The first time I saw David Dondero play was at the old Sluggo’s on Cervantes Street. I don’t remember the way his music was first described to me, only that as I was getting ready to leave for the night, someone strongly advised it would be wise to stay and hear him for myself.
His hair was dirty and his eyes had bags under them. He looked like a man who’d suffered a long day.
The reason I don’t remember how his music was described is probably because the person encouraging me to stay was already aware that any attempt would most likely cheapen what I was about to see.
He played a song called “Pornographic Love Song” that has been requested many times at shows since, but never played.
“That song is really special to me,” Dondero says. “And if I play it too much then it starts to not feel that way. I haven’t played it in a long time though, so maybe this time.”
Dondero also played the song “South of the South,” in which he references Pensacola.
Dondero lived in Pensacola in the late ‘90s, as well as several other places around the country, but it’s obvious in the song that Pensacola holds a certain degree of nostalgia.
“The first time I came to Pensacola, I was on tour with Sunbrain in 1993,” Dondero says. “We played at the original Sluggo’s downtown on Intendencia.”
Dondero was living in North Carolina and Atlanta.
“At that time, it was our first tour ever and the people at Sluggo’s were the nicest people in the country that we met up with,” Dondero says. “I played a really good show with them.”
Dondero quickly established a friendship with several people in Pensacola including Terry Johnson and Rymodee of This Bike is a Pipe Bomb, a band he would eventually become the drummer for.
“And then, I ended up just moving down there,” he says.
It’s evident that Dondero still has a soft spot for Pensacola. He still makes sure to include Pensacola on his tour dates and is enthusiastic about the places he used to frequent.
“I used to go the old Handlebar, before it burned down, and I loved going to the Elbow Room. And Sluggo’s, of course,” Dondero says. “If there was a Sluggo’s in every town, eating would be so much easier.”
Dondero has since been named by NPR as one of the greatest living songwriters, alongside Bob Dylan and Tom Waits. He’s toured all over the world, and his music has received just about every compliment worth getting.
He just released another album, # Zero with a Bullet, and is currently on tour. He will be stopping by Sluggo’s in Pensacola on Nov. 1 with The Moaners.
WHEN: 8 p.m. Monday, Nov. 1
WHERE: Sluggo’s, 101 S. Jefferson Place