Award-winning songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, vocalist, journalist, photographer, guitar instructor, audio engineer, poet and fly fisherman, Davis is versed in the creative threads of Americana. As 605 Magazine Davis put it, “something new and fresh that can’t or shouldn’t be compared with anyone or anything else.”
If creating music, writing and photography are the vehicles, the mountains and rivers in Wyoming are the fuel. Sense of place has everything to do with it. The Bowling Green, Kentucky native settled in Wyoming in 2001, planting a second set of roots. Longing for The South while being enlightened by a “go West young man” mentality has been a recurring theme in his writing. Davis splits time between the touring with Screen Door Porch, local music residencies, writing a music column for Planet Jackson Hole Weekly, and stalking trout.
“A day in the life is easy to take for granted, and living in a small tight-knit mountain town keeps me in tune,” says the Wyoming singer-songwriter. “Rivers and open spaces have become necessities for me, and that’s often translated through my work. Its important to me to connect with community, but also to disconnect and find that balance.”
A self-taught musician, Davis’s music career has an eclectic and experimental history as frontman and songwriter for several different bands over the last decade. He currently tours and records with Screen Door Porch, and plays locally with Boondocks, Aaron Davis & The Mystery Machine and solo. A prying interest in adventurous song craft and sound textures has led to a skillful development on a number of instruments. His primary toolbox includes acoustic, electric and slide guitar, lead and harmony vocals, mandolin, banjo, harmonica, a homemade Samsonite suitcase kick-drum, and on occasion, a piano, bass guitar or pedal steel.
His lyrical approach hovers in a unique space between literal and broad-stroke. Davis often provides enough detail to inspire the listener’s imagination while enabling them to develop their own interpretation.
“When you hear a Guy Clark or a John Prine song, you know exactly what they are talking about. Its stark and honest,” he told the Jackson Hole News & Guide. “Songwriters like Townes Van Zandt and Lucinda Williams can roll out powerful lyrics within a framework that also raises some question marks. I really dig that too. It’s poetic and mysterious to me—not hitting listeners over the head with the obvious while drawing them in with literal phrases. I relate to both of these styles.”
Best Musician/Silver: Planet JH Weekly‘s Best of Jackson Hole Reader’s poll 2013
Best Musician/Bronze: Planet JH Weekly’s Best of Jackson Hole Reader’s poll 2012
Screen Door Porch—Davis’s soulful Americana/Roots-Rock/Country-Blues project with songstress Seadar Rose has gained international attention. Screen Door Porch has been likened to “Gillian Welch meets The Band, with Ryan Adams and Bonnie Raitt hanging out backstage” (605 Magazine). The core female/male singer-songwriter duo of Seadar Rose & Aaron Davis thrive in a space that houses colorable harmonies, a diverse bag of acoustic & electric instrumentation, and have “a sort of Lennon/McCartney arrangement and get it right every time” (Americana UK). SDP’s two studio albums—Screen Door Porch (2010) and The Fate & The Fruit (2012)—were internationally recognized in a combined seven “Best Albums of the Year” lists, and hovered in the Top 25 of the Euro-Americana Chart (the first Wyoming band to do so) and Top 30 of the Roots Music Report Roots-Rock Chart.
In summer of 2013, Screen Door Porch founded and produced the WYOmericana Caravan Tour. SDP was praised in The New York Times for their “entrepreneurial gumption” in spearheading “the hardscrabble economics of the WYOmericana Caravan Tour, a traveling concert circus.” Soon after, they become the first ever Wyoming band to record a session at the esteemed Daytrotter studio.
As a QUARTET, Screen Door Porch leaves little behind with the kitchen sink—female/male lead & harmony vocals, acoustic/electric/slide guitars, banjo, mandolin, fretless bass, drums, Wyoming kazoogle and harmonica. When it’s just the Duo of Davis/Rose, the homemade Samsonite suitcase kick-drum gets staged sans bassist and drummer, and the songlist expands into further American roots territory. Just in the last few years, the Davis and SDP have shared bills with Wilco, Willie Nelson, Steve Earle, Jason Isbell & the 400 Unit, Sam Bush, Yonder Mountain String Band, James McMurtry, Justin Townes Earle, The Band of Heathens, and performed at dozens of festivals including South by Southwest, Americana Music Festival (backing Jim Avett), Sawtooth Music Festival, Beartrap Summer Festival, Oyster Ridge Music Fest, Summerfest Livingston and Magic City Blues Fest.
The Fate & The Fruit was voted #2 Album of 2012 by Wyoming Public Radio listeners! SDP was also named in the BEST LOCAL BAND and BEST LOCAL ALBUM OF THE YEAR categories in Planet Jackson Hole Weekly’s Best of 2013 Reader’s Poll.
Davis’s 2008 solo album, Rear View Mirror, defines a turning point in his career. The self-produced, self-engineered CD of original material reached #16 on the Roots Music Folk Radio Chart alongside Old Crow Medicine Show. The lead track “1937,” about life during the New Deal in Jackson Hole, earned runner-up honors at the Dreams Acres Music Festival Songwriter Contest. While Davis played many of the instruments on the release, contributions from talent like bassist Bill Plummer (The Rolling Stones, Tom Waits) and mandolinist Ben Winship (Loose Ties, Brother Mule) molded a vibe that caught the attention of Americana lovers. Songs were also paired with Jack Johnson and Brett Dennen tunes for the television series Road Trip Nation.
A deeper look into his discography includes a live release with alt-country-blues band Boondocks, Live at the Silver Dollar (2007), soul-funk-jazz sextet Global Review’s Transcend (2006), and an out-of-print EP, Livin’ (2002). For bootlegs of his college and post-college bands—Grilled Cheese and Furthermore—you’ll have to dig much deeper! All of his releases are available from his self-managed store, CDBaby.com, iTunes and most major retailers.
In the spirit of supporting Wyoming singer-songwriters, he founded Songwriter’s Alley in 2008. The regional singer-songwriter series generally hosts three up-and-coming songwriters per concert and takes place within uncommon, often art-fused spaces.
For more information about guitar lessons, send him an email.
As a weekly music columnist for Planet Jackson Hole Weekly since 2005, Davis has been fortunate to interview and photograph some of the greatest artists of our time—Taj Mahal, Dr. John, Bela Fleck, Maceo Parker, Del McCoury, Michael Franti, John Perry Barlow, Mickey Hart, Warren Haynes, Robert Cray, John Prine, Lyle Lovett, Buddy Guy, Ruthie Foster, Grace Potter, and scores of colorful local bands. In addition to his column, Davis has contributed cover stories, news pieces, travel narratives, photo essays, and reviews of CDs, concerts and movies to the alternative weekly. Free issues of Planet Jackson Hole Weekly, including Aaron’s weekly column, can be downloaded at http://planetjh.com/.
Beginning in 2011, AaronDavisMusic.com not only became a source for Davis’s musical endeavors outside of Screen Door Porch, but also the main thoroughfare for Jackson Hole Music Blog.
His pieces have also appeared in Jackson Hole Review, The Oregonian, The Business Journal, Jambase.com, Libertarian Party News, The Statesman Journal, and Cascade Policy Institute.