David Childers is something of a local legend. His talents are multifaceted, having held successful careers as a lawyer and musician, and showing great proficiency as a poet and a painter. He’s played alongside the Avett Brothers and worked with Don Dixon of R.E.M. and the Smithereens.
Childers is working on some new projects, including recording songs with Dolph Ramseur, head of Ramseur Records, making the trip to his home Concord once a week since December.
He’s also working with playwright Elaine Alexander on a musical based on his music, titled “Hard Time Country.”
Despite his success, you won’t find him in a loft in Nashville or recording studio in New York City -- you’ll find him at home in Mount Holly.
“This is home … We know how to make records here. There’s a lot of fine musicians,” said Childers.
His roots here run deep, having been born and raised in Mount Holly and running a law practice with his wife, Linda. His roots are reflected in some of his songs, including “Belmont Ford” from his newest album, “Run Skeleton Run.”
Making a name for himself
Childers first began playing guitar as a teenager, after he’d been dumped by his girlfriend in favor of his best friend. It wasn’t until the early 1990s that music started to become a serious venture, releasing “Godzilla! He Done Broke Out” in 1995 as David Childers & the Mount Holly Hellcats.
Over the years, Childers has made a name for himself and performed with an array of musicians.
The Avett Brothers would open for Childers when they were first starting out. Now, Scott Avett and Bob Crawford perform with Childers fairly frequently. Avett performed on “Run Skeleton Run,” and Crawford has served as his executive producer for years.
Childers has also swapped songs with Kyle Petty (yes, that Kyle Petty) during a benefit for the Community Relief Organization in Mount Holly.
“He’s an extremely soulful guy,” said Childers.
Childers has had multiple bands perform with him over the years, including The Mount Holly Hellcats, Overmountain Men, and now The Serpents. The Serpents are currently made up of son Robert Childers, Cory Dudley, Dale Shumaker and Jeff White.
Taking a break
Much of his musical career overlapped with his law career, spanning 35 years but balancing a career, a family, and music took its toll.
“I didn’t enjoy having two careers going at one time, and each of them extremely demanding,” said Childers.
That's when he began to make the transition from law to music.
For a time, Childers would be out of the music scene completely, thanks in part to a particularly bad bout of shingles in 2008.
“I thought I was going to quit for good. I was pretty beat up at that point,” said Childers.
During that time, Childers picked up painting, something he’d tried in his younger years but stopped, opting to write poetry instead.
This time around, Childers found the patience for the art and used it as a sort of therapy. The habit continued and now, when the weather is nice enough, you’ll find him painting outside. His art can be found on his website.
“I found I could go out to this building out here and stand and paint. I got some exercise doing that. It was therapeutic,” said Childers.
Getting back in the game
Getting back into the music scene was a difficult transition.
Childers credits son Robert Childers and Crawford among those who helped him get back in the game.
“I’d get angry easily and frustrated. There were good moments and bad moments,” said Childers.
But he found his groove and has returned to performing both in and out of state and getting back into projects.
Childers has also been credited with greatly helping the music scene at Ole Dallas Brewery.
In a previous Gazette article, Ole Dallas Brewery partner Beau Norwood referred to Childers as his “Obi-Wan Kenobi.”
“I think Jabba the Hutt might be better. Chewbacca plays bass,” said Childers.
Recently, Childers performed at the brewery with his band The Serpents
His return to the music scene isn’t all-consuming, despite the projects he’s currently working on. This time around, he’s found balance and happiness.
“I live every day with a sense of joy and nobody can take that from me,” said Childers. “Ain’t nobody can take that from me.”
Reach reporter Brandy Beard at 704-869-1840 or email@example.com.