Almost three years ago, I spoke with Stan Davis about his new CD “Walking the Hathaway Road” and a show he was planning at the time to hold at Meetinghouse Arts in Freeport. Well, fast forward to now and a similar scene is recreated: a new album (“All They Know”) and a CD release show (and a free one too) in the same location, this time at 4 p.m. on Sunday. March 13. 20. For more information, send an e-mail [email protected]. Like before, I called him at his home in Wayne to find out more about his latest 14-song collection of slices of life and love and what’s been going on with him since the last time we spoke. I started by exclaiming how much I enjoyed this soon to be released CD.
Q: It made me laugh in places and get really moved in others – it’s a well-balanced and entertaining album, that’s for sure.
Davis: Thank you. I wanted to connect because since the start of the pandemic what was missing was connection with others, so I wanted this music to connect – what you say is awesome.
Q: One of the things I liked was that the 14 songs were just the right length…there was no incident in the way I was listening to it where I said, “ You know, that needs another verse,” “No, he should have taken that line out”; none of that, it’s really well done.
Davis: Good thanks. I’ll tell you what happened: right at the start of the pandemic, right before it hit, I was actually busy with music for the first time. I was in bars, nursing homes, art galleries and art walks, and all of a sudden I went from full to zero and I didn’t know what to do. So, like a lot of people, I started playing and practicing all the time, it’s what you call ‘sharpening the saw’, to the point that I had injured my hand enough that I had to stop for a while (laughs).
I was fine but all the time I felt like I missed the magic and that connection with people so much and I didn’t feel able to write because I didn’t know how long it was going to last. So I took my favorite songs that I had written all ready and thought, “How can I make them as good as possible?” Where are they too long”, as you said, “what is missing? Where are the words that are not right? And I worked on every song and as I started doing that, I started writing new stuff. And my granddaughter is a song coach, she’s 9 now, and one day she said, “I’m going to assign you a song,” and I said, “Ah, okay. She said, “I want you to write a song that has pictures in it,” and I said, “Pictures? and she put her hand on her hip, like the 8-year-old she was then, and looked at me and said, “You know what a metaphor is, right?!
Davis: (Laughter) And I said, “I’ll do my best to understand.” So I didn’t really know what I was doing, but I just knew that I wanted to change the songs that I liked the most and make them as good as possible, and when it started to fall into place, I thought “Well, there’s an album here.
Q: So it seems like it was happening very organically.
Davis: But then I thought, “I really don’t want to do something in the studio where I’m not connected with people because that was the missing part: that connection, so I was going to do it live one night. without a second take a word or phrase, I just wanted to do what I do live.
Q: So how did it go?
Davis: Well I ended up going for a live (show) on Zoom as it wasn’t safe to do it any other way and it turned out to be a very cool way to do it as you are in the acoustic purity of ‘a studio where you have peace and yet you have an audience. So working with Jud Caswell on that was great, we sat down with a Zoom audience one evening in November last year and we did that, and I’m really thrilled with how it turned out unrolled.
Q: So it’s really a live performance captured here, only without the applause.
Davis: And the clinking glasses and all that, yeah. I just wanted people to be able to listen to this and say, “This is what I’m going to hear on a live broadcast.”
Q: Now what album number is that for you?
Davis: It’s the third. I did a studio album at Ed Desjardins’ studio with a whole bunch of other players, just a great group of people, and it was awesome, I learned a lot doing that. I took it out and sent it to people and they said, “Is that what we’re going to hear when you come here?” and I said to myself: “Oh, there is a lesson, I had never thought of it!” You can do wonderful things in the studio.
Q: Yeah, recreating him live as a solo artist sure changes that (laughs).
Davis: It’s definitely a challenge, yeah. And then I made one here at home, which you’ve reviewed, and I quite like it but I wanted some help with this one, I didn’t want to have to think about the technical side while I was playing . So it’s the third one and it’s the one that excites me the most.
Q: And let’s face it, when you send it out to theaters, you can say, “That’s exactly what I’m live for!” And its purity, Stan, is what makes it such a great album, it’s just your voice and your guitar and your songs, its simplicity at its best.
Davis: That’s really what I did as a musician.
Q: I’ve always said that music that comes from the heart goes straight to the heart of the listener. Is there anything, Stan, that you would like me to pass on to people reading this article?
Davis: Yeah, I think we all need to take the backpack off. I used to do a lot of long distance hikes with a heavy pack and when you’re done for the day you take the pack off and all of a sudden you’re about an inch taller and you have all that energy . So that’s what happens when you reappear now in the kind of magical feeling of giving and receiving live performance. I’m going to feel that and I hope the audience will feel that: that we can connect in this magical way that happens with music. I really believe that music doesn’t really happen except in a live exchange, it’s just an energy that comes and goes, and that’s what I anticipate and that’s what I hope people will live, it’s just exciting to share this music.
Lucky Clark, winner of the 2018 “Keeping the Blues Alive” award, has spent more than 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.