Dave Insley spent his childhood in the tiny farm town of Chapman, Kansas. At age 12 his family relocated to Arizona and he fell in love with the Southwest. He stayed in Arizona for years, but also lived occasionally in Wyoming or Mexico. He spent most of his spare time hiking, climbing, playing guitar and writing songs.
During his high school and college years Dave played in country and rock bands, and in 1983 his cowpunk group, Chaingang, debuted in Tempe. Chaingang played country music for punks, at places like Mad Gardens, Merlin’s, and the Mason Jar, ending their run in 1987 at the Sun Club. After that he moved to Flagstaff and started Politics or Pontiacs, an irreverent acid-folk group who toured Germany, Holland, and Belgium in 1988.
Dave’s next project was the Nitpickers, a Tempe-based bluegrass band who performed often at Long Wongs on Mill Avenue during the mid-1990’s. Another Insley group, Trophy Husbands, released two country records and, for a few years, toured nationally. In 2005 Dave released his solo debut, Call Me Lonesome. That year the Arizona Republic newspaper named him Arizona’s Best Songwriter, and Call Me Lonesome made Third Coast Music‘s Top 10 Debuts of 2005.
Dave relocated to Austin, Texas in 2006 and released Here With You Tonight, debuting at #1 on the FAR chart and garnering praise from former Downbeat editor and Village Voice contributor Nat Hentoff, who wrote that Dave “immediately held my 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 his grittiest album, West Texas Wine. 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 new release, Just The Way That I Am, showcases Dave’s most mature writing and nuanced performance to date, and features a raft of talented special guests. Years of playing the Texas dance hall circuit and the Austin club scene have made a dangerous weapon of Dave Insley’s Careless Smokers. In 2013, they began a weekly residency at a new Austin club, the White Horse Saloon. Unless they’re on tour, they continue to play to a packed house every Saturday at the White Horse from 8:00-9:30.
Dave and his family live in downtown Austin. He enjoys running, bicycling, reading and movies (especially old Westerns). He is a dedicated husband and father of four beautiful children.
“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