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Music Biography

David continues to write, record, perform and teach.
David James Carlson
Songwriter – Musician 
David James Carlson has written more than 500 songs.
He has played music from Minnesota to Nashville and beyond; at clubs, bars, cruise boats, as a solo act and has been in numerous bands.  His first professional gig playing a bar was in 1966.  He has played more than 1,400 gigs and his original music has always been part of the mix.  He has opened for: Willie Nelson, Gordon Lightfoot, Marvin Rainwater and Sherwin Linton.  In many show productions he has shared the stage with: J.D. Steele, Sanford Moore, Mary Jane Alm, Betty Rydell, Leo Whitebird, and Shirley Witherspoon (who dubbed him "the white BB King").  Bands he has played in have included the Original Sin, Gordon & Dave, Blue Cheez, Golden Dawn, Light Tower, the RevTunes, the Gordon Lightfoot Tribute Band, Dave & Dawn, the Dave Carlson Trio, and others. 
David has played music in over 100 clubs and bars in Minnesota, Wisconsin, Alabama, Ohio, Kansas, South Dakota, California, Tennessee and Michigan.  Clubs in Tennessee include the legendary Blue Bird Café, Music Row Tavern, Douglas Corner Cafe, Gerties, The Basement, and Bell Cove Inn.  In Minnesota he is a regular in the Twin Cities theatre scene as a professional actor/musician appearing on stage with dozens of theatre companies including some of the most prominent and large venues; playing multiple instruments, acting/singing, composing, or in theatrical orchestra's.  Since 1998 he has been a teacher in Anoka Minnesota on a college campus with a studio recording and music production program.

David has 9 albums to his credit:  
*Set Me Free
*Single Lane Highway
*The Youngest Bohemian  
*Gray Sky Night

*Collection (a best of collection from his 5 albums)

*First Minnesota -a civil war musical 

*Ishmael & Isaac, Sons Of Abraham -a dramatic musical

*From The Forest Floor

These are albums with all original songs in his own unique style.  His songs have a stylistic variety of folk, country, blues, and rock with shades of influence by Gordon Lightfoot, Johnny Cash, Harry Chapin, the Moody Blues, Hank Williams and Elvis Presley.  He has a wide range baritone voice, plays multiple instruments (guitar-bass-banjo-fiddle-piano-mandoline-dulcimer-sitar-lap steel-harmonica-autoharp-drums) and creates the arrangements.  In his live stage performances he blends his original songs along with an evening of classic standards. He  has formal music training with a Theatre Arts major/Music minor Bachelor of Arts degree and 1 year Master of Fine Arts training and plays by ear as well.
David continues to write, record, perform, do session work and teach.

Venues played  (Representative)


The Bluebird Café

The Wharf House

Steamboat Inn



Brandy Wine

The Restaurant

Riverside Café

The Roundup

Cowboy  Tap & Deli

JR's Ranch

Music Row Tavern

Bell Cove Inn


The Party Girl

Stardust Inn

Douglas Corner Café

The Basement Lounge

Red Man

Tin Cups

Lakeside Inn

Modern Times  Café

Irish Too Pub

Paul's Neighborhood Inn

Kauai Garden


Camel Club

Maddens Resort

The Office

Rice Street VFW

Joe's Chicken Shack

Lino Lakes VFW

Triangle Bar


KAXE Radio

Lake Harriet Band Shell

Loring Park Stage


Del Win Ballroom

Jim's Big Lake Bar

Powderhorn Park Stage 

Rice St. Festival

KTCA Television

Walker Arts Center

Palomino Club


The Pilot House

Ordway McKnight Theatre

Northrop Auditorium

Forest Lake VFW

Radisson Hotel

Maplewood Bowl

Nicolette Island Stage

Odd Fellows Hall

KFAI Radio

St. Bernard's Church

Majestic Ballroom

Best Western

Iron World

Arrowhead Lodge

Mankato Civic Center

Holiday Inn



MPR Radio

Blue Water Music

Trails End

The Stall House

Day By Day Café

Bad Habit


Venetian Inn

Old Hwy 8 Bar

The Cromwell

Metropolitan Club

Bloomington Eagles Club

Top Hat Lounge

Afton House


Blaine VFW

Spring Lake Park VFW

The Shortstop

The County Line

Elk River American Legion

Big Ten Supper Club

Old Sawmill Grill



Midwest Country Music Theater

Blaine Brook Center

MS Mud Run

The Bru House

Highland Château



Bamboo Betty's


Pine City Czech Booya

Anoka American Legion

North St. Paul American Legion

Medina Entertainment Center

(and many more)



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