Multi-instrumentalist Robin Davis is a musician whose string-bending talent has aided scores of bands in town.
Hes played mandolin for Broke Mountain, helping them win the band competition at the 2003 Rockygrass festival while taking the mandolin competition as a soloist that same year. Hes been a member of the Wayword Sons and Rock and Rye, in addition to sitting in on mandolin, fiddle and guitar in many informal jam sessions.
Hes gone to Nashville a handful of times only to return to make music here, and for the last few years hes played mandolin and fiddle in Waiting on Trial, the local bluegrass band thats about to drop its sophomore release that was recorded with engineer Doug Eagle at Eagle Sound. And hes also a member of the Bear Handed Killers.
Yet it wasnt until recently that he started focusing on having his own band. Leading a band certainly puts more responsibility on the musician that is the leader. At the DIY level, which is thankfully the grass-roots level a musician like Davis works at, the band leader takes on the not-so-music-like tasks of booking shows, handling finances and the rest of the red tape that comes along with operating your business.
The Robin Davis Band will feature Davis on guitar and vocals, Hap Purcell on banjo and Jimmy Largent on bass. Largent and Davis have played more than 100 shows together as a duo. Purcell and Largent also play in the roots rock band Jack Ten High. The bluegrass trio will make their debut tonight at the Derailed Saloon.
The main point of the new band is to have a project with myself on guitar, as that is my main instrument, Davis said. Ive played enough of mandolin, fiddle, banjo and upright bass that I have a level of proficiency on them, but Im really a guitar player. Ultimately, I just love playing music, but flat-picking an acoustic guitar is what has really inspired me to do not much else with myself than practice music for the last 20-plus years. Also, Ive built my reputation among other pickers in the music scene on a national level based on my guitar playing. So, I think its time that I have this band as a vehicle for my abilities as a guitar player, singer, writer and band leader.
Its a project that could evolve. Bluegrass musicians are a proficient bunch with a vast catalog of knowledge, and you can add and take away musicians without missing a beat. Theres opportunity for other musicians to play with Davis, who remains one of the most respected musicians in Colorados nationally recognized and growing acoustic music scene.
A changing lineup will be an intentional thing. Im a musician for life, and over the years Im sure I will play with lots of different musicians, but I know Ill always want a band, and Ill always want a certain amount of artistic control over what I do musically, Davis said. Thats why I want to call it The Robin Davis Band and not some other, cooler name.
Bryant Liggett is a freelance writer and KDUR station manager. Reach him at Liggett_b@fortlewis.edu.