The Doctor is going out in style
ANNA MARIA – He’s one of the most endearing and enduring musicians in Manatee County, and when he appears at Bayfest on Oct. 20, it will be the first stop in his four-stop Farewell Tour. After that, no more house calls for Dr. Dave Ferguson.
“After five decades, I have decided to go out on top,” he said. “My health is still good, but I find I’m not enjoying it as much as I used to.
“If I spend seven to eight hours preparing for and playing a performance, I might get two hours of enjoyment out of it,” he continued. “At 2:30 in the morning, faced with carrying around my equipment, I would rather be at my beautiful home with my beautiful wife.”
Ferguson made a good living over the past four decades. He was a musician for 40 years and a teacher for 30 before retiring a few years ago. He is still an adjunct professor at Southeast University.
“It’s been quite a ride for me,” he said. “In the 70s, I was teaching at Sugg Middle School, and I went to Foley’s to watch the live music with my friends who told me, ‘Maybe you’d like to play.’”
From there, he became a regular performer around the area. He has crafted a lively repertoire of country and rock and his audiences listen, sing along and dance to the music. He said he hated to inform his band.
“My band members are the best bunch of guys I ever worked with,” he said. “They were all supportive of my decision.”
Ferguson, who has played with the Dr. Dave Band for 12 years, lived in Bradenton since the mid-1970s and moved to the Island in 1988, where he resides today. He said he started performing solo, and then with a partner and finally a band.
“I feel like I helped bring bands back in style,” he said. “I started solo, then in a duet and finally 16 years ago, a band. Now there are more places to play and more bands and some of them are pretty good.
“When people performed solo, they had a computer with background music,” he said. “I think people grew tired of that sound, and they enjoy live instruments.”
As for his sound, he said the crowds seem to enjoy the fiddle and banjo that enhance the country rock sound. He talked about the significance of a recent CD he recorded, “Big fish, small pond.”
“A lot can be said for living on a local level,” he said. “I feel, I could have gone national, but I enjoy being popular on a local level, like a big fish in a smaller pond.”
Will he miss performing?
“Of course,” he said. “When I go somewhere where I used to play, like the St. Pete Rib Fest with Eddie Money and Trace Adkins, now I'll have to turn it down, but I’ll be happy to watch from the audience with my beautiful wife.”
But this might not be the Doctor’s last call. He said he might return to some of his regular festivals, if they want him.
“My favorite is Bayfest,” he said. “I played there when they first held it near Walgreen’s in the shopping center, and I grew with it.
“Now it’s held in a beautiful setting,” he said. “I used to play Fridays, but (Chamber President) Mary Ann (Brockman) asked me to perform on Saturday to keep the audience going.”
Another favorite is the Gulf Coast Rib Fest at the Manatee County Fairgrounds, he said.
As for reaching the end of an era, he embraces it.
“I always wanted to be the one to choose to quit,” he said. “I never wanted to fade away because I wasn’t good anymore.”