They could have fooled us. Last weekend at Codfish Hollow’s 2nd Annual GARP Fest, the duet called Dickie got high marks from our group. My husband, Dan, and our friends, Mark and Lisa, enjoyed Dick Prall’s strong vocals and guitar, paired with violinist Becca Smith.
“In a sense, the violin replaces lead guitar,” Prall said of the string accompaniment. I learned Smith is a classically-trained violinist whose stage experience includes time with the Central Iowa Symphony in Ames and a turn with the popular alt-country Iowa band, The Nadas.
Bathed in pretty purple light on the outdoor stage at Codfish, the rebirthed Dickie looked and sounded great with Smith’s violin adding a nice soaring dimension and sometimes punchy counterpart to Prall’s easy-to-take vocal tone and downplayed guitar. Prall later told me he was in need of a violinist (to replace former collaborator Kristina Priceman) when he noticed on Facebook Smith was back in Iowa after living in Denver for awhile.
I recognized a change in personnel from a Dickie show at The Triple Crown Bar and Raccoon Motel earlier this year but was shocked to learn GARP was the first time Smith joined Prall on stage. The Iowa natives (Prall hails from Sheffield and Smith is from Johnston) have known each other for several years but just started playing together about a month ago. They’d been preparing for what was to be their first performance later last weekend in Decorah. They were halfway through a practice in Cedar Rapids the afternoon of the GARP show when Prall got word the festival had a slot open for that night. Smith agreed to the jumpstart gig.
GARP Set List for Dickie;
- The Last One
- Getting Home
- Copperhead Town
- Long Play
- Breathing Down My Neck Again
- Back to the Moon
I asked Smith if she had improvised during the inaugural set. “No, I listened to the albums to learn the the specific notes and parts,” she said.
Prall’s songwriting demonstrates a good variety in sound and topic. At GARP, Cat Stevens’ Tea For the Tillerman came to mind which now seems logical; I read Stevens was an early influence for Prall. He didn’t see a need to describe his music by a specific genre when I asked if it is folk or pop or rock or Americana. “Yes, sure,” he answers. “People get too caught with the traditional instruments or how you are suppose to accessorize if you are playing Americana or whatever.”
You can find a nice selection of Dickie music on Spotify and if you live near Cedar Rapids, check out Dick’s Tap and Shake Room at 1602 E Ave, Cedar Rapids. That’s Prall’s new venture and by scanning the website and following Prall on Instagram, it looks like a fun time for those who enjoy music (with live Prall-selected acts plus karaoke), football watching with your buddies and drink specials. Looks like fun.
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