Dan Navarro has been a songwriter for artists like Pat Benatar, The Bangles, Jackson Browne, Keb’ Mo’, Dave Edmunds, The Tempatations, Dionne Warwick, Dutch superstar Marco Borsato, The Triplets, Austin outlaw legend Rusty Weir and many more. As a recording artist, he toured alongside with longtime partner, Eric Lowen, in the acclaimed acoustic duo, Lowen & Navarro, and, since 2009, as a solo singer-songwriter increasingly on demand on the national concert circuit. He’s also known for his work in film and TV, including the current smash hit The Lorax, plus Happy Feet (1 & 2), Rio (“Real In Rio,” nominated for a 2012 Oscar), Ice Age (2 & 3), Robots, The Mexican, The Emperor’s New Groove, Envy; Prison Break, Family Guy, American Dad and The Cleveland Show; recordings with Neil Young, Andrea Bocelli, Luis Miguel, Jose Feliciano, Susanna Hoffsand Jon Anderson of Yes; and commercials for Shakey’s Pizza, McDonald’s, Toyota, Coca-Cola,Honda, El Pollo Loco, Nationwide and literally hundreds of others. He is playing at Eddie’s Attic tonight and joined us for our 5GB series.
What’s the first gig you ever attended?
Because I grew up in a small border town, on the Mexican border in California, there weren’t opportunities to see major acts where I lived. So my first concert was at college, Jose Feliciano at Santa Monica Civic Auditorium in 1970 or so. My second gig (far more memorable) was Neil Young at Royce Hall at UCLA in 1971, before Harvest came out. Ramblin’ Jack Elliot was the opener. Neil was solo acoustic, and played most of the stuff that would end up on Harvest — Old Man, A Man Needs a Maid, and especially The Needle and the Damage Done. The recording on Harvest is from that exact concert. So when the applause starts, I’m in there somewhere.
What is the best gig that you ever played/performed?
There are several that stand out. The Birchmere in Alexandria VA in 1994, Wolf Trap in DC in 1991, The Barns if Wolf Trap in 1993, Park West Chicago 2006…
But probably my all time favorite is Park West, Chicago, January 28 1994. We had a sold out house (roughly 800 people) and it was recorded live for WXRT FM. My partner Eric Lowen had flown home three days before, from Portland Maine to Los Angeles, for the birth of his twins. He made it with an hour to spare. He then rejoined us on the road for another two weeks. That show was the first one after his kids were born, and lent a celebratory air to the entire evening. Plus someone tried to scalp tickets to me for my own show. He wanted $50 for a $12 ticket. What a riot.
What is the best gig you have ever seen?
It’s very difficult to top Bruce Springsteen at The Roxy Theatre in LA in 1975. A 600 seat room, and he was on the cover of Time and Newsweek in the same week. He owned the room, and gave an inspired, energetic set that knocked me on my ass. I never saw pop the same again.
Runners-up: Neil Young at Royce Hall, UCLA, 1971; Pink Floyd doing The Wall in London, 1980; Linda Ronstadt at McCabe’s Guitar Show 1975 — she was on top of the charts, but the capacity at McCabe’s is 150. She did all bluegrass and folk, none of her hits. It was magical; Jackson Browne at McCabe’s, same year; BoDeans at The Coach House, San Juan Capistrano CA, 1986; The list goes on…
Gig you would most like to play?
The Ryman Auditorium in Nashville. It’s an amazing old theatre, with great sightlines, and the tradition alone — Grand Ol’ Opry used to broadcast from there — is enough for me to want to play there. There are several others…Newport, Telluride, Strawberry, Bumbershoot Festivals. Mountain Stage in West Virginia. It’s a long list. Truth told, I’ve played most of the places I would have wanted to play. I’m a lucky guy.
What would be the lineup for your dream gig?
Band wise or personnel wise? Band wise, I’ve had my dream lineup twice:
John Hiatt, Shawn Colvin and us, at Constitution Hall in Washington DC, on a 3400 seat sellout.
Lowen & Navrro & Friends at Folk Alliance in Austin 2006. That featured Eliza Gilkyson, Wendy Waldman, Gretchen Peters, Tom Prasada-Rao, Freebo & Photoglo, Joel Rafael, Jimmy LaFave, The Burns Sisters, Ronnie Cox & Jack Williams, Jeff Berkley, and more. A magical night.
I’d open for Jackson Browne anywhere on the planet, in a heartbeat. Ditto Bob Dylan or Bruce Cockburn.
As for players, my dream lineup is Hutch Hutchinson on bass, Jim Keltner on drums, Greg Leisz on guitar, Phil Parlapiano on keys. And I’ve been lucky enough to play and record with all those guys.
Catch Dan Navarro Tonight May 10th at Eddie’s Attic