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Country Kersh

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John Chiasson

Country Gentleman: David Kersh.

Young David Kersh picks his country tunes with care

By Sarah Quelland

Country singer David Kersh is known for wild, energetic live performances. Only 27, the personable young man from Humble, Texas, has two solid albums under his belt and shows more than just a knack for dance-hall ballads and up-tempo numbers.

Although he is not a songwriter himself, Kersh picks the tunes he covers with great care and brands each song with a sense of great sincerity. Rooted in the tradition of performers like the Oak Ridge Boys, Merle Haggard and Hank Williams Jr., Kersh successfully ties the young country spirit to the classic honky-tonk attitude.

Kersh is best known for the two-stepping hits "Goodnight, Sweetheart" and "Another You," as well as the Caribbean-infused "If I Never Stop Loving You" from the recently released album of the same name. That album yields an impressive crop of appealing, radio-ready songs, including a fast-paced cover of Willie Nelson's "Hello Walls" and a country version of Eric Clapton's "Wonderful Tonight."

No doubt Kersh has become a favorite among female fans for his country charm and good looks, but he's more than just a pretty face. The substance of the songs that Kersh performs leans toward matters of the heart in a fresh, honest way, and he conveys an exceptional level of masculine sensitivity.

One of Kersh's greatest strengths is his ability to choose material that's not riddled with clichés. "If I Never Stop Loving You" reveals an attractive timidness with the lyrics "Please forgive me I'm a little bit nervous/I really rehearsed what to say/It's funny in front of the mirror/My words sounded clearer today."

The up-tempo "Something to Think About" is an amusing number about a guy admitting to his friends that he's falling in love: "I'm starting to see the attraction in settling down/Now I might have been rash talking take 'em or leave 'em/That night down at Buster's/That bull about freedom/She's sure something/Something to think about."

The slower "Anything With Wheels" is the story of a girl dreaming of running away: "If a dream had a motor/And wishes ran on gasoline/If desire just had tires/She'd be somewhere south of Abilene."

Though he grew up singing in church, this well-mannered country gentleman didn't plan to be a singer. Like many boys raised in the country, sports and hunting were his sources of recreation, and in high school, he set his sights on football. When a knee injury ended his budding gridiron career during his freshman year, Kersh joined his school choir and turned his focus to singing.

While attending Southwest Texas State University, Kersh joined a band called the Emotions and played in the local dance halls to help pay the bills. Those, and other Texas honky-tonks became Kersh's stomping grounds.

After two years of college, Kersh decided to pursue music full-time. He taught himself to play the guitar and soon began ping-ponging between Houston to Nashville to break into the recording industry. Those frequent flights landed him a national commercial spot for Southwest Airlines, which he flew on because of its low fares. The company was so impressed with his success story that they designed an ad campaign around him, including a clip of his breakthrough song "Goodnight, Sweetheart."

Kersh spends most of his time on the road, and he's toured with Reba McEntire and Brooks & Dunn. Recently wrapping up his stint at Nashville's big Fan Fair festival with fellow Curb artists LeAnn Rimes, Sawyer Brown and Jo Dee Messina, Kersh says he makes a point of communicating with his fans. "I want to jump down into the crowd and let them know that I'm one of them. Just like fans of mine, I'm a fan too. I get awestruck just like everyone else."

David Kersh performs June 29 at 9pm at the Edge, 260 California Ave., Palo Alto. Free 21+; $5 under 21. (650/324-EDGE).

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Web extra to the June 25-July 1, 1998 issue of Metro.

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