Primary Instrument: Piano
Dave Hepler has been playing music since the age of 8 when he began his first piano lessons followed by trumpet lessons at age 9. He started playing music professionally with his dad as an 11-year-old lead trumpeter. While studying music at Indiana University, as a trumpet major, Dave reacquainted himself with the piano, doing required class piano and studying privately as he improved very quickly. As a music student the habit of playing piano by ear and for fun started. For hours in practice rooms at night he worked simple melodies out and experimented with left-hand parts that would fit or sound interesting.
Having grown up with a trumpet-playing father (nightly in the basement or with big band records on the hi-fi), Dave became familiar with a lot of jazz standards. Shortly after college after taking a jazz appreciation class at IUPUI, Dave played a little jazz trumpet and got a job playing solo piano at Stillwater Restaurant in Broad Ripple. After the jazz club called The Place to Start opened, during an open-stage session, Dave met a quiet guitar player named Jay Hammel. The two started getting together just for the joy of playing and found work as a duo. Both Dave and Jay started playing with drummer Harold Cardwell at the Chatterbox, which featured Clarence McCloud on piano (later replaced by Claude Sifferlin) with Frank Glover on sax, and various bass men. Dave then led the first jazz group at the City Taproom in 1984.
In the mid-eighties Dave started working at the Midtown Cafe (now the Midtown Grille) and has been there ever since. It has been a laboratory and home for developing his style as a solo pianist. In the early nineties, the Midtown management wanted a trio and The Dave Hepler Trio began with Harold Cardwell on drums and Matt Thompson on bass.
In early 1994, Dave's first CD was released entitled Birthday Wish. It features a completely improvised first song and some jazz standards with other original songs. In 1995, Dave released a second CD entitled Anomaly with a similar format and personnel. Before Christmas of 1997, Dave Hepler Tidings was released which is a solo piano recording, and the first jazz Christmas CD released by an Indianapolis recording artist. In April of 2001, Dave released Dave Hepler 4, which includes three Hoagy Carmichael songs, a few of his own compositions, a few other standards and a beautiful rendition of America. In November 2004, Song for my Father a solo piano recording dedicated to his late trumpet playing dad, was released. It features five of his own compositions as well as songs that were special to his father.
As a Young Audiences artist he has performed for a large number of music students in many schools since 1998. He does a program/workshop based on spontaneous creativity, composing a piece on the spot, and also works with actor/storyteller Will Gould performing 'Nursery Rhymes All Jazzed Up and Suessed', 'Peter and the Wolf Meets Looney Jazz' and 'The Splendiferous Sendak Side-Men'.
Dave is especially proud of being a husband and step-father of two step-sons, Alan and Josh. Dave and his wife, Robbie, married in 1997 and live on the north side of Indianapolis.