“I was angry.
Everyone was angry. So I picked up a microphone and started shouting.”
Growing up in Belfast, Northern Ireland in the 90's means choosing your words carefully is part of everyday life. Maybe that made it the perfect school for a would-be songwriter but if so, then it was circumstance, not planning, which taught Dave McKendry to pay close attention to what he said and didn’t. Either way, the anger, fear and frustration which ebbed and flowed through the city soon found its way through him too. “I was angry. Everyone was angry. So I picked up a microphone and started shouting.”
After scraping through school, McKendry’s parents insisted he repeat his final exams. Pretending to go to college for a full year, he escaped instead to a friends house, where they wrote songs together 5 days a week. While he finished the year with worse grades than he left school with, his songwriting was noticeably improved.
About a decade of stumbling around in the dark, DIY shows, tours, records and fighting to make a passion into a living, eventually lead to McKendry giving up on music. Or trying to. Gifting his instruments to his friends he turned his back on home and set off to travel around Europe by bicycle. It wasn’t long however before he stumbled again, this time upon a dusty old guitar in a tiny village in The Middle Of Nowhere, Spain. Realising music was far from through with him, he traded his bike for a guitar of his own and wandered from place to place as a street musician, “collecting memories, thoughts, ups and downs: living,” as he puts it.
Arriving into Vienna McKendry was introduced almost immediately to a collective of songwriters. Discovering not only that his beloved songwriting could be studied, but that he had people here to teach him, shifted his perspective both on songwriting and the city itself. What was planned as a two day stop has lasted seven years and counting.
Playing on the city streets up to seven days a week, he spent every spare minute writing for himself and others, soon becoming a name in the Viennese music scene. He began to write for and with award-winning artists throughout the country, known and sought after for his ability to tell an emotive story. Before too long McKendry was spending less and less time on the streets, more and more in studios and writing sessions. And all the while he’d make a point of packing his songs and stories into the back of a borrowed car, driving round Europe and singing everywhere, from intimate shows in the tiniest living rooms to great stages, supporting great artists, in award winning venues and theatres.
Countless hours spent playing on its streets and stages have made Vienna - and Europe - his home. Countless hours which have made it easy for him, time after time, to establish the connection to his audience which is so dear to him. Alone or with his band, with disarming honesty and a genuine love for the moments they share, Dave McKendry sweeps his listeners off upon a journey before releasing them gently, gently back onto their own.