Dave always had a way with words and a knack for music and he started playing in country and rock bands as a teenager. He was born in Kansas and raised in Arizona, but he perfected his musical craft by immersion in the Austin music community for the last couple of decades. But even back when Dave was still a kid he loved writing and singing songs, and his parents let him start playing at local honkytonks when he was still too young to get into a bar without them. Later, when Dave was an art major at ASU (around 1983), he debuted his cowpunk band “Chaingang” at the Mason Jar in Phoenix, and his career was off to its unseemly start. The years that followed featured a steady progression of glory-seeking, semi-roadworthy Arizona bands “Politics or Pontiacs,” “Nitpickers,” and “Trophy Husbands.”
In 2005 Dave released his solo debut, Call Me Lonesome and the Arizona Republic named Dave “Arizona’s Best Songwriter.” Out in Texas, Third Coast Music had included Call Me Lonesome in its Top 10 Debuts of 2005. Dave relocated to Austin in 2006 and released Here with You Tonight, which debuted at #1 on the FAR radio chart. Former Downbeat editor Nat Hentoff noted in his review of Here with You Tonight that Dave “immediately held [his] attention not by showboating, but through naturally flowing rhythms, and stories of everyday life and loss, told in a warm, unhurried, and sometimes wry voice of experience.”
In 2008 Dave released West Texas Wine, co-produced with Dale X. Allen and featuring the single “Beatin’ Ya Down.” Writing for Good Sound, David Cantor called Insley’s music “Zen Country,” and credited him with “leaving melodramatic self-indulgence out of the picture.” Dave’s latest release, Just the Way That I Am, finds Insley in top form and features his best writing and performances to date.
Dave continues to live in Austin, where he performs regularly at the White Horse Saloon, the Driskill Hotel, Sam’s Town Point, and the Sagebrush.
“Dave Insley, whose Chaingang achieved a new high in demented lounge buffoonery before ‘taking some time off’ has reformed the original lineup under the name the Franks. ‘It’s the usual Acid-Country-Jazz-Rock Fusion kind of thing’ reports Insley, who brought his wieners back with a bang opening for the True Believers last week at the Mason Jar.”
—Andy Van De Voorde, New Times, May 8th 1985
“Few artists have been as umbilically tied to the local Country scene as Dave Insley. From his mid-80’s Chaingang to his recent work as leader of the Nitpickers and Trophy Husbands, Insley has long been at the fore of Valley twang, and has quickly earned a heap of critical kudos and growing legion of fans.”
—Bob Mehr, Phoenix New Times, April 2000