Known in certain circles as an iconoclastic loner of Acid Folk, David Nigel Lloyd is a Kenyan-born Englishman living in far northern California. “Lloyd,” the British magazine Folk Roots once wrote, “uses traditional tunes and themes where it suits his purposes.” In 2011, he was an Official Showcase Performer at the Folk Alliance International Conference in Memphis, TN. Currently emerging from three stints of hand surgery, the 63 year-old DNL has performed in England, Ireland, Canada and throughout the United States.
In November, 2016, the Greek National Radio station on the island of Corfu broadcast a two-hour program entitled “ΣΥΓΧΡΟΝΗ Acid Folk” [“Acid Folk in the New Millennium”]. One half of the program was devoted to DNL and his 5th album, Rivers Kings and Curses. That CD features Incredible String Band founder and Acid Folk hero Robin Williamson among its guest musicians. It had also been showcased on the ‘Best of 2008’ episode of NPR’s syndicated Celtic Connections show
With his “spirited singing and full-bodied playing,” (Dirty Linen) “Lloyd is as much American influenced as British” (Steve Hochman, The LA Times). He accompanies himself on guitar and the 8-stringed octar. In performance, he often introduces his songs with an ornate joke, a true tale or —to keep things honest— an outrageous lie. As the LA Weekly once wrote, “Lloyd is some serious traditional fun.”
In 2015, DNL performed at house concerts, community centers, NPR stations, bookstores, folk clubs and art centers from California to British Columbia. In 2016, after the first surgery on his hand, he concentrated on completing four recording projects. Two of the projects began 40 years ago during DNL’s unlikely beginnings in LA’s nascent New Wave scene. The other two consist of more recent explorations —a culmination of 20 years as a solo acoustic performer.
Realizing only recently that he was an Acid Folky, DNL preferred the label Non Traditional Traditionalism, itself a sub-genre of Psychedelic (or Acid) Folk. It originated in the mid-60s in Britain. There, innovative singer/guitarists like Martin Carthy, the above-mentioned Robin Williamson and the late Bert Jansch, saw the ballads, the blues, beat poetry, ragas, Zen teaching tales etc. as aspects of the same thing: a new popular song. Often as not they were fine song poets, too. Lloyd is firmly in their non-tradition.
Though he sometimes sings traditional songs as he finds them, DNL often overlays them with new but related lyrics. In them, the olde Anglo-Celtic pantheon of demon knights, faerie queens and divine drunkards are often found wandering the deserts, mountains and boomtowns of Southern California where DNL lived for 35 years. Sometimes they travel well beyond the bounds of what traditional songs should sound like. In DNL’s hands, for example, a Bronze Age Irish berserker finds himself far from home, lost in a Country and Western song. In “Tim Lane,” the medieval knight Tam Linn, stolen by fairies, becomes a cowboy abducted by aliens. “A strongly individual musical and poetic mind is at work here.” (beGlad, UK)
Calling it a neglected classic of “killer arrangements . . . dense with poetry and an unusual blend of witty modesty,” Yoga Records reissued DNL’s 1984 album, Dark Ages, in 2008. In 1992, DNL played Feste in the bizarre feature film, Shakespeare’s Plan 12 From Outer Space (Twelfth Night). Appearing with Kay Lenz, Buck Henry and Billy Hayes (of Midnight Express fame), DNL rewrote the music to the play’s seven songs.
From 1987 to 1991, David Nigel Lloyd and His Mojave Desert Ceilidh Band became Los Angles’s first Celtic Folk Rock band. From 1983 to 1984, DNL was lead guitarist for the Post-Punk DeDe Troit Band with bassists Glenn Cornick (Jethro Tull) and Rock n Roll Hall of Famer Billy Bass Nelson (Parliament Funkadelic).
DNL has also served as a teaching artist in public schools for over 25 years. His key school presentation is entitled Old & Strange: Songs of the North Country.