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Great news!  You know the band I've been working with over the past year called Akron Engine?  Well, we're releasing our very first album, "Silhouettes," on Friday, November 30th!  

Earlier this year, we decided to record an album and wanted to take a fresh approach to the recording process.  We didn't go into a studio, we created one at a friend's home perched in the mountains of Woodside, CA overlooking Half Moon Bay (thank you, Darren!).  Check out a short video of the recording process here!

Thanks for the recent Hear This feature!

http://www.theowlmag.com/features/hear-this-davis-jones/

 

 

I hope this posting finds you well and gearing up for the Fall season.  I had a great trip back to Akron, Ohio at the end of September to support a great cause.  Team Go Ghana is the fundraising arm of a new non-profit organization started in Akron and focused on providing medical supplies and services, clothing and other support to the people of Kpandu, Ghana.  The organization is sending a small medical group to the area for three weeks in October to assess the most urgent needs of the people and treat patients for malaria, dehydration, snake bites, tetnus and a many other ailments.  Go Team Ghana will then be assisting Kpandu with the construction of medical facilities and implementation of other support systems that will assist the people in living safer, healthier lives.

 

The send-off party for the trip was Saturday night (September 24th) at Ken Stewart's Lodge in Akron, Ohio.  Although I won't be going to Ghana with the team, the organization invited me to play music for the event.  A true honor to say the least...and in my hometown to boot!  This organization is doing some inspiring work and I encourage you to check them out.  They are getting ready to shoot a documentary in Ghana that will assist them in their fundraising practices and are planning several other events in the US in the next year.  Thought you should know!

 

With much love and gratitude,

 

Davis

 

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I think it was back in October when I was speaking with two beekeepers about royal jelly.  It's literally a fluid secreted by worker bees and fed to all of the larvae of the colony.  When the worker bees are ready for a new queen they select several larvae to receive higher amounts of the substance contributing to their transformation into queens.  I found it to be an amazing and mysterious process.  Like magic.

At the time I was just getting into the recording process for the album.  We were cutting demos and figuring out which songs we wanted to record.  The songs we had to work with were all written over the past year.  In that year I worked hard to deepen the writing process.  I learned new things musically and about myself through it.  It required looking back at all kinds of people and experiences and interpreting them in a way that helped make sense of why things are the way they are.  Royal jelly seemed to fit as a metaphor for the collection of songs.  It's the experiences or people that are given to us all.  It's what shapes us into what we ultimately are or become. 

Much of the music strives for deeper understanding.  Not just through the songwriting but with the performances and recording process as well.  This was the second consecutive album I worked with Tim Mooney of Closer Recording.  We literally had only met once prior to creating the last album.  This time around we knew each other better and had a foundation to work from together.  There was more confidence and trust throughout and I think the music reflects that.  I wanted Tim to challenge me on the songs that we chose to record.  To find what they meant to him and to suggest ways to make them stronger.  He did and as a result we found new ways to approach the music.  It was a collaborative process that expanded our comfort zone.

The soul of the music is worn and hopeful covering a range of themes. Acceptance and vulnerability.  Warmth and desolation.  Love and loneliness.  The arrangements are spacious but full.  I think two albums that really influenced the sound and approach for the recording process were Ryan Adams’ Heartbreaker for its live feel and intimacy and Neil Young's Harvest Moon for its sincerity.  We wanted the songs to be varied in approach and execution while fitting together as a cohesive collection.

Much of what you hear on Royal Jelly is live.  So the basic acoustic guitar, vocal, drum and bass tracks were mostly recorded together at once to analog tape.  I added piano/key parts to about half the songs which I think adds a new color to the music.  Mike Carnahan (who played bass) added some electric guitar parts to a few of the songs as well.  It was my first time working with Mike, but he brought some great ideas into the sessions and was terrific to work with.  Tim Mooney was the engineer and drummer for the sessions.  He is a soulful individual.  Tim brought so much depth and creativity to the process and it was a pleasure working with him again.

Overall I'm excited for you to hear the songs.  Writing and recording music can be intense and exhausting but also a lot of fun!  Every album is a different experience.  It's important to approach things in new ways and learn from everyone.  It keeps one challenged and engaged.  One of the best feelings for me is getting to share new music with people.  I can't wait for you to hear it!

Davis

 

Album Art by Rebecca Cross

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The sun is coming out in San Francisco again.  It's been a long, wet month of March.  One particularly rainy night I was in Berkeley to play a show called "Under the Covers" hosted and organized by Kate Burkart (she played too!).  The show took place at the Berkeley Art House Gallery and Cultural Center and consisted of three Bay Area singer/songwriters covering the artist of their choice.  So, Kate Burkart covered Lucinda Williams, Melissa Phillips and James Deprato covered Tom Petty and I covered Neil Young. 

Learning other artists' music was how I learned to play the guitar and was probably a major influence in the way I construct songs.  In fact, I don't think I wrote a song for the first two or three years I started playing music.  Just tried to soak in as much as I could from those I admired through internalizing their music - words and melodies.  Somewhere along the way though I felt compelled to put my own words down and find my own voice through melodies.  The whole process of songwriting is an exploration and something that feels true to me.  For some folks truth is excercise, for others it's carpentry.  Some find in business or religion, some find it in nature or love.  But it seems everyone finds their own way to make sense of the world.  For me, writing songs felt like a way to be free so the more I did it, the farther I got from covering other artists' work.

Neil Young was certainly one of the artists that inspired me by demonstrating what was possible within a song.  Listening to his music early on really drew me in and learning his songs absolutely helped shape me as a musician.  His approach to songwriting and playing sounds and feels so organic.  The music seems more like something that flows through him rather than something he tries to do or control.  I notice something similar when I write.  It's a feeling more than anything else that is captured in a song.  It's a moment in time.  By accepting it and not trying to force it in any direction something happens, subconscious and true.

It was really difficult to choose a setlist for the show.  Neil Young's career spans like six decades.  But, I definitely had some favorites that I wanted to include.  The set list is below.  I've also included some videos from the night shot by Tom Nowak (thanks, Tom!).

Dreamin' Man

Harvest

Heart of Gold

My My, Hey Hey

Needle and the Damage Done

Hangin' On a Limb

When God Made Me

Harvest Moon

So thankful to Kate for the opportunity to get into these songs and be a part of such a great show.  Kate played as a trio and covered some of the greatest Lucinda tunes.  The influence was clear and beautiful in Kate's style (her performance of "Reason To Cry" was a highlight for me!).  Melissa and James really had everyone in the room engaged.  It felt like we were all part of the music.  That's the point I suppose.  Check out their music!

  • Melissa Phillips (http://www.myspace.com/melissaphillipsmusic)
  • Kate Burkart (http://kateburkart.com/)

 

Until next time...

Davis

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Photo Credit - Vic Owens

Video Credit - Tom Nowak

Hey folks,

I stopped by the KPIG-FM (107.5FM) studio in Watsonville on Sunday for an interview and live performance on their Sunday morning show Please Stand By.  The complete interview and performance is below...

Hi there,

I'm back from the tour of the Southwest and feeling good to be in San Francisco again.  It's been a few weeks now but I'm still processing all the kind people, beautiful scenery and intense weather encountered on the two week run.  Although I had visited many of the places included in the schedule, I hadn't actually played music in any of them prior to the tour.  The shows were all completely different.  Some times there were full rooms and familiar faces.  Other times I was background music in bustling cafes.  I anticipated both.  The challenge is to not let the performances be affected too much in any direction.  That means not giving less because it feels like folks aren't listening and not giving more because it feels like they are.  The truest way to serve the songs is consistency and that's what I was able to work on throughout the tour.

The driving was intense.  Multiple days of 15 hours plus, sometimes through the night.  I checked out a bunch of new music and a few books on tape from the library to keep me company.  That made the long hauls a bit better.  I also gathered a few CDs from artists I shared bills with along the way.  I'm not sure if other songwriters listen to my CDs when we trade, but I always love listening to their albums.  Each one is so unique and I know the amount of effort that goes into recording and producing music.  The most difficult driving night was playing a show in Tucson, getting in my car afterwards (about 8:30pm in night) and driving to Boulder.  That's like a 14-15 hour drive.  The night is peaceful then and the stars in the Southwest are stunning.  The driving starts to get difficult in the late morning but watching the sky lighten and the sun break to the East is inspiring.  The new day holds so much promise and really is wide open.  Seeing the sunrise tends to make me hyper-aware of that.  I love driving so the trek from Tucson to Boulder wasn't bad for me.  The whole Southwest is such a beautiful part of the country.  Feels like the images have been painted in my mind.

One of the most meaningful parts of the whole tour was reconnecting with the people that were kind enough to let me stay with them.  I planned the shows so that I could see and stay with folks I knew in each area.  It's a gift when people let you into their lives.  Everyone's busy with their own plans and struggles.  Catching up on email, through social networks or on the phone are each ways to stay in touch.  But seeing people and actually living with them for a day or two at a time is really personal.  People live the life that makes sense to them and every one of them really is unique.  It's crazy to think about.  Many of the folks I stayed with I hadn't seen for a really long time.  And all that time my life and their lives were carrying on and then just like that we're under the same roof talking about it.  It becomes pretty clear that the gradual changes every day add up to big overall shifts in life.  

Then there was the music.  The sets varied in length from 45 minutes to 3 hours.  That variety was great as it allowed me to get pretty deep into my songbook and play songs I hadn't worked through in a long time.  Playing old songs can be challenging since they are often tied to a certain person or experience in time.  The meaning of the songs doesn't stay the same, it evolves and becomes something new.  For this reason I'll often change the approach to performing the songs.  For example, fingerpicking instead of strumming, adding harmonica solos, changing the rhythm, etc.  Often times this is driven by the energy from the audience or in the room.  It can be a little intimidating to interpret an old song in a new way for the first time in front of an audience but it's also really exciting.  The song then becomes new to me again and the meaning stays relevant.

That's all for now.  Just wanted to get these thoughts down.  The tour was a deep experience and one I won't forget.  Can't wait to get out and do it again. Also, see the video below.  It's from a show I did in San Luis Obispo with Kelly McFarling (thanks for filming the video, Kelly!).  The song is Dear Govinda from the album Winter Midnight.  Hope you enjoy it...

Davis

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Hey gang,

I'm getting set to embark on a two week tour through Southern California and the Southwestern US at the end of the month (see my calendar for the dates!). Before I go, I'm playing a house concert in San Francisco. This will be the last show in SF before the Southwestern adventure. Joining me on the bill is my friend and fellow Bay Area singer/songwriter Rebecca Cross. She's fantastic and I think it'll be lots of fun. Here are the basic details:

  • Date: January 22nd, 2011 
  • Time: 7pm
  • With: Rebecca Cross 
  • Cost: Suggested donation of $5 
  • To Attend:  RSVP to davis@davisjonesmusic.com for house location!

 

House concerts are different than venue shows in many great ways. Anyone can host one since they're essentially a party with live music. It's typically a small donation from each attendee which goes completely to the artists. Most singer/songwriters start off playing in living rooms anyway so it's a very natural way to connect with people in an intimate setting. Many folks bring food and drinks to share with the others there. I love to play them! For more information on house concerts, this is an excellent resource:

http://www.concertsinyourhome.com

That's all for now. Hope to see you soon!

Davis

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Happy New Year!

I wanted to share this video of a recent studio session we had while working on the new album.  See it below!

Hello and welcome to my new blog! This is the place where I'll be regularly posting news and updates. Stop back often...

I'm just getting started on recording a new album. The first day in the studio was last week and it was a doozy! The first phase in the recording process for this album is recording the demo tracks, which is what we did on the first day. These are the songs that will potentially make it on the album but first they're recorded live usually on 1 or 2 takes and with just solo acoustic guitar and vocals (sometimes on piano, or with harmonica too). I write many many songs so I usually come in with more than we need. I like this approach as it gives us some flexibility in case a song isn't translating the way we want it to or we have some extra time for experimentation. Overall we recorded 20 solo acoustic songs...perfect for the double album! Nah, kidding. We'll cut this number down very soon to a more listenable number (maybe 12??). It's difficult to cut the songs down....they're like children to me but it's usually pretty clear which ones are the strongest. Below are a couple of pics from the first day. That kind man with the hat is Mr. Tim Mooney. He'll be engineering, co-producing and playing drums on the thing.  More soon...

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Photo Credit - Jesse Kipp

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