Kevin Davies is done with hermitage and back with new songs tonite
As I walked into the Sunday afternoon open stage hosted by Nicola Vaughan at Hirut this past weekend, I scurried faster with anticipation, as I could hear a singer’s voice that tweaked memories confidently delivering a catchy Pop tune that had a familiar ring but which I couldn’t quite place. I couldn’t recall who the performer was, but I knew that I knew him, because the voice evoked memories of pleasant past experiences hearing interesting tunes.
Even as I walked past the stage, turning to see who this impressive artist was, I still couldn’t figure out who it could be. The voice and body language set off memory bells, as did the style of the music. But the visage of this bearded, shaggy-haired fellow with the very resonant vocals did not accord with anyone whose name I could immediately evoke.
Then he did a song I that definitely recognized and it hit me: it was Kevin Davies!
At one time, until around last Autumn, Pop songwriter Davies was near ubiquitous on East TO’s live music scene. For over a year he ran a weekly open stage in a scruffy but lively little bar on Danforth Ave. and was a frequent participant at the many other open stages and jams that proliferate in this part of town, including the ones I was running.
In fact I first met Kevin at a jam night, three years ago this Spring, when he was the lone troubadour doing a solo performance as part of a jam night hosted by an R&B band. He was getting short shrift in terms of presentation, with no sound equalization and lousy placement of the microphone –not to mention no introduction of any kind. But his songs, catchy and yet full of lyrical sophistication and a lot of substance, still stood out from what was going on around him.
Kevin has a knack for both the catchy phrase and the musical hook. His lyrical cleverness and pith excels on tunes about love (“She’s Got A Ring Now I Want Mine”, “Just For Tonight”) and politics (“Paradigm Shift”) –and sometimes about both in the same song, such as in “Republican Girls”.
I immediately encouraged him to come out to my open stage and suggested others he might try out, and for more than two years afterwards there was hardly a week in which I didn’t see him perform at least once somewhere.
Last fall, however, after his open stage was cancelled, Kevin seemed to suddenly disappear from the scene. A few times it occurred to me to get in touch and find out why, but between my own life challenges and a sense of decorum, I decided to let it be and hope to see him again soon.
On Sunday he briefly filled me in, explaining that he’d had some financial preoccupations that left him little time or money for going out to non-paying gigs, but that he’d used the free time he did have to also write nearly two dozen new songs, which must bring his catalogue up to several dozen or maybe over a hundred by now. He has some tunes up on a Reverbnation site but this very talented multi-disciplinary artist (he also designs video games, writes for magazines and draws fantasy tableaux) needs to put out an album soon.
During his hermit phase he also grew the beard and, on this day at least, had let his hair fly free, giving him a sort of wild-bushman look that actually gives him a lot more presence than the clean-cut frat-boy image that he’d always projected in the past.
He tells me he’ll be out to the kickoff for my new open stage at King’s Belly (Donlands and O’Connor) this Saturday night, May 10, and in fact he’s also agreed to fill in for me as host on May 17 –when I’ll be away attending my lovely daughter’s wedding!
But tonight Kevin is in the spotlight as a songwriter, doing a 10 p.m. feature set at another open mic, Jody Ferrer’s 9-1 event at Groove Bar at 1952 Danforth Ave. on the second block west of Woodbine. I told you about this event last week and I ended up attending the show that night and was by and large fairly impressed. It started very slowly but players began arriving after 11 and there was a very chummy, fun vibe in the air that was much enhanced by Jody’s assistant, the lovely Jewel Lea Everatt, and by a setup that includes a backdrop, a bit of lighting, a percussion kit and a couple of guitars available (though the big tv next to the stage has to go OFF!). The styles varied all the way from my Country Blues through the feature’s indie Pop to some drum’n’bass licks and R&B/Hip Hop shuffles. Beer is very reasonably priced —though the selection, particularly in the taps is quite limited— but the food is decent and also affordable and the place is clean and pretty relaxed.
-Gary 17, www.torontomoon.ca
Listings preceded by an asterisk (*) are repeating weekly events. Admission prices followed by a slash and minus (/-) after the amount indicates door charge with availability of cheaper rates for some purchases. /+ indicates stated price is minimum.
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CMW = Canadian Music Week show; wristband/entrance fee
*5-8> Piano Jazz @ Sauce, 1376 Danforth Ave., TO East ~Jazz
5-8> Howard Willett Blues Duo @ Gate 403, 403 Roncesvalles Ave., TO West ~Blues
5-close> Rising Rhythm @ The Rex, 194 Queen St. W., TO ~Jazz
6> Noel Johnson @ Cameron House (front), 408 Queen St. W., TO
*6:30-11> The Woodshed jam with Don Niblett & Frank Zochodne @ Simcoe Blues & Jazz, 926 Simcoe St. N., Oshawa
7> Karaoke with host Rob MacArthur @ Ajax Legion (RCL 322), 112 Hunt St., Ajax
7:30-9:30> Liane Fainsinger @ Relish, 2152 Danforth Ave. TO East ~Jazz/Pop
7:30> Collette Savard @ Tranzac Club (Southern Cross), 292 Brunswick St., TO ~indie Pop
7:30-10> open mic with hosts North Of Queen @ Emmanuel Howard Park United Church, 214 Wright Ave., TO West; $2
*8-12> Phil & John Show feat. Phil Naro @ The Harp, 55 Lakeshore Rd. E., Port Credit ~Pop Rock
*8> David Baxter & Friends @ Dora Keogh, 141 Danforth Ave., TO East ~Rootsy Pop/Blues
8-2> CMW: Soul Kisser; Sarantos Mlogia; The Party On High Street; Motion Grove; David Hodges & The Honest Famiy; Anomalie @ The Painted Lady, 218 Ossington Ave., TO West ~indie
8-3> CMW: The Landed; SoHo Ghetto; Figaro; The Blancos; Sons et al; Slaughter Beach; Lightmares @ Dakota Tavern, 249 Ossington Ave., TO West
8-12> Sean Pinchin @ Monarchs Pub in Eaton Chelsea Hotel, 33 Gerrard St. W., TO ~Roots-Blues
*8> open stage with host John Marlatt @ Moonshine Café, 137 Kerr St., Oakville; $5
*8:30-12:30> open jam with Frank Wilks & The Bell Bootz @ The Duke Live, 1225 Queen St. E., TO East
8:30> Lynn Glazer combo @ Hugh’s Room, 2261 Dundas St. W., TO West ~cabaret;; $20
*8:30> Django Jam @ Dominion On Queen, 500 Queen St. E., TO ~Django Jazz
8:30> Heather Dale & S.J. Tucker @ Free Times Café, 320 College St., TO ~Celtic Folk Rock; $15
**9> open mic with host Jody Ferrer & 10 p.m. feature by Kevin Davies @ Groove Bar, 1952 Danforth Ave., TO East
9> Danny Marks & Alec Fraser Blues Night @ Gate 403, 403 Roncesvalles Ave., TO West ~Blues
*9> open mic with host Nikki Lemonbeat @ Kitch, 229 Geary Ave., TO West
9> Massey Harris @ The Local, 396 Roncesvalles Ave., TO West ~songwriter
9> open stage with Pete Vance; Earthbound Trio @ The Red Garnet, 231 Hunter St. W., Peterborough
*9:30> karaoke with The English Rose & The Mad Scotsman @ The Fossil & Haggis, 790 Military Trail, Scarborough
*9:30> Peter Verity @ Black Swan, 154 Danforth Ave., TO East ~Folk Roots
*9:30-12> open stage hosted by Jennifer Brewer @ The Old Nick, 123 Danforth Ave., TO East
*9:30> jam with Derek Downham @ Axis, 3048 Dundas St. W., TO West ~eclectic
9:30> Colin Amey @ The Corral, 433 Simcoe St. S., Oshawa ~Country Rock
*10-2> The Sattalites @ Orbit Room, 580 College St., TO ~orig. & cover Reggae/Funk
10> Peripheral Vision @ Tranzac Club (Southern Cross), 292 Brunswick St., TO ~Jazz
10> Run With The Kittens @ Cameron House (front), 408 Queen St. W., TO ~indie Pop
*10-11> Nik Beat’s Howl radio show @ CIUT 89.5 FM, ~spoken word & music
*10-2> Marshall Dane Trio @ Roc’n Doc’s, 105 Lakeshore Rd. E., Port Credit ~New Country/Pop
8> CMW: Texas King; Julian Taylor Band (9-9:45); Barbudos; Clumsy; Lenny & The Bullfighters; The Little Brothers; Radio Free Universe @ The Hideout, 484 Queen St. W., TO ~indie Rock
*10:30> blueVenus with Luke Roberts @ Castro’s, 2116 Queen St. E.. TO East ~original Pop
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