The distance between a sure bet and a Mystery is adventure fueled by restlessness. Chiefly known as co-founder of decade-long roots/Americana band Screen Door Porch, multi-instrumentalist, songwriter, vocalist and producer Aaron Davis works the lesser-worn corners of the American musical fabric through an unconventional lens. Slide banjo? Detuned guitar made of metal and a cigar stomp box? You bet. From “searing slide guitar” (Country Weekly) echoing southern blues à la Duane Allman, with “a particularly interesting approach that mixes poetry, groove and roughness” (Lonestar Time) to a patchwork of fingerstyle folk and roots, pensive alt-country, gypsy grass banjo, and improvisational 70s rock, Davis has been described as a “truly phenomenal songwriter” (Americana UK).
Nine releases and four bands into an independent recording career, the Wyoming-based/Kentucky-bred songwriter offers his second solo album, The Meander [voted #4 Album of the Year on Wyoming Public Radio]. 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. Two singles from the album—”The Wolves” and “Same Cloth”—are official selections for Wyoming Arts Council’s 2019 Roadtrip Playlist on Spotify. The Meander 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, Aaron Davis & the Mystery Machine—drummer Jason Baggett and 3-part harmony via bassist David Bundy and pianist/organist/trombonist/tubist Mike Patton. Aaron also performs as a storytelling, one-man-band solo act on acoustic guitar, resonator guitar, banjo, lap steel, harmonica, and cigar box percussion.
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 several ‘best of’ lists and 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.”
The New York Times noted Screen Door Porch’s “entrepreneurial gumption in touring the Wyoming way,” regarding producing and performing with the WYOmericana Caravan Tour, “a traveling concert circus” that has made waves across the Mountain West for six years (2013-2017, 2020). The award-winning documentary WYOMERICANA depicts the inaugural tour in 2014, which unites and exposes original acts in Wyoming. Screen Door Porch’s contributions from both a musical perspective and as proponents of the Wyoming musical community were recognized by state government, which selected the band to be ambassadors to the state’s music scene through a national ad campaign and short film.
As a solo artist, Davis’s songs have landed in various projects including films, commercials, podcasts, and network television. 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 just finished up a busy year on the road, performing at several festivals and theaters including Evanston Bluegrass Festival, The WHAT Festival, Mansface Music Festival, Wind River Brewfest (headline set), JacksonHoleLive (supporting Shinyribs), Lander Live (supporting Elizabeth Cook), Buffalo Concert Series (headline set), and Teton Valley Music on Main. Treefort Music Fest is on deck for 2020.
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.