The distance between a sure bet and a Mystery is adventure fueled by restlessness. Multi-instrumentalist and vocalist Aaron Davis works the lesser-worn corners of the American musical fabric through an unconventional lens. Slide banjo? Detuned guitar made of metal and an electric cigar box? You bet. From “searing slide guitar” (Country Weekly) in the country-blues vein à la Duane Allman with “a particularly interesting approach that mixes poetry, groove and roughness” (Lonestar Time) to a patchwork of fingerstyle folk, gypsy grass, gritty Americana and soulful roots-rock, Davis has been described as a “truly phenomenal songwriter” (About.com).
Nine releases and four bands into an independent recording career, the Wyoming-based/Kentucky-bred songwriter offers his 2nd solo album, The Meander [June 2019]. Far from a solitary project, the set showcases over a dozen regional musicians that Davis has toured and collaborated with, including Wyoming folk hero Jalan Crossland. The set billows and breathes with both minimalist compositions and ensemble intricacy, the latter fluidity being at the hands of the fervent texture experts of his touring brotherhood, The Mystery Machine—drummer Jason Baggett and 3-part harmony via bassist David Bundy and piano/organ/synth man Mike Patton.
Additional instrumentation on The Meander includes fiddle, cello, the nuanced percussion of spook saw and congas, and doses of slide guitar, lap steel and pedal steel via Davis. Perhaps it’s the varying combinations of vocal harmony that keep the ear most curious with seven different harmony singers, making for rich and varied two and three-part arrangements.
Along with his songstress wife Seadar Rose, Davis is chiefly known as co-founder of decade-long Americana band Screen Door Porch, which toured nationally and became a household name in the region before announcing a hiatus in 2017. The group released four albums, including ‘Album of the Year’ honors on Wyoming Public Radio while reaching an international audience via numerous ‘best of’ lists while hovering in the Top 25 of the EuroAmericana radio chart. According to Vanguard Records executive and critic Bill Bentley, “Screen Door Porch transformed roots music into something much larger, a down home good time vibe that induces sonic hypnosis.”
As a solo artist with a producer’s eye for detail, Davis’s songs have landed in various projects including films, commercials, and network television. The New York Times even noted Davis’s “entrepreneurial gumption in touring the Wyoming way,” regarding co-producing and performing with the WYOmericana Caravan Tour, “a traveling concert circus” that that made waves across the Mountain West. The award-winning documentary WYOMERICANA depicts the inaugural tour in 2014, which unites and exposes original acts in Wyoming.
The aforementioned projects have allowed Davis to share bills with some of his heroes—Wilco, Willie Nelson, Jason Isbell & the 400 Unit, Buddy Guy, Sam Bush, Brian Wilson, Steve Earle, Hayes Carll, Nicki Bluhm, Justin Townes Earle, Grace Potter, and James McMurtry. This has also led to festival, theater and club stages across the country as well as private events and the occasional wedding around Jackson Hole when he’s knee-deep in a river wielding a fly rod.
Aaron Davis & the Mystery Machine will be on the open road this summer, performing at several festivals including Evanston Bluegrass Festival, The WHAT Festival, Mansface Music Festival, Wind River Brewfest, JacksonHoleLive (supporting Shinyribs), Buffalo Concert Series, and Music on Main (Victor).
Davis is also a freelance writer, photographer, studio engineer/producer at Three Hearted Recording Studio, founder of juke joint blues and alt-country band Boondocks, and curator/founder of the intimate concert series Songwriter’s Alley.
As a freelance writer and photographer—currently with Jackson Hole Buckrail and formerly as the weekly music columnist for Planet Jackson Hole (2005-2017)—Aaron 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, Wayne Coyne of Flaming Lips, Robert Cray, John Prine, Lyle Lovett, Buddy Guy, Ruthie Foster, Grace Potter, Mark Farina, and scores of colorful local bands. In addition to writing about music, Aaron has contributed several cover stories, news pieces, travel narratives, and photo essays as well as reviews of albums, concerts and movies. Jackson Hole Review, The Oregonian, The Business Journal, Jambase.com, Libertarian Party News, The Statesman Journal, and Cascade Policy Institute have also published his pieces.