For the Clarkston band the Maple Bars, this vision is the aggrandized life of friend David Daniel Crocker told through rich songs as instrumentally varied as the man’s adventures, real and imagined.
The band spent two years recording its first album, “David Daniel Crocker,” at Khind of Records studio in Lewiston and will release it Saturday, July 23 when they open for Collective Soul at Rockin’ on the River.
“Some of the songs were already there, and the stories came after the riff. A lot of it started with what this song needed to be about and it all grew around that. I already had the stories in mind that I wanted to tell,” said lead singer Mason McCroskey, who can be found on synthesizer, stereo sound piano and guitar on the album, along with Austin Moody on guitar and bass and Trenton Meeds on drums.
The 5-year-old band regularly polishes its skills at Hogan’s Pub in Clarkston, which is where all three met Crocker, a regular patron also known as “the yo-yo guy.” The soft-spoken Crocker often shared stories of his life, which captured the band members’ imaginations.
“All these stories we got from Dave. I then kind of made them a little more Hollywood,” McCroskey said.
The album is about a period in Crocker’s life when he lived in Las Vegas. Songs range from “Valahia Assaf Khouri Najar,” about the wild adventures Crocker shared with the son of a Saudi Arabian ambassador; to the plaintive “Mama My Sister’s Dead,” a song about why Crocker went to Las Vegas in the first place, to try to discover if his sister’s death was suicide or murder. In “Curtis Mayfield” Crocker finds himself in the midst of a riot at a racially charged concert. The climax to the album is “The Ocean,” about a motorcycle accident that changed his life. Crocker speaks about the wreck in the song. The band’s version of the tale is an embellished Bonnie and Clyde-esque calamity.
Almost every song uses a different instrument than the one before, giving the album a diversity streaming from an array of tightly woven influences, from Dave Brubeck and Queens of the Stone Age to the Isley Brothers and Ween.
“We’re really hoping that people will listen to it as an album,” McCroskey said. “The point would be to have people ask their own questions. That’s one of the great things about some of these concept albums. In the Who’s “Tommy,” until the movie came out, you didn’t really know how the pinball wizard came to be. We want people to use their own imagination of what Dave was going through.”
“David Daniel Crocker” is $10 and will be for sale at Rockin’ on the River. After Saturday, it will be available at Covey’s Bike & Board in Lewiston. It will also be made available digitally.
Other local bands performing at Rockin’ on the River are the Hitmen and Beyond Today.