Davisson Brothers Band Semi Acoustic Show
|Shows at the Purple Fiddle|
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For genre blurring, mountain-rock band, The Davisson Brothers, “home” is more than the
place they’re from. It’s a force that shapes everything they do. A band born of a truly unique
American tradition, they are the physical and sonic embodiment of their home state, West
Virginia, and their third album – Home Is Where the Heart Is – echoes with its sound.
Fiercely independent. Proudly self-sufficient. Non-conforming. Adventurous, open-minded,
and 100-percent original. Both the band and their album are a tribute to the culture that
guides their lives.
“We like to think we’re still evolving and going new places, but most importantly, we represent
our family, our home state,” says lead guitarist Chris Davisson. “We come from somewhere,
and that means the most to us. Our heritage and our culture, our history, we like to represent
that the best we can, and that’s on our mind at all times. We are loyal to where we come from,
and I think that resonates in our music.”
“There’s a lot of years and a lot of time captured in this record,” lead singer Donnie Davisson
agrees. “West Virginia has always had our heart. No matter how crazy the world is, or where
we travel, it’s home.”
For longtime fans of these under-the-radar heroes, that statement is nothing new. Founded by
Chris and Donnie in Clarksburg, West Virginia, the band has been this way their whole career,
built brick-by-brick into one of the most successful independent acts in the world.
Also featuring nephew Gerrod Bee on bass and life-long family friend Aaron Regester on
drums, the band stems from a time-honored family tradition of music. The brothers learned to
play the Appalachian way, in community picking circles led by their father and uncle – who in
turn learned from their elders … often picking up songs second hand from workers in the
surrounding coal mines. Their independent streak started there, since with little access to
recorded music, the locals recreated songs as best they could – often getting lyrics wrong, but
never missing a song’s essential vibe.
Through childhood, Chris and Donnie’s father had a country band, bringing them along to
shows all around the region. But by the time they were old enough to strike out on their own,
the brothers wanted to create something unique. Starting in 2006, they recorded two
homegrown albums, were celebrated as a Highway Find on Sirius XM, charted on country
radio with “Foot Stompin’” and scored a hit song in Australia with rowdy roadhouse rock of
“Po’ Boyz.” But they really cemented their legacy on stage.
With Donnie’s rough-hewn vocal, rocky and weathered as an ancient limestone outcrop, and
Chris’ versatile acoustic-slide guitar, the Davisson’s one-of-a-kind sound was just at home on
the Jam Band/Bluegrass circuit as it was alongside mainstream country’s biggest acts. Fans
of Derek Trucks, Leftover Salmon, Phish, The Del McCoury Band and Gov’t Mule all flocked
to the band, and at the same time, they rocked crowds of over 20,000 at CMC Rocks or the
Carolina Country Fest.
“There’s not a lot of country acts that can pull that off,” Chris says. “It’s just staying authentic
to ourselves. It’s a fight sometimes, but we kinda just live and breathe our lyrics, our music
and everything we do. It’s us in that moment.”
“That's the magic of The Davisson Brothers,” Donnie adds. “It isn’t a genre. It’s hard to
describe to people. Of course I know what a country song is, what a pop song or a bluegrass
song is, and Davisson Brothers music touches on all of them.”
All of them, and more. To speak with the brothers, they admit to feeling inspired equally by
country, rock, traditional Appalachian music and American pop … but perhaps even more by
the people and culture they know. Isolated but happy, they tell the story of an old woman who
runs a bait-and-tackle shop on their favorite trout river, 40 miles from the nearest town –
which she has visited maybe four times in her life.
“I’m influenced by her just as much as the guys who made those Allman Brothers records in
the ‘70s, and the new artists today,” Chris says. “It’s not just music we’re trying to capture, it’s
a whole lifestyle.”
Home Is Where the Heart Is does just that, pulling 12 tracks straight from the Davisson
Brothers’ world and wrapping them in their most authentic sound to date. Created like a
declaration of musical independence, a national anthem for the Appalachian way of life, it’s
the masterpiece the band has worked toward their whole career – and after earning the
respect of peers, it wasn’t done alone.
Chris and Donnie enlisted big names Brent Cobb and David “Ferg” Ferguson to produce, and
although the album was recorded by the band themselves, icons like Tim O’Brien, Rob
McCoury, Stewart Duncan, Leftover Salmon’s Vince Herman, Ronnie Bowman, Kyle Tuttle,
Lindsay Lou and more are featured.
Then there was the songwriting, which put trusted Music City tunesmiths like Wyatt Durrette,
Rob Snyder, Channing Wilson and Adam Hood in the same room as “the grandpa of jam
bands” (Herman), “the world champion banjo player” (Tuttle) and more.
“My first thought was take some of our writer friends from Nashville, and get them out of
Nashville,” Chris explains. “I wanted to put them together with some of our Jam
Band/Bluegrass buddies and do something that’s never been done.
“We ended up in South Carolina at a lodge, and it was a little nervous for me to see how this
would go, but it was magic,” Chris continues. “The country guys had never been in a
bluegrass jam circle, and I’ve got the best mandolin guys, the best banjo guys, and here’s this
country writer just soaking it all in for a week. By the last two days, these songs just started
By the end, the Davisson’s had nearly 100 songs to choose from, with Cobb and Ferguson
(famous as Johnny Cash’s favored engineer) to guide the album’s creation. Setting up shop in
Nashville’s famous Cowboy Arms Hotel And Recording Spa, they immediately recognized the
“home” theme, and wisely aimed to distill the Davisson Brothers sound down to its essential
ingredients, something as pure and potent as mountain moonshine – and just as transparent.
“What makes me more proud of this album than anything is the way it happened,” Chris says.
“It wasn’t something somebody put on paper in a conference room. Between Brent’s vision for
a song’s vibe, and David’s ability to capture them so well, this is basically the album we’ve
been trying to accomplish our whole career.”
“We did that big circle,” Donnie says of their organic evolution. “The last few tracks we
released – “Jesse James,” “Po’ Boyz” – you could hear that real big Davisson Brothers sound.
But for us, two acoustic guitars is where it all started.
“It was just real and raw,” he goes on. “I’m in love with this record. I feel like we finally
captured what the Davisson Brothers are trying to do.”
With the first notes of the album opening “Home,” it all makes sense. A lonesome fiddle pulls
the listener back in time, back 100 years or more to the front porch of a deep-hollow
homestead, before harmony vocals tell a tale of chasing dreams, and true purpose.
Simultaneously the easiest and hardest song he ever wrote, Chris agonized over every lived-
in word for months before Wilson and Snyder helped finish the euphoric chorus.
“I was so into this song because I knew every word and guitar lick meant so much, and I knew
if I could get what I was thinking down on paper, this could be a historic song for us,” Chris
says. “It’s our legacy. I want to leave something for my nephews coming up behind us, I want
to show them the importance of being honest with your music, and staying true to who you
are. Don’t listen to anybody, you be yourself. Nobody gets that, but the more we mature, the
more hardcore I get on it.”
Tracks like “Mountain High” capture the brothers’ pride in their way of life, wrapping it in rootsy
gospel funk. “Wild and Wonderful” sways with a heartland-rocking breeze. “Eastern Kentucky”
gets down and dirty in the muddy-river blues. The golden era of country shines on the slow-
and-steady “John Deere Tractor,” while “I’m Good With It” captures the life-is-good spirit of
their Jam Band brethren. And with the soulful “Appalachian Breeze,” the brothers find their
way to peace of mind, no matter how far they roam.
“After they hear it, I want folks to say ‘Man, that’s real. Those guys are singing and playing
every note and they lived those songs,’” Donnie says. “I want people to know what we put out
is what we are.”
After Home Is Where the Heart Is, that will never be in question again – if it ever was to begin
with. Standing apart even from their peers, The Davisson Brothers and their music are almost
one and the same. Authentic, original, and proudly untamed. Just like their West Virginia
“We’re not trying to be anything we’re not – and we’re going to stay that way,” Chris says.
“Good times, hard times, at the end of the day this is what we’re about. Sticking together,
lifting each other up and setting a good example for the next generation.”