April 17, 2013
An Indiana State University alumnus who played drums as a child and picked up guitar as a student has made a splash on the international music scene while keeping his day job.
David Ralston, an international recording artist, will fulfill a dream of his - playing a concert at his alma mater April 25 at 8 p.m. in the Landini Center for Performing and Fine Arts, Recital Hall. The concert, sponsored by Indiana State's Music Industry Association and Spotlight Entertainment, is free and open to the public.
The Kokomo native and a 1992 Indiana State graduate, currently works as a drug prevention specialist for the US Marines at Camp Foster in Okinawa, Japan.
Ralston also finds his second job in music rewarding. He often can be found playing blues and rock at clubs in Okinawa and recording under the tutelage of music industry icons.
At first, Ralston kept his day job as a counselor and his night gig as a musician separate. But then he realized he could fuse both worlds together.
"People know me because of my music and they listen to me because they've connected with me while I was playing onstage," Ralston said. "Now it's one and the same."
Ralston, who played drums as a child, learned the guitar while at Indiana State.
"The drum set was too big and bulky and too loud for my room in Sandison Hall," he said. "I got a guitar my sophomore year and started messing around."
But it wasn't until he set roots in Japan that he seriously became involved in music. Lucky for him, American music is a strong influence in Okinawa - everything from reggae and blues to hard rock.
Ralston burst onto the music scene in September 1998 with his initial production, "Indiana Slim," produced and recorded in Terre Haute by Dave Kyle, a studio and live touring veteran with credits ranging from Vince Gill, and Chet Atkins to Danny Gatton and many others.
Ralston's second and third albums, "Nail it Down" and "Blue Sky" were produced by rock music icon Delaney Bramlett, who produced albums from such greats as Eric Clapton, George Harrison and 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.
"If I would've been a bit smarter at the time, it would've really freaked me out.
Everyone was so intimidated by him because he was so hard on musicians," Ralston said. "I'm not sure why he said yes to working with me. He said no to lot of others."
Bramlett was in semi-retirement at the time, recording on his own but not producing for others.
A four-day recording session at Bramlett's Southern California home produced "Nail it Down."
"I did whatever he told me," Ralston said. "Delaney was like a father and walked me through each part. Delaney really taught me to play music. I'll always be grateful to him."
Bramlett did more than teach and produce. He instilled in Ralston confidence and gave him instant credibility - two necessities in the music world.
"I'm sad Delaney's gone. I wish he could listen to what I'm playing now," the protégé said. " I think he'd be happy with it."
Ralston recorded his fifth CD, "I've Been Waiting," with blues legend Duke Robillard.Like Bramlett, Robillard believed in Ralston and even let him use his band for the recording.
Not bad for an Indiana kid who fell into music.
"I didn't know I could sing until 1998," Ralston said. "A year later, I'm in with Delaney Bramlett making records."
Ralston's music is a mix of blues and rock but he's also included other influences, including Okinawa music.
"I began getting involved with traditional Okinawa music when I was recording "Blue Sky."On that CD, Ralston crossed cultures to include traditional taiko drums and sanshins - three-stringed banjos. The end result is what Ralston calls "Okinawa Blues." He continues to utilize island music and Japanese pop on his studio works.
Ralston has steadily, album by album, created much more than just great music. He has evolved and created an entirely new type of ''established international musician.'' Many artists are collaborating with him as they shift toward the new international music world that he is championing.
He's come a long way from that single guitar he had at Indiana State.
While he plays on a regular basis in Japan, Ralston and his band travel back to the States for the occasional gig. Ralston has performed at Terre Haute's Blues at the Crossroads Festival and at bars in the Indianapolis area.
Ralston is back in the states to record his 10th studio album in Nashville, back up by musicians with ties to Black Crows, Johnny Cash, Bonnie Raitt and Van Morrison. His ninth studio work, "Okinawa Mix," will be available in late April on iTunes.
To learn more about Ralston and his music, go to www.davidralston.com .For more information on Ralston's performance at Indiana State, contact Paula Meyer at 812-237-3783.
Contact: Paula Meyer, Office of Communications and Marketing, Indiana State University, 812-237-3783 or Paula.Meyer@indstate.edu
Writers: Paula Meyer, Office of Communications and Marketing, Indiana State University, 812-237-3783 or Paula.Meyer@indstate.edu
Ebonie Lamb, arts marketing intern, Office of Communications and Marketing, Indiana State University, email@example.com
David Ralston, an international recording artist, will fulfill a dream of his - playing a concert at his alma mater April 25 at 8 p.m. in the Landini Center for Performing and Fine Arts, Recital Hall. The concert is free and open to the public.