Dave Smith is one of the most in demand drummers on the British alternative/improv music scene. He currently holds the drum chair in Robert Plant’s (the legendary Led Zeppelin lead singer) solo project, as well as the Cloudmakers Trio. Drawing on a wide range of influences, from West African percussion to jazz drumming, his explosive style and musical sensitivity give him the versatility to play in many musical environments.
Born in Norwich, Dave began playing drums at the age of nine. By the time he was sixteen Dave had performed at the Royal Albert Hall and had won a full scholarship to become a specialist musician at Wells Cathedral School. He then went on to study Jazz Performance at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, where he graduated with a BMus in 2003.
Dave is also known for his work in co-leading Outhouse, a Loop Collective group that formed in 2005. Since releasing their debut record on the Babel label, Outhouse have toured the UK and performed in Canada, Germany, France and West Africa. Outhouse projects have included working with Icelandic guitarist Hilmar Jensson, Canadian group [IKS], Stephane Payen, Jeanne Added and Le Bruit Du [Sign] from Paris, and Quebecan laptopist/bassist Pierre-Alexandre Tremblay. In 2002, Dave travelled to The Gambia to study Sabar drumming through ECCO (Education through Communication and Culture Organisation). He continued to work in The Gambia once a year to study this traditional drumming style, and to assist on ECCO courses for Guildhall students and run workshops in schools with ECCO and the Child Protection Alliance. Learning the complex rhythms of West Africa inspired Dave to lead a project in The Gambia with Outhouse and five Sabar percussionists, forming the new group Outhouse Ruhabi. They showcased their new music in May 2008 at the Cheltenham Jazz Festival, recorded for BBC Radio 3 and recorded an album that was launched in October 2009 with a 15-date UK tour.
Through the shared desire to write and perform original and improvised music with other musicians within London’s music community, Dave co-founded the LOOP Collective in 2005. The ethos of the collective is to create more exposure for its members through performance opportunities, exchanges with other music collectives, and its own record label, LOOP Records. Within the collective Dave co-leads Splice and Outhouse and plays in Jim Hart’s Gemini, Dan Nicholls’ Mirror and Tom Challenger’s MA.
With a keen aspiration for instigating projects abroad and in the UK, Dave has formed strong relationships with UK funding bodies. His involvement with West African music and creative music groups in London led him to receive two bursaries from the BBC Performing Arts Fund in 2005 and 2006. These bursaries have given Dave the opportunity to develop his career through performance, recording, collaborating and research projects. For the Outhouse Ruhabi project Dave received three grants from Arts Council England and was a Jerwood Jazz Generation artist in 2008. Outhouse has also received grants from PRSFoundation in 2008 and 2010 and Jazz Services in 2010.
Dave also performs and recorded with award winning world music outfit Juju (Justin Adams & Juldeh Camara) Berber/Parisian singer Iness Mezel, Loose Tubes’ Mark Lockheart Quintet, Donny McCaslin (USA) Eddie Henderson (USA) and Ingrid Jenson (USA) amongst others.