David Beck makes mountain music

David Beck

June 2 | Donner Creek Brewing | Truckee
June 10 & July 14 | 10 Torr Distilling and Brewing | Reno, Nev.
July 29-30 | Ascension Music Festival | Mount Shasta
Aug. 6 | Alibi Ale Works | Incline Village, Nev.
Aug. 26 & Sept. 9 | The Peak | Graeagle

Many people love the mountains. For others, mountains are life itself.

Local musician and builder David Beck lives over Donner Summit in Cisco Grove. A true Tahoe native, mountains are in Beck’s bloodstream. His father is adventure filmmaker Craig Beck; his older brother, Clayton, worked as a pilot and alpine ski coach.

Earlier this month, Beck released his first full-length record, “Mountain Music.” Recorded at home above Beck’s garage, the poignant, nine-song, concept album follows a wandering journey up and down a mountain for a soul-baring, transformative experience. It’s a cohesive, 33-minute LP tied together through its all-natural stories and sounds, all created by Beck.

The album begins with “Algonquin (Mountain),” a call to the highland spirits. The ambient sound of Native American flute swirls around the sacred words of an original poem.

“Yes, I believe we are all a part of a higher being or power,” recites Beck in his sturdy, baritone voice. “Everything is connected in some way. And I can tell you this, the closest I’ve ever felt to God is looking out to the view after I’ve climbed a mountain.”

“I’m a self-taught musician. I didn’t go to classes … I don’t have any theory. My music comes from expressing my inner feelings rather than a mathematical way. It’s a different world I can go to that’s all my own.”     –David Beck

“Ascending” starts with syncopated harmonics before kicking in dramatically with the exquisite ring of an acoustic guitar. The feel of the music evokes Eddie Vedder’s soundtrack for “Into the Wild,” a film about a young man who travels to the mountains of Alaska to follow his dreams. The rolling tune slowly builds as Beck sings, “Take me to the mountains, to the tallest peaks. I want to climb higher and higher, until I find peace.”

In comes a beautifully looped instrumental: “Star Gazing.” The guitars sound bright and shiny, as if they’re echoing within a Sierra Nevada cathedral of rock, snow and shimmering sky. Beck played a Fender Acoustasonic through a Fishman amp for much of the recording.

“It’s kind of like a backpacking trip out into the wilderness,” he says. “It starts with ascending, going up. First, you’ve got to do a big hike and now you’ve made it. Then, you’re there camping at night, looking up to the stars.”

“Eternity” is a minor-key song that delves deep into the narrator’s soul. Beck wrote it while camping in the redwoods of Northern California.

“It’s when you’re immersed in everything,” he says. “It’s a talk with the forest and redwood trees that have been there forever. I have respect for how old and timeless the forest can feel when you’re in it.”

“First Trip Around the Sun” is another dreamy, layered guitar voyage that warms the spirit, written for Beck’s almost 2-year-old son, Kai.

“It’s about being reborn, and everything seems new,” he says.

The upbeat, jangly “Lost and Found” was inspired by a John Muir quote, as Beck sings, “Let’s lose our minds in the mountains. Let’s lose our minds and find our souls.”

He then takes us down the folky rhythms of “Mountain Road.”

“I feel lucky when I’m coming home,” says Beck. “I’m going to Tahoe. That’s my mountain road. The mountains are like my family. They’re everything to me.”

“Inyo” is an intense, almost tribal, instrumental inspired by many backpacking trips he has taken to Inyo National Forest with his wife, Camille. The album concludes with “Pachamama (Mother Earth),” a spirited instrumental that takes us full circle to where we began.

“I wrote that one during one of the biggest snowstorms in Tahoe this winter,” says Beck. “It was a trip.”

The album was released for streaming on all major platforms on May 6. Its completion gives Beck the chance to share with the world his two greatest passions: mountains and music.

“I’m a self-taught musician,” he says. “I didn’t go to classes or anything. I don’t have any theory. My music comes from expressing my inner feelings rather than a mathematical way. It’s a different world I can go to that’s all my own.”

Beck performs numerous solo concerts this summer and can often be found busking at local coffee shops and on the docks of Donner Lake.

“I’ll get people that come down in their canoes,” he says. “When I’m playing in the mountains, it’s magical. It’s significant enough to get high, but with no strings attached. It just feels free.” | tahoemountainfolk.com