Kind Words

'Instrumental Health' is an album in the category 'maverick'. Desmelik's strength is an atypical way of making very idiosyncratic songs. Rooted in American singer-songwriter music, of course, but always looking for penetrating melodies and lyrics without adhering to the laws of American songwriting.”                                                                                                  -Ronand Valstar (

“Desmelik's timeless songcraft should be required listening if you're familiar with names like Tweedy and Louris.”               

“Desmelik delivers. He is reliable. He is tenacious, steadfast, and solid. His music is earthy and elemental, unpretentious and observational, and when he’s performing, his head is in the song he is playing for you and the rest of the audience.”            

Attentive listening is the key to maximum return with THERE AND THEN (July 1992 - December 1994).  Preferably listened to with headphones, the time invested is well rewarded on an album where its author dug deeply into his memory vaults to capture the mood of those often daunting and occasionally carefree two years with some aplomb.”                                              

“I love the nostalgia and genuine vulnerability of this album (There and Then). It shows a songwriter of great discipline digging into his origins and sharing a chapter that, while looking back, sounds here and now.”                                                         -Spencer Jones (music host WNCW Radio)

"This is an impressive album from a musician who has been releasing consistently strong music since 1999. Now well into double-figures when it comes to his independent recordings, CLUES OF MY EXISTENCE, is as strong an album as Dave Desmelik has ever released. With superbly crafted musicianship throughout, these nine songs are a real joy to explore."       

"Deeply personal and highly poetic, Desmelik excels at both fuller, rock inspired moments just as he does bare intimacy, and Clues of My Existence certainly holds its own against his impressive catalog of well thought out song craft."                      

"Dave Desmelik with another beautiful album 'Clues of My Existence'. He just makes his own music with a natural expressiveness. Very special!"                                                                                                                                                    (Netherlands)

"Desmelik is an author and singer with vast experience and important knowledge. He writes insightful lyrical stories and his music legacy in many spheres touches psychology of past periods. 'Clues Of My Existence' is another brilliant work of Dave Desmelik."                                                                                                                                                                        (Serbia)

"Desmelik has released 16 albums, yet still finds new themes in daily life around him that he knows how to describe in his lyrics in a fascinating way. This artist no longer has to prove the saying 'Craftsmanship is Mastery'.                                         (Belgium)

“Though intensely personal, Desmelik’s music does what only true art can: it connects us—no matter its subject or theme—to our shared human experience. Listening, we feel in our bones that this man knows us, that he gives voice to the feelings we often find unutterable.”                                                                                                                                                                 -Katherine Scott Crawford (award-winning novelist) 

"The Calendar Album is a very cozy and easily relatable effort that anyone with an interest for alt-country, Americana and folk music will have no problem enjoying and revisiting often."                                                                                          

"The songs vary from blues through bluegrass to folk and country. In short, The Calendar Album is a nice album for those who love Americana."                                                                                                                                                                

"The songs on The Calendar Album capture the zeitgeist of each month in a way that resonates with the songwriter. And while there are hints of melancholy, the record explores a wider range of human emotions and experiences."                               -Mountain Xpress

"Desmelik is a rare talent who not only writes songs filled with powerful lyrics, but also dazzles audiences with his immense guitar picking."                                                                                                                                                            

"Dave Desmelik put together one of the most powerful albums of 2018, Army of Love (Childhood Battles). The result is a collection of honest and raw tunes, many of them told from a child's point of view. Desmelik's writing style is perfectly suited to this telling. He's long had a knack for offering stripped-down lyrics that get straight to the point. On this record, that directness serves as a child-like lens that hits you right in the gut."                                                                                      

"As a collection of songs, Army of Love (Childhood Battles) works extremely well. Naturally, the subject matter makes the album an intensely emotive experience. However, there is a warmth to proceedings too which serves to remind us of the capacity that music has to heal us in times of hardship and the comfort that it is able to provide in times of suffering. A heartbreakingly honest suite of beautiful, bittersweet songs."                                                                                                 

"The themes explored on Where It Takes Us by Nolan McKelvey and Dave Desmelik ring true on both a personal and universal level, and the warm, intimate production displays those songs in the best possible light."                                                  -Bill Kopp

"This album (LIFEBOAT) often sounds desperate, intense, honest and hurting, yet when penetrated, grabs the listener from the outset and doesn't let go."                                                                                                                                                     

"LIFEBOAT, the latest release from singer/songwriter Dave Desmelik, is beautiful, cathertic and disconcerting. Its tender songs are deceptive, dropping the listener from light-dappled shallows into sudden, unfathomable depths. There's real pain here - but that's no reason not to wade in."
   -Alli Marshall

"Desmelik is a musical centipede, because in addition to working as a singer/songwriter and producer of his records, he plays many different instruments on this album LIFEBOAT. Apparently there are few musical secrets for this multi-instrumentalist."

"The dozen tracks that comprise 'Old News' demonstrate again Desmelik's lyrical acumen and innate storytelling gifts. He rarely relates a narrative in mere descriptive fashion but rather via the way his characters relate to the often difficult circumstances they find themselves in."
   -Rapid River Magazine

The Best Albums of 2014 No One Told You About - We Don't Want A Dying Flame - "What can I say, I like the dark side. Desmelik has put together a superb mix of painful instrumentals and lyric driven songs that makes me appreciate my good fortune whenever I spin it."

"This CD (We Don't Want A Dying Flame) is never predictable, it offers a lot of variety for such a basic recording. Well-placed soundscapes, long and short pieces, the return of instruments, building up from quiet to pithy and going back again like dark currents. A very good album, with enough sweetness surrounding the gritty vibe to make it spell-binding from the first to the last minute!"
   -Johanna J. Bodde -

"It should be clear by now, the music of Dave Desmelik deserves much more attention. This American singer-songwriter indeed writes not only roots music of a high level, but also writes roots music that sounds different from his peers, yet remains in this genre with an eye for tradition." (Netherlands)

"Desmelik's music is like the man himself. Natural, with substance, and improves with longevity."

"Desmelik's ninth self-released album (We Don't Want A Dying Flame) is a largely instrumental outing that spotlights his mellow, likeable guitar work and eclectic original compositions. At its best, the record transports you to a place somewhere between George Winston Avenue and John Fahey Boulevard."
   Jeff Burger -,

"Instrumental Swim is a collection of predominantly acoustic instrumental compositions. With the latest effort, Desmelik journeys through a range of moods, mainly navigating with inventive acoustic guitar work."
   -Asheville Scene

"Dave Desmelik is a musician I want to hear more from. Instrumental Swim is a pure delight."
   Dan MacIntosh -

"Meaning and circumstance and emotional response can emerge from many differing sources, and in the case of Instrumental Swim, they coalesce out of the many textures and tensions Desmelik has created. It’s an album of varying moods and swings, shifting from one train of thought to another in ways that lyrics might not."
   James Cassara - Rapid River Magazine
"Deep Down The Definition, the seventh solo effort from the Brevard, NC based singer/songwriter, is a remarkable collection of 14 new tunes, and it cements Desmelik's status as one of the gems of Western North Carolina's flourishing Americana scene."
   Joshua Cole - Mountain Xpress

"Almost a song cycle of life and death and the little that matters in between, Deep Down The Definition is a great album that recalls the likes of Richard Thompson and Richmond Fontaine in its downbeat and occasionally bitter sense."
   Paul Kerr - Blabber-N-Smoke (UK)

"Desmelik has a gift for coaxing the listener; for stringing you along until the music connects with something inside you, and it all suddenly makes sense."
   Brent Fluery - BoldLife Magazine

"A voice that has the ability to move you both spiritually and emotionally."
   -Maverick Magazine (UK)

"Desmelik is undeniably more than the stereotypical "man accompanies himself on guitar". He has the ability to differentiate purely on the basis of character."

"I can't believe anyone who hangs around here would not want to hear this album (Deep Down The Definition); it certainly makes me want to grab some back catalogue - plenty recommended."

"There's some really beautiful playing (Onlooker): Dave Desmelik himself on guitars, mandolin, banjo, and piano decorates his own songs with some real delicacy, broadening the emotional landscape created by each song."
   John Davy - (Flyinshoes Reviews)

"Dave Desmelik's brand of Americana is the kind that makes you neither cry in your beer nor suck it down at a grim pace. His is the kind that makes you stop drinking for just a moment to acknowledge it with an emotional nod, a shiver of recognition that touches your own experience."
   Joe Sample - Focus Newspaper

"Desmelik's songs vary from ballads to toe-tapping scores, but the common denominator is listener-friendly arrangments that you don't have to be an Americana enthusiast to appreciate."
   Jason Turner -

"Western NC singer/songwriter Dave Desmelik writes high-quality folk songs filled with introspective lyrics, but what really makes him shine is his instrumental prowess. He plays with authority that grabs even the most casual listener's full attention."
   Dan Armonaitis - Spartanburg Herald-Journal

"Onus B. Johnson (McKelvey, Desmelik, and Bays) wasn't just a normal band. For several years there, Flagstaff was hypnotized by them - a result of their inter-personal chemistry, stunning musicianship, emotive songwriting, and high energy live shows. In Flagstaff history, no other band has come close to instilling the kind of fervor that Onus did."
   Ryan Heinius - FlagLive

"Desmelik's music is honest, his are relevant questions, and he plays guitar viciously. This man carries with him the legacy of a dying breed."
   Rein van den Berg -

"With this album, Desmelik assembles an impressive collection of NPR-ready songs that are both traditional-sounding and contemporary. When Your Eyes Are Closed is respectful of its simple heritage, while remaining slightly unconventional and adventurous." 
   -Performer Magazine (southeast)

"Desmelik doesn't write a song to hear a couple of chords slide together, although the combinations adamantly succeed, he tells a story. His perspective is that of a country boy who's not exactly country, a traveler who sees the world from his front porch, yet relates it with quiet authority."

Humbling Achievements

-Albums have been voted numerous times by listeners of WNCW Radio in Top 100 New Releases and Top 20 Regional Releases of year.

-Placed many times in various categories of yearly "Best Of" Mountain Xpress Readers' Poll.

-Albums have placed on the EuroAmericana Chart, Roots Music Report, Freeform American Roots Chart, and North Carolina Roots Radio Chart.

-“If It’s Good For You” was chosen in the Top 25 Songs of 2010 by

-Included on WNCW "Crowd Around The Mic" compilation CDs, volume 9 and 14.

-Toured extensively in support of songs including numerous performances across the USA and a few stops in the UK.

-Onus B. Johnson was a Band Finalist at the famed 2001 Telluride Bluegrass Festival Band Competition.

-18 full-length albums to date as well as two with former band Onus B. Johnson.

-Has opened for and/or shared the stage with some of the hardest-working, creative, and authentic musicians near and far.