I have a new (to me) artist for you this week: Stan Davis. This native Mainer calls Wayne home, and he reached out to me to see if I’d be willing to write about him, his new CD and the release show he’s planned for Friday, May 3, at van der Brew in Winthrop. He selected that particular date because it would have been the 100th birthday of Pete Seeger, his first musical inspiration. To help me prepare for our chat, Davis sent me a copy of his aforementioned new album, “Walking the Hathaway Road.” I must state that I was immediately impressed with not only his songwriting (which has spot-on accuracy that touches the heart) but his voice and musical backing that he supplied by playing acoustic guitar, delta slide guitar, lead guitar and harmonica. In a telephone interview from his home, I began by telling him how much I enjoyed the 10 tracks on his solo release and how much they resonated with my own life experiences.
Davis: Well, thank you. I’ve been writing songs now for about a decade, and this is about 10 of 120 songs. I just thought, “Which of the songs go together, and which of the songs have an over-arching theme of love?” But thank you so much —it’s hard to know.

Q: You’re more than welcome. Just out of curiosity, was this album pretty much straight recorded?
Davis: Yeah, I didn’t do any punch-ins — I didn’t want to. The whole deal with music is that once you get past the certain point of having every single note perfect, then you’re doing the stuff that you couldn’t possibly do in a live performance. Which goes right back to what Vanilla Ice and The Monkees did a long time ago — I wanted it to be stuff I could do. So, it’s just straight recorded — either guitar and then voice and then harmonica or lead, or guitar and voice and then harmonica on top of that. The only over-dub is that I put the harmonica or lead parts in the second pass.

Q: Is this your first recording?
Davis: No, I did an album with Ed DesJardins and a bunch of studio people maybe four years ago. I look at that now, and I don’t like a lot of the songs I did. And it was also one of those things where I couldn’t possibly do that stuff live. But the other thing is I’ve been working, while playing out, on and thinking about what it means to have a style. Each track on that first album was a different type of music, and there was no thematic unity. There was some nice playing on it, but for this one I wanted to have it have some coherence. I had been working on this in my mind for the four years since, and I just settled down and did it.

Q: Well, I think you found your niche, that’s for sure.
Davis: The other thing about the guitar — I don’t know if you noticed — is that I’ve been using Harvey Reid’s partial capo a lot. You can hear that on here because you can hear all this beautiful, I think, single-note bass/hammer-on stuff within chords, and that’s characteristic of my playing these days. I think it makes a really interesting guitar part.

Q: Now, where is the venue located? I’ve never heard of it before.
Davis: Well, this is a new brew pub. It is on Summer Street, which is the road in Winthrop up from (U.S. Route) 202, up toward Wayne… It is a sit-and-listen/good beer kind of place. It’s becoming a gathering place for Wayne and Winthrop and the community for people who want to be able to hear themselves think — and they’re doing all kinds of great music there.

Q: Have you ever thought of performing at Slates in Hallowell?
Davis: I have, and what I’m hoping to do is to use this album and the energy of the beginning to get to Slates — I’d like to.

Q: Yeah, that’s another great listening room.
Davis: Oh, I know — I go there. So, that’s why I wanted to make an album that was really characteristic of my music instead of with a bunch of other people so I could say, “This is what I sound like.”

Q: Is there anything, Stan, that you’d like me to pass on to the folks reading this article?
Davis: Well, I think the thing is that what’s most important to me is for people to understand that anybody can make music — that the idea that moves me is that Thomas Edison did us all in.

Q: How so?
Davis: By inventing the phonograph and showing expert performances to people. At which point, the percentage of people in this country playing music went from the 80s to, I don’t know, the 10s or 20s because they said, “Oh, I can’t play like that!” And that was the influence of Pete Seeger on me: He said, “You don’t have to be the best of something to do it.” You see, music is available — people can make music, people have always made music — so just go ahead and do it. But the other thing is that I’d love to have people come out to the show. And I’d love to play more places, and I just hope people get something out of the songs.

 

Lucky Clark has spent 50 years writing about good music and the people who make it. He can be reached at [email protected] if you have any questions, comments or suggestions.


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