What do you call the guy who does it all, musically speaking?

Arranging, composing, writing lyrics, trombone, accordion, leading bands, singing, producing, teaching, creating

DAVID J. PIERCE and developing musical events, all the while brainstorming his next project?

In the case of Denton’s David J. Pierce, let’s just say Musician, with an accent on versatile.

Best known to many as the musical mastermind behind little D’s annual Cirque du Horror

and Holiday Lighting Festival extravaganzas, to others for his arranging alchemy for Ricki Derek,

 Tim DeLaughter, Elle King, Sarah Jaffe, and more, to others as the leader of his old-school Latin dance band

El Nuevo Mi Son or his retro/“anachro,” genre-confounding The Hip Van Winkles, Pierce is a musical Renaissance dude, and it’s hard to pinpoint a greatest strength when he excels at them all.

Pierce’s musical omnivorousness dates back to his earliest years in Corpus Christi and his mother’s influence.

Her eclectic taste embraced everyone from Willie Nelson to The Beatles, ABBA to Freddy Fender, mariachi, and Linda Ronstadt, and Pierce would focus on “sweetening” the arrangements on those recordings.

“I remember a London Symphony Christmas album we had,” he recalls, “and I listened to that cassette so much that I actually wore it out.

I started listening to stuff like that; I didn’t listen to Top 40.”

His ears were drawn to the big band sounds of Duke Ellington, Count Basie, and Maynard Ferguson, so it’s no surprise that he was attracted to University of North Texas’ College of Music.

Pierce earned a degree in Music Education, but he owes much of his informal education to jam sessions with students from all over, a melting pot of international dimensions.

“I really got into different composers from all over the world,” he says. “I listened to a lot of the old Cuban and Puerto Rican greats like Cachao,

Eddie Palmieri, and salsa stuff that was happening in the ’70s, like Héctor Lavoe, Willie Colón, Rubén Blades.

Duke Ellington did change my life, but so did many other people.” Just around the corner, check out Pierce’s arrangements of yuletide classics,

 live, when A Merry Little Christmas Show with Ricki Derek hits venues in Grapevine, Fort Worth, and Dallas.

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