Mikaela Davis’ demeanor is a devious delight full of rootsy sparkle and stars.
Davis and her band, Southern Star, have been crisscrossing the map, bringing along with them a touch of elegance. It lies in her voice, it lies in her handling of the harp. It lays in the wake of its own heartache.
Recently… today, actually… Relix magazine released a live-in-the-studio double album for the band in its Relix Sessions Series, pressed on vinyl. Act now, and get yours. They only printed 500.
“We’re the fourth installment,” Davis says. “They did one for Goose, one for Keller Williams, one for Circles around the Sun.
“We did this session just about a year ago. We had no idea they were planning on releasing it on vinyl. We just figured we were just doing a live stream because we were still right in the middle of the pandemic.”
The band had a long-overdue blast.
“We had a lot of fun just playing together,” Davis says. “We hadn’t been together in a year.”
So, the material recorded that day, besides the Relix sessions, is going to another album that has Davis waxing coy. She won’t say what the GOT-DAMN title is gonna be or when it drops.
At some point this year, the band will have a new record that’s finished and ready to go. Seven of the songs are on the Relix record already, so you can get them that way, if you can dig it.
Davis is flawlessly beautiful as she exudes steam heat from the bandstand centered behind her harp–46 strings of glistening beauty.
“I’m really proud of this project,” she says. “We’re all really invested in the project. It feels like a band. We’re all involved in the writing process. We produced it ourselves, cutting some of the tracks live at Old Soul Studios in Catskill, New York.”
Then the band brought it to Tarbox Road Studios near Fredonia.
“I’m extremely happy,” Davis says. “It’s the first time we’ve done a record our way exactly how we want to do it. You know, breathing down my neck telling me how I should sound. It sounds really like the first real Mikaela Davis Record—not the first, but it feels like the best one.
“Playing music with my friends is one of the greatest feelings on the earth.”
And she loves her cats. And her harp, despite the impending tragedy.
“The way they make my kind of harp, over time the neck gets warped. My harp is going to be unplayable in the next five or 10 years. I had a breakdown. I do love her. She’s been good to me.”
Mikaela Davis and Southern Star play Three Heads Distillery, 186 Atlantic Ave., Friday, May 6, 7 p.m., $20.
“Revolution: The Music of the Beatles”
I made my way to Kodak Hall at Eastman Theatre last week for some classic long-hair music. Specifically, the Beatles—arranged, analyzed and opened up before our very eyes. If you take anything from the band’s canon, it holds up as well as anything that usually graces this stage. The Beatles couldn’t write a bad song if they tried.
Maestro Jeff Tyzik led the RPO with a crack of the baton and off they went. It was through the Beatles’ canon, swapping out the swirling of the strings and the blast of the brass, note-for-note precision with intricate turns of phrase both melodically and rhythmically. That put the Fab Four’s music and its fans’ head in a bag. Tyzik’s genius handled the arrangements both vintage and sophisticated, sometimes crossing paths at the same time. For example, he took the sing-along portion of “Hey Jude” and countered it with a descending phrase that left those in the audience spellbound. It was delicate and captivating. Some didn’t know it was happening; those who did were knocked out.
You see, it’s hard to take the Beatles out of the Beatles. They’re a household, worldwide name that sometimes gets taken for granted and they seem out of place without performing in person. Yeah, we know that ain’t gonna happen. But joining vocalists and guests Colin Smith, Paul Loren and Rick Brantley proved that the Beatles’ music goes far and above the actual band itself, especially in the hands of the RPO.
The way you tackle a song is in the tools you choose, right? Not necessarily.
Greg Townson switches flawlessly between a Les Paul and a willowy blonde Telecaster when he does his sporadically plugged Friday night happy hour around Rochester. When he’s not chasing life on the highway, Townson is a strummer and crooner, who delivers perfect salacious pitter patter.
He plays his electric guitars as acoustic guitars, which allows his beautiful songs to shimmer and shine. It’s a casual brushing of talented heartbeats into heartfelt lyrics that’ll resonate and rattle in your head indefinitely. Townson’s done this in front of 50,000 Mexicans in a bullfighting arena in Mexico City, and 15 souls at any number of dive bars around town. Ole!
Here’s a comprehensive list of live shows in and around Rochester: Get Your Gig On
Frank De Blase is Rochester Beacon music writer. The Beacon welcomes comments from readers who adhere to our comment policy including use of their full, real name.