Multi-instrumentalist Robin Davis is a musician whose string-bending talent has aided scores of bands in town.
He’s 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. He’s 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.
He’s gone to Nashville a handful of times only to return to make music here, and for the last few years he’s played mandolin and fiddle in Waiting on Trial, the local bluegrass band that’s about to drop its sophomore release that was recorded with engineer Doug Eagle at Eagle Sound. And he’s also a member of the Bear Handed Killers.
Yet it wasn’t 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. “I’ve played enough of mandolin, fiddle, banjo and upright bass that I have a level of proficiency on them, but I’m 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, I’ve 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.”
It’s 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. There’s opportunity for other musicians to play with Davis, who remains one of the most respected musicians in Colorado’s nationally recognized and growing acoustic music scene.
“A changing lineup will be an intentional thing. I’m a musician for life, and over the years I’m sure I will play with lots of different musicians, but I know I’ll always want a band, and I’ll always want a certain amount of artistic control over what I do musically,” Davis said. “That’s 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.