Last weekend I drove over to Ontanogan, Michigan to participate in the Porcupine Mountains Music Festival located in the state park up there. Peg Carrothers of The Mud Creek Warblers pulled some strings and got me a slot on the Busking Stage on Saturday afternoon. It was well attended and I was well-received. I met a lot of good people that weekend and had a great time camping, swimming, and watching Fred Eaglesmith and Charlie Parr play on the main stage. 10/10 would play again.
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I'm a little late in getting to this, but a couple weeks ago, Harry South and I drove up to Calumet, Michigan to perform at the Red Jacket Jamboree at the Historic Calumet Theater. Harry was part of the house band The Copper Cats which included Jerry Younce (guitar), Bill Carrothers (piano), Carrie Biolo (percussion), and Harry South (bass). These guys accompanied me on a few songs and it was a real thrill to hear jazz and classical players translate my songs.
Mean Mary graced the stage for the second part of the show and was a real doll.
Some highlights were standing on that beautiful old stage, watching the sunset in Copper Country with Carrie Biolo and Harry South, listening to Cole Porter songs with Harry late at night and sharing some of my favorite country songs with him. The Copper Cats did great renditions of "Istanbul (Not Constantinople)", "Don't Fence Me In", and "Up a Lazy River".
We also had a nice visit to the new Keweenaw Coffee Works the day of the show. The weather was perfect and the whole thing was awfully fun.
Below is a video of me performing the Billy Hill song "There's a Cabin in the Pines" with Jerry Younce accompanying me on guitar.
I was Mad Donna's in East Nashville about to experience Liz Cooper's band play for the first time. This kid who worked in the kitchen who I knew from an open mic at Dino's told me to come out back with him. He wanted to show me his hangout spot. We went into this alley and in between two fenced in backyards there was a little nook with a tree stump in it. This kid (let's call him "Will") Will stood on the stump and produced a glass piece which he loaded up and lit. "I like to stand on this stump. People don't think to look over this way when they drive by." I tried it. I liked it. I love standing on things. Don't ask me why.
We went back inside in a much more aware-of-details state of mind just in time to catch Liz Cooper & the Stampede roar through their set. I was very moved by it. They're a really good band and Liz's distinctive guitar playing is about to catch on in a big way really soon.
After the set, I set out walking around this neighborhood in East Nashville, as I was wont to do. I walked about a mile, just ruminating on the set I had seen, my ears ringing, feeling inspired. I ended up sitting on a bench, eating a big slice of pizza, and recording this little voice memo in my phone which I still listen to from time to time. I texted this girl Mary from Michigan who I had been crushing on pretty hard (she's my wife now) and told her about my night.
Over the next few days this song "Brave" emerged. I was listening to a lot of Buck Owens & His Bucakaroos and feeling the bracing strength of a life lived according to one's convictions. I was right on the edge of making this big decision to move to Michigan. It was another major life change in such a short amount of time. I felt I was living in fast forward almost. So many things happening all at once. When it rains, it pours.
I would practice this song while my roommate was at work, the empty apartment to myself and the cat. I would sing it real loud. My drunk neighbor met me outside one day and asked if that was one of my songs he had heard me playing the night before. I said "yeah" and he told me he had a cousin who worked at Capitol Records and he'd pass the song along to him. Classic.
Fast forward about two and a half years. I'm in Michigan, I'm engaged, I have this band The Ancient Urge and this is one of the first songs we're arranging together. I really like the way it's coming together. It felt a little bit country, a little bit rock 'n roll. In the short-lived career of that band, "Brave" became an internal and crowd favorite. It was short, punchy, rolling, and the band always knocked it out of the park. We loved playing it and recording it out at camp.
Let this tune be an injunction to find that thing you are pleased with about yourself and amplify it for the edification of yourself and the ones you love.
"I first played this song for an audience in Milwaukee at an art gallery. I had to rent a car (my old one had just finally died), take some time off work, and drive up to Wisconsin in a blizzard. The roads were really bad, but I made it finally and it ended up being a great experience. Not like Lakewood."Read More
My band and I had a great time at Wayside Fest up in Atlantic Mine, Michigan this past weekend. the weather was delicious and despite some technical delays, we had a real blast playing our set to a small but enthusiastic audience. It felt the most like a rock n roll band in comparison to all our shows yet. Furthermore, the Aurora Borealis lit up the sky in an untamed display later in the evening. I couldn't capture it on my phone, but I'll remember it forever. We're lucky to be alive.
John Davey & the Ancient Urge had a packed weekend and we're all resting up. I wish I would've got more snaps, especially from Sekoitus, but I've included some taken by Jesse DeCaire and Taylor Freeman. All the rest were taken by me.
Sekoitus Fest was so fun and we wished we could've stuck around for all of the festivities.
Farm Block was a treat. Great weather, old friends, new acquaintances, good food, fun set, some exploring of Keewenaw spots, delicious food, powerfully good bands, lots of laughs, and I had the pleasure of riding up with my treasure of a fiance with the windows down. Highlights music-wise: M. Sord, Big Dudee Roo, After Ours, The Go Rounds, Kansas Bible Company. JD&theAncientUrge also did a quick recording for The River Street Anthology. We missed Mostly Midwest.
Art on the Rocks. We drove back on Saturday night after all the fun on FarmBlock Saturday was over. We were up and at 'em early on Sunday to load gear down to Lower Harbor. Despite some heavy noise restrictions and being about a thousand yards from the nearest electrical outlet, the show went on and it ended up being a good exercise in adaptability for the band. I don't know if we'll ever play as subdued a set or two as we did at Art on the Rocks, but I loved it. Shout out to our buddy Greg Sandell who, out of the damned goodness of his heart, lent us gear, helped us load it into the festival, set stuff up, ran cords, coordinated and was supportive in every way. He is the man. His mug is that last photo in the set.
Song fans, John fans, and readers of things,
this has been a long time coming. I'm proud to unveil my new website. After years of moving my online home base from one social media platform to another, I'm happy to finally plant my flag at JohnDaveySings.com. This 'News' section will be updated regularly. I'll be informing you about developments with my band John Davey & the Ancient Urge as well as giving you the skinny on upcoming and happening recording projects, snippets of songs I'm writing, thoughts about songwriting and maybe even what some admirable friends are up to.
Thanks so much for visiting and please show yourself around. Don't forget to add your name and email to the newsletter list to get updates from there.
Live well! Come back soon!