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Feels just like home

"There was deep musicianship, and none of these people were professional”

Clinton Davis: "classical training on piano... gave me the tools to take apart other styles of music.”
  • Clinton Davis: "classical training on piano... gave me the tools to take apart other styles of music.”
  • Image by Julia McMahon

“Any antique store’s gonna have one.” Clinton Davis is referring to a ceramic whiskey jug. When he checks in with the Reader by phone, Davis has just returned from the Port Townsend Acoustic Blues Workshop and Festival, where he schooled participants in the finer arts of rural blues and how to blow the jug. Davis plays banjo, guitar, piano, and violin. He also performs in a jug band. “But short of that, any old glass bottle will do. It’s like a jug starter kit.”

Davis, 32, is from Kentucky and lives in North Park. He favors “all sorts of folk and popular music from the south, true to a style that was popular during the 1920s. I probably have to attribute being able to learn that music to my classical training on piano. I went to college for that. It gave me the tools to take apart other styles of music.”

He first heard acoustic folk-blues and such while at home. “The seeds were planted when I was a little kid. My dad played guitar. The blues were not his bag, but other guitar players around him were into it, that Travis-style of guitar playing. But it really came alive for me in college, when I was listening to old folk recordings. The music, I thought, was deeply beautiful. There was deep musicianship, and none of these people were professional.”

Past Event

Clinton Davis and Dominick Gambini

  • Saturday, September 1, 2018, 9 p.m.
  • Black Cat Bar, 4246 University Avenue, San Diego

Davis is a monthly feature at the Black Cat Bar. He played there with a group first; now he does a solo act. What to expect? “All of my instruments — banjo, fiddle, guitar. A friend of mine once found a piano in the alley. He sort of rolled it up to the venue and it’s been part of the show ever since. I’ve hosted New Orleans musicians before and when they see that piano, and the club, they say it feels just like home to them.”

Clinton Davis: Saturday, September 1, Black Cat Bar, 619-280-5834, 10 p.m., 21+, no cover (Dominick Gambini also performs)

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