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      Joshua Davis in Decatur

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      November 24, 2019

      Sunday   6:00 PM

      515-B N. McDonough Street
      Decatur, Georgia 30030

      Joshua Davis

      Speaking or singing, the voice of Joshua Davis is a disarming instrument: weathered and warm, as capable of conjuring confessional intimacy on a global stage as it is of making a small room, well off the beaten path, resonate with startling urgency and power. Couple it with an earnest poetic sensibility, a boundless work ethic, and an uncanny gift for connecting with audiences spanning generations, and its no wonder that Davis is now poised at the brink of the sort of widespread recognition that typically passes right over such a humble troubadour. Over the past fifteen years, Michigan-based Davis has honed an impressive range of skills songwriter, bandleader, guitarist, and vocalist among them in the most honest possible fashion: night after night, song after song, show after show Davis simply delivered every performance as though his life depended on it. Investing himself in the American musical diaspora, he has explored the common thread connecting folk, blues, jazz, ragtime, and country forms discovering his personal perspective as a composer in the process. My sound is rooted in the folk tradition, Davis explains, but its not folk music. Terms like Americana, roots rock, and heartland rock come up, but theres so much more to it than that. Im not a purist: I play with that American folk lineage, I play with those metaphors. His versatility and ravenous musical curiosity has resulted in a divergent output, from his five albums with roots rock outfit Steppin In It to the vintage swing styles documented on the album he recorded with Shout Sister Shout. But Daviss sensibility shines brightest on his trio of solo albums, each a thoughtful dispatch on life, love, change, and growth, culminating with 2013s A Miracle of Birds which was inspired by a life-changing voyage to Middle East in the Palestinian West Bank to raise money and awareness for fair-trade olive farming communities in Palestines West Bank. Contrasting his identity as an American Jew with the struggles he observed in the Middle East, Davis crafted a suite of songs that works not only as a traditional album, but as a provocative and dynamic concert program that he presented in schools, clubs, and theaters. Following the release of A Miracle of Birds, Davis could well have continued his journeyman existence, gradually growing his audience one show at a time as he and his talented bandmates tirelessly careen up and down the highways between home and the next gig. Instead, what happened next was an unlikely convergence of a contemporary pop phenomenon and his decidedly old-school methodology, while handily proving the old adage that there is no such thing as a genuine overnight sensation. Davis almost didnt audition when the popular NBC musical showcase The Voice called. Id never even seen the show. Looking at music in a competitive way is totally against the way I was raised, he says. Collaboration is what its about. Music brings people together. So the competitive aspect of it was really foreign to be judged like that. From his first performance, Davis triumphed, and over the course of the season, his rootsy, sincere approach emerged as a refreshing alternative and propelled him all the way to finals. Looking back, it was good to be under the gun for a little bit, to look closely at the way I perform, he recalls. I didnt think of myself as a singer before this happened I thought of myself as a songwriter first. My goal throughout the whole surreal experience was to just maintain the respect and integrity that Ive staked my career on so far. The amount of support I received from new and old fans has been mind-blowing. A lot of people were just happy that the kind of stuff I do reached the mainstream, and that I actually got an original piece of music [his stirring The Workingmans Hymn] on the show. The unexpected gift of an instant national audience has given Davis a rare, once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and he is careful when considering its implications and possibilities. The people who have been with me for the past fifteen years understand this wide scope of American music that influences everything I do, he says. I want to show my new listeners this range which wasnt always on display on the show. The combination of his recent success and his long journey to get there is inspiring a new batch of songs, still in their larval form, as Davis puts it. But hes still doing things as he always have: Walking into the studio with his guitar, his songs, and his band, counting off, and rolling tape taking the performance live off the floor, with little post-production sweetening. More than anything else, its really important to me to show people that you dont need to rely on studio tricks and cheats to make a great album, he says. The music I love is raw and organic and its perfectly flawed. If more people are listening, Id like that to be highlighted a little bit more. Thats where I see my place: Playing music thats a little more raw, thats a little more organic, that lives and breaths. And also thats timeless in some way. More than ever, Davis concludes, I want to put everything I can into the music I write and the music I make. Im proud of what Ive done in the past, but this has made me look at my life and my work differently. And what it comes down to is the people around me: The people Ive met, the people who supported me from the beginning and during The Voice the people Ive been around, the people Ive been exposed to, the support, the community that surrounded me, my family the way they sacrificed and helped set me up. I want to make the most of this.

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