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Tom Zades | Published on 5/9/2023

During the Music Club’s 2023 General Meeting, March 21, President Jim Ward bestowed a very special honor upon David Durham: induction into the Music Club Hall of Fame. Jim went on to mention the many contributions David made, starting almost upon his arrival in 2014. Jim’s remarks are included in the following.

David Durham has had a major impact on musical performances and music training here at Grand. He is a great performer, showman, band leader, natural comedian, director, producer, writer, composer, teacher, and charitable giver.

One of the first things David did after moving to Grand in 2014 was collaborate with his wife Soni to direct and produce a show titled “Panning for Gold,” where they were looking for “diamonds in the rough.” For the show, he opened up auditions for all Grand residents and encouraged musicians at all levels to audition. The show was a great success and achieved his goal of showcasing many previously unknown performers living at Grand.

In 2015, David started the Music Club’s Acoustic Instrument Group (AIG,) a twice monthly jam that he led until relocating to Colorado in late May 2023. With AIG, David encouraged folks to dust off their acoustic instruments and get back into playing. As the Music Club website currently describes it, AIG is “open to club members who play any sort of acoustic instrument - including but not limited to guitar, banjo, mandolin, string bass, harmonica, ukulele and drum (and to those who just want to come and sing along).”

Today, that group has well over one hundred members and alumni. Several bands at Grand came from meeting and playing together at those jams. These currently include the Salty Dawgs, Gold Rush and the CBD Project.

As Jim Ward put it: “The Salty Dawgs are an acoustic folk music group comprised of vocalists/instrumentalists. The instruments are guitars, banjo, bass, harmonica and rhythm. The ‘Dawgs’ play primarily folk music from the 50’s and 60’s inspired by The Kingston Trio, Peter Paul and Mary, Bob Dylan and others – with an occasional Irish tune or original thrown into the mix. They believe that music should be fun and encourage their audiences to sing along.”

Wherever they perform – driveways during the Covid pandemic, adding local churches more recently – the Dawgs raise funds for various charities and causes. David says that they have raised at least $25,000 for charity in the last few years.

David has created and directed many musical shows throughout the years, including an original musical comedy, “The Cruise,” for which he wrote the lyrics and music for 11 original songs. Per Producer Jake Gibbs, “The show was critically acclaimed as one of the best shows ever performed on the Grand stage. That show, like all of his other shows at Grand, sold every seat at every performance!”

David created the popular one-night Hootenanny shows at Grand. Since 2015 there have been two per year, generally in the spring and December, for a total of 13 shows. Typically, 12 musicians span the ballroom stage and lead audiences in sing-alongs, with lyrics posted on large screens.

David noticed the Grand amphitheater was a beautiful, under-utilized venue, so beginning in 2016 he created the popular, semiannual “Music al Fresca” free series of shows for residents to enjoy down by the lake. There were six shows over a three-year period prior to the pandemic.

In addition to finding diamonds in the rough, David encouraged and taught fledgling musicians to work towards their musical dreams. Over the years, many members of the Acoustic Group got their start by attending David’s Grand Learning class, “Play a Guitar and Sing.” In this class he taught music theory to students who knew a few chords but needed help in developing further. His goal, usually successful, was to give these students the confidence and skills required to accompany themselves while singing a song.

David was most recently involved with starting a new Singer/Songwriter group that is just getting underway. And, notably, he served on the Music Club Board as Showcase Coordinator for several years. An entertainer to the end, David and the Salty Dawgs are performing to a sold-out crowd at Cimarron on May 23, David and Soni’s last day in Grand.

To quote Jake Gibbs again: “David has been a great ambassador for the Music Club at Grand. He has hundreds of friends and fans here and knows nearly all of them by name! He was also a great ambassador for Grand to the surrounding communities. Money raised from the Salty Dawgs driveway concerts went to local restaurants who were hurting financially during Covid and for other charities after Covid. He doesn’t talk about it, but he also frequently performed his free one-man show at senior care facilities in the area.”

David will be sorely missed by so many friends and fellow musicians as he and Soni leave us. His contributions will remain, though, through the many budding musicians he has encouraged, the accomplished musicians he has attracted, and the shows he has created. But maybe the largest group to benefit are the Grand audiences, who will continue to experience the variety of live music here in Grand.

We send the Durhams off with hearty thanks from all.

Jim Ward presenting the Hall of Fame award to David Durham

Jim Ward presenting the Award to David
David with his award.

David with his award