Biography for David Gasten, This is Vintage Now series producer
David Gasten is a producer, writer, musicologist, web designer, and published author who currently resides in Hollywood, California. Gasten’s lifelong passion for music and 20th Century culture has led him to bring numerous contributions to the greater cultural appreciation of easy listening and lounge music, silent film, and the current Vintage movement. His current and past clients include artists and entities such as the estate of silent film star Pola Negri; Robbie Robertson (Bob Dylan and the Band); Canadian singer/songwriter Jane Siberry; and producer Adam Hamilton (William Shatner/Jewel) to name a few.
David’s love for Vintage began as a child when he spent time going through anthologies of newspaper cartoons such as Dick Tracy and Krazy Kat. It was during the 1990s Swing Revival, while working as a swing DJ in Dallas under Parisian-taught dance instructor Dr. Miles Jones, that Gasten realized that Vintage was a lifelong passion that he wanted to pursue. “There was a venue hosting swing dances that was decorated with red velvet curtains. The girls would doll up in glamorous outfits, and the fellows would dress sharp and treat the ladies like princesses. They even had a cigarette girl that looked and acted the part. I saw that and I was instantly hooked,” Gasten recalls. “We would go to diners after the dances, play the jukeboxes, and have great conversations over bad diner food. It was like stepping back in time. It was a completely different world with an underlying class and respect, and I had to have more.”
Immediately after working as swing DJ for Dr. Miles Jones, Gasten was mentored as a post-vaudeville style performer for two years by Northern Soul entertainer Little Anthony. Little Anthony’s manager Ray Brondo was close friends with nightclub owner Jack Ruby, and Little Anthony regularly performed at Ruby’s notorious nightlife establishments. (Jack Ruby would later achieve worldwide notoriety for the murder of John F. Kennedy assassin Lee Harvey Oswald.) Little Anthony also headlined the Harlem-based touring road show Charles Taylor’s Cotton Club Revue, and opened for artists such as Chuck Berry and B.B. King.
After moving to Denver in 2004, Gasten involved himself with the swing dance scene there, eventually starting his own swing dance in 2007. “I was frustrated with the established dances, which had an atmosphere that I considered to be a botched version of the original, and I decided to start my own dance to try to foster a friendlier and more authentic atmosphere. We held the dance in the upstairs loft at a church that had a wonderful, worn-in, mid-century vibe, and I tried to pick music for the dance that was energetic and fun, but still had that rich period atmosphere.”
Influenced by his entertainer mentor Little Anthony, Gasten launched the jump blues group David Gasten & the City Kids while running the swing dance in Denver. It was after David Gasten and the City Kids recorded a 2010 demo with The Legendary Pink Dots producer Randall Frazier that Gasten began looking for a way to share the music on the demo. Gasten was actively researching other artists and reissue programs from the time, and saw that there was a rich underground of great music that had an excellent 1950s-style atmosphere but was not being heard. Seeing the trend going towards a need for even stronger authenticity, Gasten decided to create a compilation series that would present the best of these artists in one place. The resulting album, entitled This is Vintage Now, was released on July 21, 2011, and became an instant success in Spotify, amassing 2.3 million song plays as of January 2017. This is Vintage Now Vol. 2: Happiness is a Way of Life is the follow up to that original release.
Gasten relocated to Los Angeles soon after the release of This is Vintage Now, and currently lives and works in Hollywood near Sunset and Vine. He continues to involve himself in the Vintage music scene in the Los Angeles area.