The Theatre at Raritan Valley Community College presented Grammy Award winning guitar player David Cullen on Thursday, Jan. 29 in a noon and 7 p.m. performance.
Cullen is a highly accomplished folk, jazz and blues guitar player. He has been playing guitar since the age of seven and grew up in a large family surrounded by folk music, he told the audience at the 7 p.m performance.
Cullen played and sang a set of original songs inspired by his life using a steel string and a classical guitar. After a brief intermission, Cullen took audience requests and insisted they sing along with him, which many did.
Cullen’s original song “6th and Franklin,” he told the audience, was inspired by the corner bar on 6th and Franklin in his hometown, Readington, PA, where he and his friends had their first few gigs. The owner would let them play any song they wanted. At the end of each night, the owner would take a wad of cash out of his pocket and pay Cullen any amount he asked for.
Cullen also performed "Tupelo Honey" by Van Morrison. Cullen said that when he traveled to Ireland last summer he and his wife came across a small, secluded bar and listened to a band perform. Cullen asked if he could play Irish music with them, but they insisted he play something American. And so, he played "Tupelo Honey."
One audience member, who has seen Cullen perform before, said of this performance, "He was very connective with the audience. He’s natural and has originality."
The noon performance was set in on-stage theatre style seating and was about one hour in length. The 7 p.m. performance was two hours long and the audience sat at candle lit tables in a relaxed on-stage cabaret setting.
Cullen referred to himself as a "modern day minstrel"—also the title of one of his original songs—and said that he aims to be original and to connect with his audience.
Cullen has released two books with Warner Brothers Publications, Jazz, Classical and Beyond and Grateful Guitar. He has also released a performance DVD and 10 CDs for the acoustic guitar label “Solid Air Record.”
Cullen graduated with his Bachelor of Music from Hartt School of Music. He currently teaches jazz and classical guitar at Kutztown Univeristy and West Chester University and is an artist-in-residence at Elizbethtown College. Cullen won a Grammy for Best Pop Instrumental Recording in 2005.
This article was edited on 2/10/15.