Josh Davis will perform a solo show as a part of the Ten Pound Fiddle Concert series Friday, January 12 at 7:30 at the MSU Community Music School. To say that the last couple of years have been a whirlwind for Davis would be an understatement.
This past December, Davis lost his father Glenn on the 21st. Davis celebrated life again with the birth of his son Rueben, born December 28. December 31, Davis’ grandfather Duane passed away. All of this after a high-profile appearance on the reality TV series, The Voice, where the Michigan-based, American-Roots musician shared the stage with Sheryl Crow and Adam Levine from Maroon 5. Davis did not win, but the appearance didn’t exactly hurt his solo career either.
Although the past few months has been full of tragedy and triumph, Davis is looking forward to hitting the stage again, doing what he loves while working through the emotions.
“The past few weeks have been a roller coaster, and this will be my first show after a lot of ups and downs.” Davis said via email. “I can't say how any of this will inform the performance. I try to live in the moment on stage, and treat every show as something fresh and new, so we'll see. I've been working through a lot of grief and joy, and the skeletons of new songs are starting to appear.”
Davis was born and raised in the suburbs of Detroit, while spending his summers in Marquette. Now living with his wife and children in Traverse City, the musician has performed all over the country, but Davis primarily cut his teeth in the East Lansing/Lansing area with his group Steppin’ In It, a popular local band, and a major draw in the mid-Michigan area from their formation in the 90’s, until the group disbanded in 2014.
Davis is normally backed by either a trio, quartet, or quintet, but he isn’t afraid to go it alone.
“I love the [Ten Pound] Fiddle and have played there over the years in many different projects. This show is going to be solo, acoustic and intimate.” Davis said. “I'll be telling stories and singing tunes new and old. My wife and I lived in Lansing for many years, and the music scene in Lansing is unbelievable. I'm excited for the show.”
The Way Back Home, Davis’ fifth album under his name, was released in September of 2017. The album was recorded in Okemos by engineer Glenn Brown and produced by Steve Berlin of Los Lobos. ‘Home’ is the first release since his 2015 appearance on The Voice. On ‘Home,’ Davis is joined on the album by Steppin’ In It alumni Dominic John Davis (no relation) on bass, pianist Mike Lynch, and drummer Mike Shimmin from The Olllam. ‘Home’ draws from the folk tradition of previous trailblazers like John Prine and Pete Seeger, with influences from contemporaries like Ben Harper and Jeff Tweedy’s early music with his band Wilco.
“The Way Back Home is a very personal and cards-on-the-table album. Songs about family, love, life and death. It reaches back into my early 20’s when I started touring professionally and recounts some of my lessons learned,” Davis said. “The narrative of the album kind of formed itself from the songs that came naturally. Steve produced the record, and I learned so much from him. It was recorded mostly at Glenn Brown Productions in Okemos with a cast of incredible Michigan musicians. I'm so grateful to be surrounded by such talented, caring individuals. They make it work.”
Davis isn’t the only one excited about his return to the East Lansing area again; others are also thrilled, including the Ten Pound Fiddle’s Booking Manager Sally Potter.
“Josh has been in the Fiddle community for years,” Potter said. “We’ve been working on this show for about a year…we’re really excited he’s here.”
Potter fondly remembers the days at The Green Door, and the times Steppin’ In It performed at the Fiddle. She saw the potential in Davis then, and is unsurprised by his success as a solo artist now.
“Steppin’ In It was good, and we were all at the Green Door Shows.” Potter said. “No one was surprised by his appearance on The Voice. A year before The Voice, he was killing it as a solo artist. We decided, looking at Josh, not to do a big production. I thought, let’s just have Josh play by himself. All our shows have great sound so you will hear every note, and every word. This is going to be a great, intimate evening.”
Davis’s music has taken him all over the world, most recently to Malaysia, but he’s looking forward to sticking closer to home in 2018, while fleshing out new songs for a future album. With his appearance on The Voice now a blip on his radar, according to Davis, there were some positive experiences he experienced during his time on the show.
“The Voice was a total whirlwind, and is kind of a blur to me now, but the big takeaways were the friendships I made and the time I spent with the amazing Trelawny Rose.” Davis said. “Rose is the main vocal coach on the program. I had never had any vocal training before, and working with her was a huge eye-opener. Not only has it changed my voice for the better, but it has given me such a broader landscape to work with as a writer and performer.”
The MSU Community Music School is located at 4930 Hagadorn Road.
Tickets prices are: $20 Public, $18 Fiddle Members, and $5 Students. Tickets are available online or at the box office starting at 6:30PM.
You can learn more about Josh Davis here.