.org
One could argue that Fountain Hills’ Dave Clark is Arizona’s foremost “brewsician.” On one hand a singer-songwriter, the Cleveland native also has decades of experience in craft beer.
He identifies as one of two master-level beer judges (through the Beer Judge Certification Program) in Arizona and is also a Certified Cicerone who has worked at various small- to large-scale breweries, doing everything from sales to distribution and even brewing. Now, Clark has written his first book, “Phoenix Beer: A History Rising to New Peaks.”
Published in late November, the book comes just months after Clark released his debut solo album, “Rock City.” He also frequently writes for publications about one passion, while performing the other at restaurants and bars across the state.
“It’s really kind of funny how it all came out,” Clark admits of the book, which he wrote while working on his album. “When you think about what you want to do in your life, you set your goals. I never actually made a true bucket list, but there are things that you know that you want to do. And, on my list was record multiple albums, but I wanted to write at least one book and I wasn’t sure what that would be. If I would’ve had to venture a guess, I probably would have guessed something in music.”
The hardest part of getting to that point, however, is finding a publisher, he says. Luckily for Clark, Arcadia Publishing found him. He says the company discovered him through his freelance writing and asked that he contribute to a growing series of books that explores the history of beer in different cities. He had already committed to recording an album, but he buckled down and made sure he could meet his publisher’s deadline, too. The album and book were finished within a week of each other, he says. “Phoenix Beer: A History Rising to New Peaks” was released by Arcadia Publishing on November 25.
When approaching the book’s subject matter, he thought back to the time he spent more than a decade preparing to open his own brewery. He never did, but because of the hurdles that taught him, he chose to pay tribute to those who did achieve such goals.
“I wanted my book to represent the people more than the beers because, for the most part in craft breweries, a lot of the beers change,” Clark explains. “Today you’re brewing an IPA with Simcoe hops and tomorrow you’re brewing that same beer with Citra hops. The beers evolve, but the people are the constant behind the breweries. “I wanted to feature them, talk about how it went from idea in the mind to reality in the world and what that process looks like, and know the struggles they might have had, the obstacles they had overcome. I wanted to tell those stories. So it was not only informational but also a little bit inspirational.
As a musician, Clark’s resume includes work with bands such as Fatal Vision, Dreamer, Auntie Social, Rough House, Baby Blue and Dia Pason, though he went solo in the early 1990s. On the 11-track “Rock City,” Clark handles most of the instrumentation. “I’m probably what you would call either pleasantly or unpleasantly a control freak,” he says. “I have a vision of what the songs are supposed to sound like. I don’t write a part of a song or I don’t have an idea for a song; I write the song start to finish, every note of every instrument. I write every word. I know where it’s going to be louder and quieter and faster and slower. I see the whole song in my head.”
Dave Clark released his debut album, “Rock City,” on August 30. With the record, Clark wanted to hark back to the late ’80s, when he was fully immersed in hair metal. He says the spirit of the genre is alive and well in today’s melodic rock—just without the Spandex and hairspray. That, he says, has earned his songs regular rotation on the Greek internet station Rock Melodic Radio as well as in countries like Italy and Wales.
“You put your album out online and all of a sudden you start hearing from people all over the world,” he says. “It’s really interesting, because that never would have happened 20 years ago.”
While music and craft beer may seem like two entirely different worlds, for Clark they’re one in the same. “I think the perfect tie-in between these things is simply that if there’s any craft beer bar, if there’s a brewery, if there’s any place that values craft beer that also has live music, I’m that perfect person for them to look at, because not only can I be up on stage entertaining, I can talk to them about the different beers that are being featured,” he says.
Because many people aren’t familiar with Clark’s originals, he puts a heavy emphasis on covers in his live sets. So, he spends much of his time exploring classic tunes from the 1960s to the ’80s, occasionally dabbling in the ’50s and ’90s and working in originals from “Rock City,” all while engaging the audience. And to keep his idea of authenticity, the performances are stripped down—just him and a guitar.
“There are so many local musicians that are just background music, and I simply don’t choose to be that. I choose for it to be more of a show, and I want people to be as interactive as possible,” he explains. “That’s what I aspire to, and that’s what I go for every time I play.” For more information, visit daveclarkmusician.com or brewsician.com.