David Giegerich, an award-winning musician and a nationally known dobro and steel guitarist who was a co-founder of the Hula Monsters, a Hawaiian swing and country combo, died Dec. 29 of aplastic anemia at the University of Maryland Medical Center.
The longtime Ellicott City resident was 57.
"Dave was always playful and joyous with his music. He had a wonderful ear for melody and harmony and a great sense of rhythm and time," said Tom Mitchell, a guitarist and a co-founder in 1988 with Mr. Giegerich and Moe Nelson of the Hula Monsters, whose musical repertoire included swing, Hawaiian and American roots music.
"What got us together — and we had the same record collections for starters — was a love of Western swing, old jazz and swing. Dave always worked hard getting everything just right and to just his satisfaction," said Mr. Mitchell, a close friend for more than 20 years.
"His music never sounded practiced and was always very inventive and thoughtful. Dave really was the force behind the sound and direction of the Hula Monsters," he said.
Born in Chicago to a musical family, Mr. Giegerich was raised in South Haven, Mich., where he graduated from high school.
Mr. Giegerich began playing the guitar in the early 1970s, and within a year or so, fashioned his own slide guitar.
He attended Michigan State University in Lansing for several years, where he taught himself how to play the dobro before dropping out to pursue a musical career. He later earned his bachelor's degree at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County.
After moving to Fredericksburg, Va., in the late 1970s, Mr. Giegerich became a well-known figure and performer in the local bluegrass community.
While living in Fredericksburg, he met Pamela McLeod, a Spotsylvania, Va., native, in 1980. After marrying five years later, the couple lived in Chapel Hill, N.C., and in Florida before moving to the Washington area in the 1980s.
While in Virginia, he played in several bluegrass bands, some of which included Stony Point, the Jimmy Arnold Band, and Bill Harrell and the Virginians.
He performed with many groups and solo artists, including Cathy Fink, Arty Hill and the Long Gone Daddies, Wayne Taylor and Appaloosa, Bill Kirchen, Marci Marxer, Eva Cassidy, Bobby Hicks and the Red Stick Ramblers, Johnny Gimble and, since 2002, Smooth Kentucky.
In addition to his on-stage work, Mr. Giegerich, who had lived in Ellicott City since 1996, taught resophonic guitar to hundreds of students at music camps across the country.
For the past 13 years, Mr. Giegerich's day job was working as an audiovisual specialist for the University of Maryland School of Social Work. Earlier, he had worked in a similar capacity for the University of Maryland School of Law.
Mr. Giegerich's instrument of choice was the dobro or resophonic guitar, but he was equally facile playing the pedal steel guitar, lap steel guitar and electronic mandolin.
Gary Ferguson, a guitarist who played with the Hula Monsters and Mr. Giegerich's new bluegrass band, East of Monroe, said his friend was a sought-after session player with contributions on more than 70 albums and CDs.
In the late 1980s, Mr. Giegerich recorded a solo CD, "Slide-Tracked," his wife said.
"Dave's reputation as a sideman with tasteful backup licks and understated stage humor landed him on stages from the White House to Lincoln Center," wrote Mr. Ferguson in a tribute posted on "The Bluegrass Blog."
In Baltimore, Mr. Giegerich performed at Roots Cafe and for 13 years had played at Hank Williams tribute shows at the Birchmere Music Hall in Alexandria, Va. He also played at private parties, weddings, dances and festivals.
"He played festivals all over the United States, Canada and Europe. Lauded by his peers, Dave won 11 Wammies — the annual awards presented by the Washington Area Music Association — in the Bluegrass, Country and World Music categories," Mr. Ferguson wrote.
Dave Chappell, a Columbia guitarist who had played with him for years, said Mr. Giegerich had a "great passion for music and musicians. He loved everything."
"He was definitely important to me and the community. For a lot of years, catching Dave and the Hula Monsters at the Cat's Eye in Baltimore on Tuesday nights was the thing to do," Mr. Chappell said. "He was very talented and could play anything with strings. Everyone admired his playing, and he was very humble. He never realized how good he was."
He praised his friend's versatility and ability at "picking up the subtle nuances of a piece."
"Dave could play traditional bluegrass and then rock out playing a Duane Allman slide guitar," he said.
He added: "Many people across the country have lost a good friend and musician."
"We felt lucky to have known and worked with him," Mr. Ferguson said.