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Posted: March 2, 2011 4:25 p.m.

Tuned in to Dark Shadows

Oxford professor's CD pays homage to cult favorite Gothic soap opera

By Brittany Thomas/

Growing up watching "Dark Shadows," Oxford College history professor David Leinweber had no idea that decades later his love for the cult hit would inspire him to pen songs that have attracted national attention and even a phone call from one of the show’s stars, nearly 40 years after the show went off the air.

"I’ve always liked the show," said Leinweber. "I was one of millions of kids who watched it every day coming home from school."

The show ran from 1966 to 1971 and was tagged as a Gothic soap opera, essentially the precursor to things like "Vampire Diaries" and "Twilight." The show started out telling of a dream that creator Dan Curtis had of a girl taking a long train ride to visit a large mansion. Roughly a year later, the show introduced the character of Barnabas Collins, a vampire, and at one time or another featured werewolves, ghosts, zombies, witches and warlocks and even time travel.

The show has continued to gather and keep a large following of fans, including actor Johnny Depp and director Tim Burton, who are working on a movie adaptation.

Leinweber was watching old DVDs of the show in the summer of 2009 when he wrote "Daphne," based on the character Daphne Harridge, played by Kate Jackson. He performed the song at Eddie’s Attic with a friend and got such a positive response that he posted a video of the performance on YouTube. Shortly thereafter he received a call from Jackson herself, praising him.

 "She told me how much she loved the song and was nice and positive about it. She said she had played it for Cher several times. That was encouraging, so I began thinking about finishing up some more ‘Dark Shadows’-based songs," he said.

Leinweber wrote many of the songs while watching the show. Although it isn’t necessary for a listener of the CD to know the show in order to enjoy the CD, many who are familiar with "Dark Shadows" will remember the characters because of it, and those who have never watched an episode can still relate.

"It’s a singer/songwriter effort," explained Leinweber. "There are ballads that will stand alone, but there are also several ghost story songs that are based on the show and everyone likes a good ghost story."

Some who seem to like what Leinweber is doing are New York critics; several of which he says are reviewing the CD for their publications. There are also talks about using the songs to create an opera or musical for the stage that he says would be "ideal" with a cast and period costumes. But Leinweber wants to stress that for those who aren’t in the know, neither the show nor his CD are gory, but are instead, Gothic.

"‘Dark Shadows’ was a Gothic show," he said. "It wasn’t gory. Some people called it horror but it wasn’t; it was really romance and it was always more spooky then it was gory or horrific, and I hope I caught that on the CD — kind of like you’re in another world where the everyday rules just don’t apply."

Leinweber’s CD can be purchased from the Oxford College bookstore or online at www.cdbaby.com. Those interested can also see Leinweber play at Amici Italian Café on March 11.

 

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