David Ralston

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David Ralston is a Kokomo Indiana native who saw the light in Indiana in the late 80s. That light was the Allman Brothers' "Live at the Fillmore" album. Ralston, a drummer since age 6, started glancing furtively at the guitar in the corner. Within a year, Ralston was running a 3/4" socket up and down the strings and honing the sounds that Duane Allman had made, with a few innovations of his own.David Ralston

By 1993, Ralston was in Austin, Texas, and happened upon Jimmie Vaughan, Soul Hat, and Ian Moore in Antone's. That which had caused so many young guitarists at these shows to dream about the future sent Ralston sliding into the past, searching for the blues masters who gave birth to what he was hearing at the time. Of course, Eric Clapton came to mind. But he went deeper into time, with Muddy Waters, Elmore James, Son House, and Robert Johnson. According to him, he never came back.

Ralston burst onto the American Music Scene in September of 1998 with his initial production, "Indiana Slim," produced and recorded in Terre Haute, Indiana by Dave Kyle, a studio and live touring veteran with credits ranging from Vince Gill, and Chet Atkins to Danny Gatton and many others. Backed on his debut album by Steve Rusin, a world-class blues harmonica player, Ralston combines a sophisticated and sizzling slide guitar technique, usually lashed out on his 1934 National Steel guitar or his 1959 Fender Stratocaster, with an industry-alerting voice wrapped around finely crafted songs.

His crowd-inciting performances combine the best of traditional blues, with nuances suggesting Son House and Muddy Waters, with a robust contemporary quality completely unique to Ralston. Ralston's songs speak of his deeper fascination and genuine love for the people he has encountered from Austin, Texas to Terra Haute, Indiana and from Tokyo to Okinawa.

Ralston's second album, "Nail it Down," was produced by rock music icon Delaney Bramlett who produced such greats as Eric Clapton. George Harrison. Duane Allman.

Ralston had sought Bramlett out, excited at the possibility of working with the man who had so heavily influenced the greatest rock guitarists of their generation. The result was a four-day recording session at Delaney's "Rock and Roll Lane" home in Southern California that produced a recording destined to be a classic.

On the recording, Ralston used George Harrison's rosewood telecaster and Eric Clapton's Fender Champ amplifier (used on Clapton's first album). Ralston also had the great honor of ripping into slide solos using the same 1962 Strat that Duane had used on the Bramlett album.

By the time Bramlett (producer/arranger) had finished mixing the album, "Nail It Down," Ralston was off to the Far East, not only playing the blues, but also living them; his signature etched into the very grooves of the blues masters. Armed with some of the finest session players in the world, Ralston was studying his work carefully, reinventing and serving his mess of blues to every U.S. Marine and sailor in the Japanese territories who would listen. And they all listened; the Commanding General of all Marine Corps Forces in Japan sent Ralston to play for every Marine and sailor in the Pacific fleet for a program aptly called, "Beating the Blues."

The Americans weren't the only ones who listened. Ralston had an enthusiastic, rapidly growing audience of Japanese who didn't understand all the words, but got the message in the music with the aid of live radio and television broadcasts and seemingly endless packed nights at the live music houses and clubs from Naha to Tokyo.

Just as Bramlett taught Clapton to put the music in his heart and his heart in his songs, Ralston honed his vocal talents to a razor-edged bite at the hands of the master that had built the fire in the music of rock music's greatest. Ralston came away obsessed with the reality of reinventing back-to-the-roots Americana music. ~Les Coles

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