Nicholas David, an alum of NBC’s “The Voice,” will showcase that musical sweet spot between Mumford & Sons and Maxwell at Sunday’s Smile Network International gala at the Fine Line in Minneapolis.
“Folksy soul, how music used to be. The music that I make is from the heart for the heart,” David told me Wednesday at Forepaugh’s restaurant in St. Paul, ahead of dinner with “my gal” and their three young sons. He calls himself “a family man’’ who believes strongly in “hope and healing” and “music as medicine.”
He was able to give salve to some souls on his recent trip to Puebla, Mexico, with Smile Network, an organization that improves the lives and faces of poor children.
David returned from that trip with “perspective — a huge dose of perspective.”
“You hear about things and you read things and see things on TV,” he said. “But when you experience them yourself … it really blew my heart and mind wide open.”
David’s performance will probably do the same during his Smile Network appearance, for which there are still tickets available at www.FineLineMusic.com. He’s sure to be attired in his signature haberdashery, which we discussed here and in my startribune.com/video.
Q: Are the days of “American Idol” numbered?
A: I honestly couldn’t tell you.
Q: Are there too many reality talent shows on TV?
A: I think maybe, but I also feel the people respond to that. It feels like “I’m one of them.”
Q: What’s your guilty pleasure song? (Think “Afternoon Delight.”)
A: [Laugh] I think maybe pre-“Voice” I maybe had guilty pleasures. I shattered all that when I was on the show. I had no idea of popular culture. I was listening to like traditional Indian music. So I started listening to pop music and finding I may not agree with the message but I agree with the vocal or the beat. I hear everything now as just music to music. I don’t think I have a guilty pleasure; it’s all music.
Q: Is there anything you can’t forget about Cee Lo Green, your “Voice” mentor?
A: [Laugh] He’s a ball of energy. He’s busier than I’m busy, he’s constantly moving, trying to plant seeds for his family.
Q: Do you have Cee Lo’s cell number?
A: I do.
Q: How much did the Voice staffers try to tweak your style?
A: When we initially met with wardrobe, we had to [answer the question] When we wake up who do we try to dress like? I always would say, Myself. Who would you try to sound like? Myself. Who do you try to sound like? Myself. One thing they did tweak though was at [the end of] “Play That Funky Music.” I actually had a golden cape made. It was awesome. It was so big and I was really working it during the dress rehearsal. Then we heard from the producer: Nick David, you’ve got to lose the cape. So they took the cape. Then one time during dress rehearsal I had a pretty sweet Samurai ponytail going and the producer said, You’ve got to lose the Samurai. Otherwise they were pretty supportive.
Q: Do you get hot on stage between the hat, scarf and blazer?
A: Yeah, that’s why I keep a doo rag on [he doffs his hat] to catch the sweat. And also as a little nod to JD [Sykes, now deceased], the bass player I used to play with; he always kept a doo rag on himself.
Q: How many scarfs, hats and blazers do you have?
A: I keep them on a rack thing I found. I think I’ve got between 20 and 40. I’m not going to divulge the location or the secret of the scarves. I probably have close to 10 hats now. Blazers I used to only go for when they had the patch on the elbow. I think anything that has a nifty lapel catches my eye.
Q: What famous musicians are in your dream band?
A: I think a good chunk of them have already passed. I’d roll with Willie Nelson, Leon Russell, Jon Cleary on keys, Dave Holland on upright bass, Paul Winter, Chuck Mangione.
Q: You are Mr. Peace and Love. What is the most frantic aspect of your life?
A: Trying to be on time. I’ve never really used time. I’ve always been far behind [bending over his guitar and laughing].
Q: You’ve got three boys. Any musicians among them?
A: I think all of them. It’s cool. We do after-dinner dance parties. One will grab a mike, one will dance, one will go [to the] keyboard off to the side by these plants. [They’ve] all got rhythm and it’s so awesome it warms my heart to see. It’s hysterical. Even the young buck, he’s on it.
Interviews are edited. To contact C.J. try firstname.lastname@example.org and to see her watch Fox 9’s “Buzz.”