On the road … again
Brother Dan Palmer
In January 2006, Dan Palmer left the Biggest Little City on a motorcycle—guitar slung across his back—and a mission: not simply to see where the road took him, but what lyrics and melodies might emerge. It was, to say the least, an odyssey.
For six months, Palmer gigged in Austin, Texas and San Diego, Calif., enjoyed a siesta in Mexico and sailed a sublime three months aboard his best friend’s boat in Florida. The result of that journey is Nothin’ Better Than This, Palmer’s forthcoming, 10-track, self-released CD. Fresh from performances at Burning Man and wrapping recording at a Carson City studio, Palmer isn’t looking back—he’s moving forward.
At age 6, he started studying classical guitar. By age 8, the Ohio native was playing the Midwest church circuit.
“My mom and dad would speak, and I’d sing,” he says. “I did 20 or 30 shows a year, took guitar lessons and sang in the school choir. Those things helped develop my style.”
The family moved to Tahoe in 1976, and two years later, the 16-year-old began performing professionally.
Playing covers and polishing his stage persona have paid off.
“I do over a thousand cover tunes,” says Palmer. “That’s how I’ve made my living for a long time, but I always knew eventually that I wanted to do original music.”
Palmer opened for such acts as Men at Work, Three Dog Night, Foghat, Canned Heat and War. And then things began to get complicated.
“I went through life changes the past five years,” he says. “I was the music pastor at a large church and left—that had a profound effect on me. Then I was diagnosed with Hepatitis C.” He fought the disease into remission, but it took its toll on Palmer.
“The realization of mortality,” he says. “Places I want to see and music to make” were the impetus for hitting the road on the motorcycle.
Palmer’s new mission was to write original music, sans the annoying day job. “If I were tied to a job, I wouldn’t be able to go to Europe, like I’m about to, for three weeks,” he says.
With performances lined up at Scotland’s famed Whistlebinkie’s and Bernau Stub’n in Germany for Oktoberfest, Palmer forged connections during his journeys that opened the door to gigs there this fall.
“I played everywhere I went,” he says, adding that his coming trek will allow him to play St. Andrews at “the old course, where golf was invented.”
Before he departs, Palmer will rock stages at Porky’s, Anchors Bar & Grill and The Fresh Ketch, with musical themes of love, letting go, hope and renewal.
“For me, music is life,” says Palmer. “I’m trying to cut through to the heart of the matter, to be real honest with myself. That’s difficult to put out in front of people; that this really is me, the joys and pains I’ve [endured]. Yet the reaction is pretty strong. I’ve always been kind of upbeat. I love life [and] music. I try to bring a positive slant to everything, although there are songs on the CD that aren’t real happy.”
They are, Palmer acknowledges, bittersweet.
“Somebody called it, ‘really nice music with rather intense lyrics,'” he says.
Nothin’ Better Than This is my first, all-original CD. That expresses, for me, that life is good. I get to do something I love: make music, travel, meet people. That’s not a lifestyle for everybody, but it is for me.”