The American dream
More than 100 bands from Kent take to the stage at the free Local and Live Festival. Yet headliners David Migden and the Dirty Words will bring some of the Americana roots underbelly of Arkansas to the four-day event, writes Chris Price.
One thing is certain when David Migden and the Dirty Words headline the Local and Live Festival – David will get out his megaphone. “Some people like to listen to a voice just the way it is, but I like to pull away from that and make it a little bit nasty,” said the Kent-born but US-raised front man. “I don’t want to just make music which is pretty. I want to make music which is ugly as well. The megaphone is just another way of making my voice sound – and visually it looks interesting.” That earthy, warts-and-all style has earned David and his band top billing at the free festival on the Pantiles in Tunbridge Wells, which runs from Friday, August 24 until Bank Holiday Monday. They headline on Sunday as part of the showcase of more than 100 acts from the county. “It’s a fantastic festival,” said David, who has lived in Whitstable for 10 years with his wife and children. “It is a really positive thing for the community. There seems to be a real energy about the whole music scene in Tunbridge Wells. “A lot of that is down to [festival organiser] Paul Dunton and his weekly live music nights at the Grey Lady, which has created a fan base where people are really open to hearing original stuff. “We loved playing there last year and we are seriously looking forward to headlining this year.” All this is a far cry from the lakes and snakes of Little Rock, Arkansas, where David grew up. Born in Chatham, his family moved to the USA when David was a toddler and did not move back to Kent until he was 18. His father a musician and his mother a dancer and choreographer, he moved from Tunbridge Wells to Whitstable to pursue his musical career. “My biggest influence has been listening to my father’s record collection,” he said. “Having music around all the time and both my parents being in the entertainment industry made the option of making a living as a musician much more acceptable to them. “I used to do loads of gigs in Whitstable and it is a real music town. It is quite a happening place really. Lots of musicians live there and the place has such a good vibe about it so I decided to move. Maybe it was a strange decision as I had only ever seen the town at night.” The band launch their new album, Killing It, during their headline slot at Local and Live. David has done many albums before, releasing his record Little Stranger as a solo artist before he teamed up with the Dirty Words and released Second Hand Tattoo. The band also featured on the soundtrack of the film Mr Nice starring Rhys Ifans, covering Don’t Bogart That Joint with BJ Cole on pedal steel guitar. The latest record is typical of the band’s blues roots crossover, with some funk, country and rock influences. “One of the most amazing influences on this record has been other musicians,” said David. “It has been about listening to what other people listen to and the people in my band. I write the music but when we come to rehearsal, the music comes to life as people put in their own ideas and personality.”