D.C.-Baltimore musician was known for rootsy Hawaiian tunes and shirts
Dave Giegerich was a musician known in the Baltimorearea for his hybrid of Hawaiian tunes, western swing and rockabilly. The local roots music community recognized him as a master of the steel guitar and the dobro, an acoustic guitar with a metal resonator to amplify its sound.
As a sideman, he accompanied a number of singer-songwriters and bluegrass groups, including Bill Harrell and the Virginians. He contributed to dozens of recordings by groups such as Wayne Taylor and Appaloosa as well as Smooth Kentucky.
Mr. Giegerich, who recorded a solo album, “Slide-Tracked,” and performed at the White House, the Kennedy Center and the Birchmere in Alexandria, died Dec. 29 at the University of Maryland Medical Center in Baltimore of complications from aplastic anemia, a blood disorder. He was 57.
In 1988, he was inspired to co-found his own group, the Hula Monsters, while playing a gig on a dinner-cruise ship in Baltimore. He had been hired by the houseboat’s regular band to evoke Hawaii between sets, and a rootsy, island-tinged sound was born.
“We didn’t really have a background in playing with a Hawaiian feel,” Mr. Giegerich once said. “We did have Hawaiian shirts, though!”
The band evolved into a quartet that played at local venues and had a regular date every other Tuesday at the Cat’s Eye Pub in Baltimore. The group performed some original compositions byMr. Giegerich but mostly covered crowd-pleasing standards, such as the jazz-blues song “St. James Infirmary” and the Hawaiian-themed “Hillbilly Hula Girl.”
The Hula Monsters were well regarded if not generously paid. They supplemented their income by selling Hawaiian shirts they’d collected from thrift stores and garage sales.
“ The other night, I made twice as much from selling shirts as I did for playing,” Mr. Giegerich told the Baltimore Sun in 1997.
In a 1996 article about Baltimore night life, Eric Brace, a musician and former writer for TheWashington Post, praised the Monsters as “one of the best bands in the world.”
David Giegerich was born in Chicago on March 15, 1953, and grew up in South Haven, Mich. He started playing guitar as a young man and, after studying for several years at Michigan State University, dropped out of school to pursue music full time.
For the past dozen years, he had worked as an audiovisual specialist at the University of Maryland School of Social Work in Baltimore. In 1988, he graduated from the University of Maryland Baltimore County.
Survivors include his wife of 25 years, Pamela McLeod of Ellicott City; two sons, Axel Giegerich of Ellicott City and Carter Giegerich, who is studying bluegrass at East Tennessee State University; his father, Raymond Giegerich of South Haven; two brothers; and a sister.
Mr. Giegerich won more than 10 “Wammies,” awards given annually by the Washington Area Music Association. He had recently formed a bluegrass group, East of Monroe, and was recording an album when he became ill.
Dave Giegerich’sHulaMonsters were well regarded if not generously paid. The band supplemented its income by sellingHawaiian shirts.