If you think Spring Weekend only encompasses what takes place on the main stage, then you’re
probably a freshman in for the biggest treat of your Brunonian life. The Spring Week festivities reach their absolute height on Sunday afternoon: after hours of hanging out with friends on Wriston Quad, Dave Binder takes the stage to strum his guitar and sing his heart out for the remainder of the afternoon.
Dave Binder is a mystical creature who defies Brunonian understanding. He has been working his musical magic here since 1987 and has returned every year without fail. Year in and year out, rain or shine, Binder transforms a seemingly simple concert at a simple venue with simple music—classics like “Brown Eyed Girl,” “No Woman No Cry,” and “Piano Man,” among others—into an interactive and euphoric spectacle of rock-concert proportions.
BlogDH had the opportunity to get to know the legend himself. In our interview with the one-and-only, Binder impersonates James Bond and sheds light on his take on the Brown-Binder experience, how he got into music, and, most importantly, his spirit animal. Binder’s full of wisdom…after the jump.
How/when did you first get into music?
I learned how to play guitar at the age of seven. I always sang and played for my family, and eventually my friends. I wrote my first songs at age 10, was in my first band at age 11, played in my first paying gig at 15… and the rest is history. I graduated from music school in 1980; after I graduated, I stayed on the road and performed.
What do you do the other 364 days of the year?
I try to spread some warmth and good spirit to whomever I meet. I perform a lot—when I’m not gigging and performing, I play tennis twice a week and take care of my beautiful and wonderful wife, who’s busy saving lives in Boston (she’s a doctor at Brigham and Women’s Hospital).
Of all the years you performed at Brown, which was one the most memorable? Why?
Hard to say. There have been many wonderful and memorable years with great people who, time and time again, have shared the love.
What do you like most about performing at Brown?
I love the tradition of seeing everyone from every part of campus come together on that one day. They put aside their work, their differences, their cliches, and they just all enjoy the vibe. They create this fantastic energy flow, let go of the stress of life for a while, and allow the music to take them away to a “happy place.”
What’s your favorite song to perform on Wriston?
Really depends on the year. Sometimes it’s one of the traditional songs like “Fast Food” or “Unicorn,” but often it’s just a real heartfelt concert-ender like “No Woman, No Cry.”
What’s the craziest thing you’ve ever seen during a performance at Brown?
I remember back in the late ’80s, a few people streaked. There was one time when someone hollowed out a watermelon back in ’89 (I think…?). Anyway, they got pretty lit and fell into the stage and hit their head. I remember watermelon cracking open. At least they walked away from it; good thing it was a fruit or they could have ended up a vegetable…(Oh man, that was bad.) (Ed.-No joke of Binder’s is ever bad. Ever.)
If you were to change your last name from Binder to the name of any other item that could be found in an office supply store, what would you change it to?
Binders can be found in office supplies stores—why mess with that? (Ed.-While we wish he’d chosen HP OfficeJet 6700, we’ll take that as an answer.)
Which of the restaurants in “Fast Food” do you frequent most often?
I try to avoid them all these days. But when I’m on the road, I seem to frequent Burger King the most: Broiled, not fried (spoken like James Bond).
What’s your spirit animal?
Probably a dog. A golden retriever or something like that. I’m loyal to my friends, I usually wag my tail, and I’m always willing to give kisses and snuggles. I’m also in need of physical exercise in order to stay healthy and happy. I chased a lot of tail when I was younger. I enjoy rolling in the grass on a sunny spring day, and I get kind of lazy when the temperature’s too high. I love the opportunity to howl (on stage) whenever I get the chance.
There you have it: The man in the baseball cap plays tennis, loves nothing more than to be happy, wouldn’t trade in his name for anything, and continuously tries to touch those for whom he performs. Return the love: channel your inner golden retriever on Sunday and give the man a huge air-hug from Wriston. Those of you who have yet to experience the magic of Binder are in for a great treat. Although the premise of such an event as this may be hard to imagine, just trust the process. It’s one unlike any other. If you don’t trust us, you should trust the legend himself.