Patrick Davis is one of the most refreshing singer/songwriters to hit the ears of music fans in a long time. He hails from South Carolina and has a truly original take with his music. He excels at gritty songs about true life. Echoes of Springsteen, Lyle Lovett and Robert Earl Keen. Patrick is a really nice guy and funny to boot. He’ll be touring more and more in Texas and has worked with many Galleywinter favorites. Get to know him a little better with this edition of 20 Questions, then pick up the Chances Are album and see a show!
1. What’s new and exciting with Patrick Davis?
Let’s see… Just got back from Key West, FL where I played the 10th Annual Hog’s Breath Saloon Key West Songwriter’s Festival – you can get more info on the festival at www.keywestsongwritersfestival.com – it was a blast! I just gained an artist/product endorsement deal from Elixir Strings. Played a singer/songwriter night in the round show here in Nashville recently with a new pal Dierks Bentley and a couple of my favorite people, Randy Rogers and Jedd Hughes. Cory Morrow just cut a couple of songs we wrote together for his new album. They are damn good songs and the album is awesome. I am gearing up for a very busy spring/summer/fall where I will be touring throughout the Southeast and Texas. Hopefully gonna get to play a show for you good Galleywinter folks in Texas w/Stoney LaRue on July 23rd! Just found out that I am going to be performing at this year’s Austin City Limits Festival – it will be a full band show on Friday September 23rd! And, I am constantly writing for my new album – going into the studio in the late fall/early winter – can’t wait. My wife and I just had a puppy. Her name is Carly, named after my wife’s favorite French singer, and she is the cutest and most obnoxious thing on the planet.
2. Your writing has been hailed as soulful and real. Your sound has been described as Chris Isaak meets Bruce Springsteen. How would you describe your writing? How would you describe your style?
Over the past few years I have heard varying descriptions of just who, and what, my writing and vocal style remind music listeners of. I have heard folks say I am Country, Southern Rock, Progressive Country, Country/Rock, Alt-Country, Rock, Folk, Pop Rock, way too Country, way too Rock, etc. Now who is right and who is wrong on this matter? I have no clue. I suppose I would rather just like to think that my music is a mixture of everything I have grown up listening to over the past 20 years or so. I mean when I think of my music I think of Bruce Springsteen hanging in Asbury Park, Bob Seger running against the wind, Tracy Chapman driving a fast car, Lyle Lovett wishing he had a boat, Tom Petty refusing to back down, Chris Issak not wanting to fall in love, Robert Plant professing babe I’m gonna leave you, Ryan Adams being young and getting high, Bill Wither’s searching for a little sunshine – I mean the list could go on for days and days!
3. Name association:
Django Walker – One of the nicest guys in the world, possibly the funniest and a really bad heads up poker player – (laughs)
Pat Green – A very good person who knows the music business.
Randy Rogers – Crafty little devil!
Cory Morrow – one of my best friends from the Texas music scene and possibly the most misunderstood.
Wade Bowen – honest, the Bruce Springsteen of Texas
Lyle Lovett – The man – the motherf*ckin’ man!
4. Your father, Rusty Davis, is a notable musician/figure in South Carolina music. Discuss what it was like growing up with a father in the “biz” and how that has helped your career. Have there been any negative side effects of growing up around the music business?
As you mentioned my father is an extremely well respected member of the South Carolina music community. In fact, I have no problem saying that my dad is one of the top ten blues/rock guitarist I have ever heard or seen play (and believe me this ranking has nothing to do with him being my ole’ man). Now although my dad did show me my first guitar chords somewhere around the age of 16, I truly believe my dad’s biggest contribution to my musical education was that growing up in my father’s house he unknowingly helped me understand how important music can be to a human being. I mean we grew up middle class, with not a whole lot to brag about, and while there were some very tough times for my folks, my dad always seemed to be at ease when he was listening to, or playing music which is why we always tried to keep music playing somewhere in the house. So I guess it is only natural that over time I began to gravitate more and more towards music.
5. Members of Trey Anastasio’s backing band played on your record. Did you have to follow Phish around for several months to get those guys to agree to play on your record?
No, (laughs)- although I did attend one Phish concert a few years back just to see what all the fuss was about. The member of Trey’s new band that you are speaking of happens to be one of my best friends in the whole world, Les Hall (Les is also Howie Day’s band leader). Les and I met back during my college days at The University of South Carolina and have played music together in some form or another for the past 7 or 8 years. In fact, our first band back in Columbia, SC
consisted of the following lineup; myself on guitar and vocals, Les on Keys, Howie Day’s Sound Engineer Herbie Jeffcoat on lead guitar, a great SC musician named Hesham Mustafa on bass and Prince’s drummer for the past 5 years John Blackwell on drums (yeah that Prince!) – killer band!
6. Stories behind the following songs:
Just Like The Nite – Well every now and then after the sun goes down you can get a little lonely and one of those lovers that got away creeps back into your mind. I think this happens to us all from time to time – all alone, the radio starts playing a sad song and you start thinking about the fact that you are all alone and listening to a sad song. You know the story! This is just a take on all of that – just a way of trying to deal with another lonely ole’ night.
Can’t Stop Rollin – Don’t ever give up, don’t ever give up (Jimmy V said that)! I am very proud of this tune. When I sat down and wrote this I was attempting to announce to the world just what I was hoping to accomplish by playing music, writing songs, etc – but over time this song has taken on a new meaning for me – one that reminds me to always follow my dreams and never stop believing in the possibilities of what I can do – regardless of how bleak the outlook may presently be. I hope that folks that hear this song can in some way apply this message to their own hopes and dreams.
Faithless Heart – One of my best friends went through a really tough divorce where his wife was cheating on him with a fella across town. The worst part of the whole deal was that his wife was trying to take him to the cleaners by claiming that she was not cheating and that her only reason for wanting out of the marriage was that my best pal had been abusive in the relationship (which was all BS), and then on top of all of that the PI hired by my friend’s family could prove absolutely nothing – so being the true friend that I am… in stepped my wife and I!
See it turns out that since my wife and I call TN home and the nearly divorced couple lived back in SC that the cheating wife did not know my wife’s car – so we were perfect for some top secret surveillance – real James Bond stuff. So there we were in my wife’s little purple Saturn parked down the street from the guilty party’s cave waiting to pounce on her first misstep, and low and behold not two hours after our stake out began we caught her heading across town to the home
of her new lover – and with a few clicks of our infra-red camera (which was a gift from the sorry PI who found nothing) and a little video camera action we saved my friend from years of paying alimony – although he does now have to send my wife and I monthly compensation for allowing his new found freedom!.
So there you have where the story comes from – The Davis’ playing Magnum PI!!
Maybe Tonite – When I initially wrote this song I thought that it may be better suited as a song for someone else to sing (I thought – and still think – that it would be a great song for a young female country artist to cut), but after I sat on it for a little while I realized that if I changed a few words and sang it from the male perspective I could add it to my own repertoire. So… I added
it to my debut album and now play this song at almost every show. Another cool thing about Maybe Tonight is that I have found that this song, perhaps more than any I have written up to this point, seems to really connect with my audience – I mean who doesn’t remember their first big high school romance.
Rock Myself – This song comes from my years of partying, college and more partying at The University of South Carolina from 1996 until 2001 (I stayed a little longer than necessary). There is an area in Columbia, SC that is called 5 Points that is basically USC’s version of UT’s 6th Street and the two main streets of 5 Points are Hardin Street and Devine Street – which is where the reference to the homeless man on Hardin and Devine comes from. I guess the way I like to look at this song is that no matter how tough things become, or how down and out you may seem to be, you should always remember that you can depend on yourself – no matter what.
Nowhere Town – My wife and I first moved to Nashville a few days after our wedding in January of 2002, only to move back to my hometown of Camden, SC 8 months later (that is when we realized how tough Nashville was going to be). It was during that 4-6 month hiatus from Nashville (we moved back to Nashville in early 2003) that this song popped into my mind (I guess you could say I was coming to the realization that if I did not get back to Nashville and pursue my musical dream that I was afraid I was going to be the character in this song – the one who “was gonna be somebody”). Once again, a song about making sure to take advantage of the possibilities this life holds.
Scared to Dream – This is really the only song that I have ever written that deals with love lost. I wrote this one about a girl I dated back in college and what it was like those first few days and weeks after we went our separate ways – which seems to always be a difficult time. I love the way this one turned out in the studio – much different than the rest of the album – just piano, cello,
guitar, lap steel and vocal – it has a haunting characteristic to it – which I feel goes well with the lyrics.
This Life – I wrote this one for my sweet wife, who deserves at least ten more songs better than this for all she puts up with from me. The funny thing about the writing of this tune is that I actually came up with the first few lines after she bitched at me for not writing any songs about her – I just took those words and wrote “I wanna write you a melody/so the whole world can see/just how much you mean to me” and “I wanna sing you a lullabye…” – sounds crazy but that is where that came from. My favorite part of this song is the killer B3 rumble that my buddy Les Hall plays to start the track off – he is a bad mother!
7. You covered Gram Parson’s “Oooh Las Vegas” on your debut album Chances Are. What kind of influence has Gram had on your music? Why that song?
Gram Parson’s seems to be the real “it” boy for Country Rock music these days – seems everybody wants to claim him as their big influence, and no disrespect to Gram or his followers, but I would have done “Las Vegas” if it was originally written and recorded by Wayne Newton. I say this because the version of “Las Vegas” that I grew up on was not the stellar Emmylou and GP version but a version that my dad used to play at his acoustic shows back home in South Carolina (which is why the chorus melody that I use on my album is a bit different than the GP version – I just sing it the way by dad used to play it). Now before I get hate mail from GP fans let me say this… Although I did not really get into studying GP until late in my college years, I was very surprised to find that once I did get my hands on a GP album I already new most of the songs. See my father has always been a huge Byrds fan, which was the initial band that brought GP to prominence, so I unknowingly grew up listening to GP on Byrds songs my dad had playing on the home stereo like “You Ain’t Going Nowhere”, “Your Still On My Mind”, “Take Me Back Home” and other great GP flavored tunes. So I guess GP has to be considered one of my bigger influences – even if I did not realize that he was who I was hearing growing up.
8. Hootie and the Blowfish lead guitarist Mark Bryan produced your record. Talk about what it was like to work with him and how that partnership came about.
Mark is one of the few individuals that you meet in this world who honestly cares about everybody else as much as he cares about himself – which is a quality I wish we all had. I met Mark back when I was just getting started in college through a friend/girlfriend that I was hanging out with who just happened to be Mark’s wife’s cousin. At the time Mark was in the biggest band in the world and I only new about three chords and four songs on the guitar (which has actually not changed much), so while we did discuss some music our initial topics of conversation were always sports. In fact, it was not until a few years later that Mark and I actually sat around and played some music together, up until then we had just played basketball together at The University of South Carolina’s PE Center – and I naturally always won – just kidding – Mark is like 6’8″. Fast forward a few years and you have the situation that arose with me getting more serious about my music and Mark stepping in to produce a demo and eventually an album. Mark as a producer is very talented, with a couple of insanely great qualities in the studio – which I feel put him a notch above many of today’s top up and coming producers. The first of these traits is that Mark is very good at bringing out the best in each artist and musicians that he works with. You see Mark is very passionate about music and in the studio his passion and overall good vibe just rolls off on each track he has a hand in recording – can anybody say “Hold My Hand”. The second enduring quality that Mark brings to the studio is his knowledge that musical success can be achieved! I mean say what you will about Hootie and the Blowfish, but it is hard to argue with the knowledge that comes from nearly 30 million albums sold world wide! Hopefully this is all brought out on my record – and will also be on Django’s new album, which Mark is producing this summer.
9. Who has better BBQ. Texas or South Carolina?
I love my South Carolina Pork BBQ, but Texas may have the edge on this one! In fact every time I fly into Austin I HAVE to have some brisket, and lots of it! My mouth is actually watering just thinking about it.
10. Talk about the challenge of a non-Texas artist breaking into the Texas music scene.
Texas is tough – I mean really tough for a non-Texas or Oklahoma artist to break into. I’ll break this down into a few of the biggest obstacles:
1. Travel – Texas acts are for better or worse touring machines. Wade, Randy, Django, Cory and everyone else are constantly hitting every market in Texas and if you are not located somewhere in the red dirt area this type of touring is nearly impossible.
2. Texas Pride – Let’s face it – you guys are very proud of your musical heritage. This is something I don’t really have any problem with since the list of Texas artist that I consider as influences is long – very long. But if you are from outside of the area, I believe you are going to face a much tougher task gaining a strong following within the borders of Texas than someone who is from the lone star state.
3. Saturated Market – I have had this conversation with many of my Texas music pals and it seems that many folks feel that Texas’ music scene (especially the country/rock/singer/songwriter scene) is a bit flooded right now. I don’t say this to belittle anyone’s dreams of being the next Pat Green or CCR or REK, I am just saying that like any form of business that becomes successful, whether it be the Nashville Country Scene of the early 90’s or the dot com companies of
California in the mid-late 90’s once Americans see that success can be had following a certain business model it is only a matter of time before a great number of people (perhaps too many people) are going to try and find that same success. Once again, I am not saying this to belittle or discourage anyone who wants to follow their musical dream, I am just saying that no matter how good an act is it is still very difficult to gain a substantial following in any market, whether it be Austin or Portland, OR if that market already has 1000 acts that fall into the same musical category.
11. Favorite touring memories of the following towns/clubs
Dallas/Gypsy Tea Room – Couple of months ago I opened for Cowboy Mouth with Justin Pollard and Brett Danaher from PG’s band, Casey Twist from WB & West 84 and Austin musician Chris Kline as my backing band – that was rockin’! And the best part was when the CM fellas invited us all back on stage for their encore and Brett, who had been doing a little drinking, pulled a few total rock star moves onstage when he played a solo with a beer bottle, slammed his guitar on the stage and best of all nearly fell over the speakers trying to back kick his guitar -which was lying on the stage floor – it was great and Justin and I nearly cried with laughter – Go Brett!
Houston/Sidecar Pub – Played there once with Cory – pretty uneventful night other than the great steaks they served us after sound check – that was cool.
Austin/Midnight Rodeo – Played there with Cory not too long ago and was amazed by the fact that it was a huge dancehall! Being from the Southeast I had never seen a dance floor like that before, and I was even more amazed by the fact that after we got done the crowd stayed to two step to everything from Pat Green to 50Cent – crazy!
Key West/Hog’s Breath Saloon – I try and get down to Key West as often as possible, I will actually be down there for the Nashville/Key West Songwriting Festival in May, and when I am there it is usually to play a show at The Hog’s for some extra cash and free merch. My favorite Key West story does not involve me but instead my younger brother, Roger, who came to the Keys to visit one week when I was gigging. See for those of you who do not know Key West, let’s just say it has a rather strong gay population and one early morning after drinking way too much of Grandpa’s cough syrup my brother, who was 21 at the time, got lost trying to walk back to our condo and while asking for directions to our place got propositioned for a little man love by a guy who just assumed that this good looking young fella aimlessly walking through the back streets of Key West at 4AM had to be a young, red headed, shirtless prostitute. Talk about sobering you up
real quick – Roger is still trying to get over this one!
Austin/Gruene with Envy Awards – I really enjoyed this year’s Gruene with Envy Awards Show – I thought it was very cool that so many of the artist that make Texas music such a strong force came together and played – nice evening.
San Antonio/Jack’s Patio Bar -Played a show there with The Lost Trailers back in December and while the show was great the story on how I got to the show is the cat’s meow! I had a rental car for my week down in Texas that I was driving from Austin to San Antone for the LT gig at Jack’s Patio and wouldn’t you know that right outside of San Marcos I hit a huge traffic backup on I-35 and while sitting in traffic I got rear ended by a DWI, which totally spun me around, tore off my bumper, destroyed my muffler, etc. Here is where the story gets a little dicey…because I did not take out the renter’s insurance through the rental company I was told that I was completely screwed and could not get another car until at least Monday morning (when the branch manager would be back in). So there I was stuck on the side of the road, 50 miles from San Antonio, with just my guitar and a tow truck operator who just happened to be my saving grace on that cold December afternoon. The tow truck operator just happened to have a mechanic pal who worked in San Marcos but lived in San Antonio who he knew was working late that Saturday evening and wouldn’t ya know that kind mechanic agreed to take me down to San Antone – so I got to the gig – amazingly.
Nashville/Blue Bird Café – The Bluebird is one of those places that for whatever reason seems to have a larger than life persona that few venues, or even individuals have. My initial show at the Bluebird was a couple of year’s ago and all I can really remember about the show was that I could not believe how small and quiet the place was. I mean 120 people tops and not one word – people were actually shushing people who would talk – strange.
Nashville/3rd and Lindsley – Just played a great gig at this very hip Nashville venue with Dierks Bentley, Randy Rogers and Jedd Hughes, and although I have played this room many times I must admit this was by far the most fun I have had at 3rd. Randy drank too much, Dierks played his hits and Jedd burned up his guitar – and I just tried to hang on.
Atlanta/Chastain Park – Played this incredible and historic venue with Hootie last year as a solo acoustic act. Needless to say I was very nervous, but once I got a few songs into my set I had calmed down and when I had nearly 7,000 people who had never before heard “Can’t Stop Rolling” singing the final chorus it was one of the best moments of my life.
12. In the tradition of Pat Green and Cory Morrow’s “Songs We Wish We’d Written Album”, what are 10 songs you wish you’d written?
“Thunder Road” by Bruce Springsteen- Hell I wish I had written any of the tunes on his first three or four albums, but this one has possibly the best opening verse of all time
“Fast Car” by Tracy Chapman- Just an amazing song – such a beautifully sad story
and that chorus – wow – breath taking!
“Long December” by Counting Crows- Adam Duritz is in my humble opinion the best pop/rock singer songwriter of the past 15 years and this one is one of my favorites – and to think he wrote this in about an hour and recorded it the next afternoon – tell me how do you do something this good in less than 24 hours??
“Jacksonville Skyline” by Ryan Adams/Whiskeytown- This is a Whiskeytown/Ryan Adams classic – probably could have chosen 20 other Ryan Adams tunes for this.
“Let It Be” by The Beatles- Couldn’t do this without adding at least one Beatles song and while I could have picked a Lennon composition I really like the beauty and meaning this one conveys to everyone who hears it – Nah Nah Nah Naana Naanaaaa
“The Letter” by Joe Cocker- This is an old Boxtops song, but the version I wish I had written is the killer Joe Cocker version – which is everything I think Rock n’ Roll should be – a killer vocal, a killer band and The Staples Singers singing harmony – yes.
“One” by U2-This song is just damn near perfect! Perfect melody, production, lyrics, everything.
“LA County” by Lyle Lovett- Being the massive Lyle Lovett fan that I am I could compile this entire list with nothing but Double L tunes, but instead I am going to pick this one. I remember the first time I heard it I had to replay it a few times just to make sure that I was hearing the end of the story right – only Mr. Lovett could mow down his true love at her wedding.
“Wicked Game” by Chris Issak- Chris Issak is the man – this is just three chords and a cloud of dust – with one of the best vocal melodies I have ever heard. And even if you don’t know this tune – you got to at least know the video.
“Small Town Saturday Night” by Hal Ketchum- Hal did not write this one, but damn it is great tale of a small town on a weekend – could be anybody’s hometown.
13. You’ve played some gigs with members of Wade Bowen and Pat Green’s bands backing you up. Talk about that partnership and just when are those guys going to sign on with you full time?
Wade and Pat have both become friends of mine over the past year or so and through my friendships with those guys I have been lucky enough to get to know most of their band mates – which is how I got Casey, Justin and Brett to agree to play a few Texas dates with me.
(laughs) As for getting those guys to play with me – I don’t foresee that going down any time soon! I love those guys and would be honored to have them on stage with me at any time, but I think they are pretty darn happy with their current jobs.
14. As noted earlier, you worked with Mark Bryan from Hootie and the Blowfish and have received some great support from them. So, I figured it’d be cool to ask you about this. Do you like the Burger King Crispy Bacon Cheddar Ranch sandwich?
Unfortunately I have yet to try the BKBCR but I will say that seeing DRuck in that cowboy getup was well worth the price of admission! I mean Darius is really a good ole’ country boy at heart, so that outfit may seem a bit extreme to some folks, but it is not to far off from who he really is – after all he does cover songs like “You Don’t Have to Call Me Darlin” and “We Sang Dixie” and hang with Radney Foster – which means he can’t be too bad – great freakin’ commercial.
15. Growing up in a musicians family you must’ve been exposed to some great music growing up. What are some of your earliest musical memories and favorite songs?
I always remember hearing Clapton, The Byrds, Zeppelin, The Beatles, Jim Croce, Cream, The Kinks, CSN&Y, The Moody Blues, Hendrix, Steve Windwood, Joe Cocker, Neil Young, Paul Simon and a slew of other late 60’s early 70’s acts. And as for songs I just remember always hearing music – not really songs – although as a kid I loved hearing “Yellow Submarine” – it was a silly song that a kid could relate to!
16. In your song “Maybe Tonite” you have the lyric “it feels so right to be so wrong”. Is that true?
Not so sure about that – being wrong may be ok sometimes, but being “so” wrong can get you in a heap of trouble – especially when you are married (laughs).
17. Who are your career role models and what are your long term career goals?
I am a big fan of the career path that folks like Lyle Lovett, Bruce Springsteen, Dwight Yokam, Tom Petty, Chris Issak and Pat Green. Seems to me that all of these guys really have had a good idea of what it was they were after and always kept that is mind – never wavering to far from what it was that got them to the dance.
Long term I would really like to be able to become successful to the point that I am a career act. I would like to be playing to large audiences throughout the entire world and have success in both my songwriting and performing – but then again I would just be happy to continue to be able to have folks want to hear my songs.
18. Rapid Fire:
Favorite Nascar driver – Dale Earnhardt Jr.
Favorite Hootie tune – “Earth Stops Cold at Dawn”
Tigers or Gamecocks? – Go Cocks and God Bless Steve Spurrier!
When you pick up a guitar, what’s the first chord you automatically go to? – I always go for the very tough, hard to learn – G Major!
19. Everyone gets this question, even you! Favorite George Strait song.
“Amarillo By Morning”
20. Compare/contrast the music being made by independent artists such as yourself and the guys in the Texas scene with most of what the major labels are pumping out.
Well I believe that both sides have their good and their bad. I mean for every Dierks or Pat there are two major acts that are not all that good, just like for every Cory and Randy there are two less than stellar Texas acts. I suppose the difference is that the major label acts that are not up to par are still stuffed down your throat on the radio and TV while you can just choose not to go see the
bad Texas acts.
With this being said, I do believe that the independent music being made by myself and the other acts in Texas that I am proud to call my friends is probably a bit more authentic than what 90% of major labels are pumping out. By authentic I mean major label acts have hundreds of people that they must answer to before they can get their finished albums out to the masses, which in many cases leaves the album and those songs stripped of many of the true colors the artist initially intended on supplying to his audience. Being independent, there is very little of that type of “corporate” pressure, so the listener gets to hear our music almost exactly how each of us intended it being – which is hopefully a good thing.