The distance between a sure bet and a Mystery is adventure fueled by trepidation. Work the songwriting dirt. Deploy the Machine. Expose the invention to audible minds and texture experts. Enter Aaron Davis & the Mystery Machine, the latest project of Renaissance man and award-winning songwriter Aaron Davis. Native to Kentucky and based in Jackson Hole, Wyoming since 2001, Davis is a vocalist, multi-instrumentalist, writer, photographer, studio engineer/producer at Three Hearted Recording Studio, and co-founder of decade-long Americana touring band Screen Door Porch. He’s also the founder of juke joint blues band Boondocks and curator of the concert series Songwriter’s Alley.
From “searing slide guitar” (Country Weekly) in the country-blues vein ala Duane Allman, to grooving poetic tunes that swing from fingerstyle folk-grass to gritty Americana and soulful Rock N Roll, Davis is a lover of the energy harvested from both acoustic roots and electric sounds. The “truly phenomenal songwriter” (About.com) utilizes an arsenal of instruments and alternative tunings to get his ideas across—electric/acoustic/resonator guitars, banjo, lap steel, mandolin, harmonica, and a cigar box.
What started as a casual, mostly acoustic project in 2013 has evolved into a multi-headed beast of a Mystery Machine in 2018. Across friendships, stage time and recording projects at his studio, Davis has worked with over a dozen folks from Teton County to be involved in what has become a revolving door of all-star musicians. 2018 will feature various incarnations from 4/5/6-piece bands to Duo.
Davis has released eight albums since 2005 with various projects, including four studio albums with Screen Door Porch, which also features his talented wife and songstress Seadar Rose Davis. According to The New York Times, the duo has “entrepreneurial gumption” in producing the “traveling concert circus” that is The WYOmericana Caravan. The first two Screen Door Porch albums—Screen Door Porch (2010) and The Fate & The Fruit (2012)—were internationally recognized in a combined eight “Best Albums of the Year” lists while hovering in the Top 25 of the Euro-Americana Chart and Top 30 of the Roots Music Report Roots-Rock Chart. Modern Settler (2015) represents a lyrical return to Wyoming landscapes and it’s mythical characters and was voted #1 Album of 2015 by Wyoming Public Radio listeners. Pay it Forward (2017) shows a band at their creative peak before taking an indefinite hiatus under the best of terms.
Davis operates Three Hearted Recording twelve miles south of Jackson Hole in Hoback, Wyoming. Musicians from around the region come to record full-length albums, EPs, demos and more in a countryside cabin setting. The network of talented Jackson Hole players combined with his experience working in Austin, Texas with top notch engineers and studio musicians has allowed him cultivate a natural, supportive environment for artists to thrive in their studio performances.
The aforementioned projects have allowed Davis to share the stage with some of his songwriting and guitar-slinging heroes: Wilco, Willie Nelson, Jason Isbell & the 400 Unit, Buddy Guy, Sam Bush, Grace Potter, James McMurtry, and Justin Townes Earle. This has also led him to festival, theater and club stages across the country as well as private events and the occasional wedding around Jackson Hole when he’s not on the road or knee-deep in a river wielding a fly rod.
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, 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.
“A particularly interesting approach that mixes poetry, groove and roughness.” ~Lonestar Time (Italy)
“Something new and fresh that can’t or shouldn’t be compared with anyone or anything else.” ~605 Magazine