MAGNET Exclusive: Premiere Of David Huckfelt’s “Gambler’s Dharma”

With COVID hysteria taking hold around the country, March 2020 was a month of milestones for David Huckfelt. He and his partner welcomed their first child, and the new dad was putting the finishing touches on Room Enough, Time Enough (Gambler’s Dharma/Fluff & Gravy). The Minneapolis-based singer/songwriter even managed to find a silver lining in the delayed release of his second solo LP, which is out Friday.

“I had some time to send the album around to people and add things to it,” he says. “I wanted to make it as big and wide and full of heart as possible.”

A former third of acclaimed Minneapolis indie folk trio the Pines, Huckfelt brings a similar attention to detail and populist grasp of universal truths to his solo work.

“The themes of space, room and time were there from the outset,” Huckfelt says of his latest batch of tunes. “But as we’ve gotten farther into quarantine, it feels more like a prayer or an intention. The songs on this record address the question, ‘What do you do when your optimism starts to run out?’ It’s the little victories we have—just following through on projects and staying in touch with each other—that seem to be the lifelines.”

Anchored by Huckfelt’s adaption of a weathered folk melody, “Gambler’s Dharma” features Pieta Brown on harmony vocals and Trampled By Turtles’ Ryan Young on fiddle.

“How do you get skillful with chaos and random chance?” poses Huckfelt, explaining the tune’s core sentiment. “It all comes back to finding spiritual medicine in your world and spreading it around to the people you care about.”

A driving motivation throughout Huckfelt’s career has been his support of the Native American community. With an underlying spirit of inclusion and cooperation as its inspiration, Room Enough, Time Enough’s original, indigenous and public-domain songs were recorded at Dust & Stone Recording Studio in Tucson, Ariz., with the help of a vast collective of friends, contemporaries, artists and even a few strangers.

The lineup includes Native American music legend Keith Secola, Giant Sand’s Howe Gelb, South Dakota indigenous vocalist Jackie Bird, harmonica ace Tom Walbank and Calexico alums Connor Gallaher (pedal steel) and Jon Villa (trumpet). There are also guest appearances by Iowa folk institution Greg Brown (father of Pieta) and Young’s Trampled By Turtles mate, Dave Simonett.

“We opened the doors of Dust & Stone, and I stepped out of the way,” says Huckfelt. “Our message was, ‘You’re invited on this rickety pirate ship—nobody’s in charge, and everybody’s welcome.’”

—Hobart Rowland