Filtering by Tag: john davey and the ancient urge

Living Bravely On the Edge of a Big Change

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. 

-John

The Staying or the Leaving Cup?

I watched this music lesson by Chilly Gonzales on composition for beginners on QRadio a few years ago. Among other wonderful little flashes of insight, the simple idea really struck me of pedaling on a note or one chord, then jotting down whatever melody comes to you that wheels its way around the note being played. That's what got the ball rolling on this song "Leaving Cup". Thanks Chilly, you crazy bastard. 

This was one, lyrically, that took me quite a while to finally get down. I remember singing the very beginnings of it to my friends Anthony and Erin during a recording session in Atlanta during the summer of 2014. The mystery of the line about "her" changing forms and flitting around the room kept pulling me back to the half-written song until it was finished. Of course, this wasn't the first time I played with the concept of shape shifting (here's one example and here's another), but it did reveal to me in the second half of the song what all those shape shifting songs had always been about for me. I read a book called On Truth: the Tyranny of Illusion. It was life changing. I played with a lot of the themes from there in the second half of the song. I strongly recommend the book which you can download for free. 

When I moved to Marquette, Michigan, I started this band with a couple of guys I met during the first few months I lived here. We played, wrote, and learned a bunch of songs together. "Leaving Cup" was one of the first songs I wanted us to arrange all together as a band. We ended up going out into the woods for a whole weekend and recording a bunch of demos, drinking a bunch of beers, playing Frisbee, taking saunas, cooking food, and hiking around a bit. It was a great experience. I wanted to use those live recordings up at camp as the framework for the album we were going to record in a big way later on, but some of the songs turned out so well, that I'm releasing them now. This is one of them. I think this song in particular really showed a lot of the strengths we had as a band in terms of arranging, being locked in together, the writing, and just the general feel and sound as a group. We had a really cool thing going on. Here's a little video our friend Josh put together from that weekend that I'm sort of fond of. You can hear "Leaving Cup" playing during part of it. 

Finally, the fact that my old friends Steffen Yazvac and Matt Whatley came onto this project to mix and master this song is a great joy for me. We all used to live in the same town. I've done many projects with both of them, but this is the first time we've done something all together and it feels so good. I find that as I get older, the most fruitful working relationships are ones which I've had for years that have had time to deepen and mature. 

Love you all. 

-John

Wayside Fest 2016

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. 

 

Ancient Urge

Ancient Urge

Sycamore Smith

Sycamore Smith

Secret Grief  

Secret Grief  

Yours Truly

Yours Truly

Jonny Negaunee

Jonny Negaunee

Raymond

Raymond

Sekoitus, Farm Block, Art on the Rocks (7/28/16-7/31/16)

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. 

Love ya. 

-John