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Bringing it home with Patrick Davis

Posted: September 2, 2018 1:50 p.m.
Updated: September 4, 2018 1:00 a.m.
Photos provided by Patrick Davis/

Patrick Davis performs with the Midnight Choir, with his sister, Megan Davis Campbell, behind him.

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“Bring it home” is a familiar old phrase to musicians everywhere.

For singer/songwriter Patrick Davis, “bringing it home” takes on a special meaning as Davis and his band the Midnight Choir, along with Josh McCaa and Joal Rush, hit the stage Friday at the Town Green in downtown Camden.

Davis, who has been living in Nashville, Tenn., and touring in the U.S. and internationally for the past decade, says he’s especially excited to be playing this show in Camden and hopes he can possibly make this a regular event.

“This is very exciting for me,” he said. “Camden is one of those small cities that have worked hard to give people a reason to stick around town on the weekends. When the Fine Arts Center called and asked about me doing a show, I was all for it, I thought it would be a nice thing to bring back home. Camden and especially the Town Green, is such a great place for these kinds of events.”

That Davis grew up to be a working musician is hardly a surprise; it definitely runs in his family. His father, guitarist/singer Rusty Davis, has been a popular local performer for many years here and currently runs Davis and Sons Guitar Shop in Camden. Patrick’s sister, Megan, is also a well-known and much beloved singer and will be leading the background singers in the Midnight Choir.

However, Patrick, while he always knew he wanted to make a living in music, never knew how such a career move would unfold. Happily, he has achieved success. As a staff songwriter for Warner Chappell (formerly EMI), he has penned hit tunes for such artists as Darius Rucker, Jimmy Buffett, Lady Antebellum, Imelda May and Jewel, to name a few. In recent times, however, he has seen and experienced a number of major changes, in the music industry, in songwriting and publishing, and in his own life.

“I’m still writing for Warner Chappell -- it’s a good gig to have,” said. “When I moved to town (Nashville), there were something like 15,000 writers on staffs all over town. Now, there might be 500-1000.”

However, the shrinking number of jobs in that particular sector has opened up other opportunities, not only for him, but for all musicians, he said.

“What I found was that, about four or five years ago, I was starting to feel a little disenfranchised in contemporary popular country music. I was writing songs in Nashville because I had a deep love of songwriting and I saw that writing in Nashville had great similarities to the things I liked and the artists I love.”

However, Davis said contemporary country music is an extremely limited genre and one he simply does not care for, nor listens to, much anymore.

“Commercial radio, pop radio is fine; it’s just a very narrow lane -- and it’s no longer all you have to listen to anymore,” Patrick said. “With platforms like Spotify and iTunes, you can find absolutely anything and everything you like. People don’t even really buy music in the traditional sense of buying an album or a CD anymore -- they can get whatever song they want and basically make their own albums the way they want and that’s how they buy music. And I think that’s just an incredible development.”

Finally, a couple of profound changes occurred in his life that helped him set his course in a different direction. In 2008, Patrick’s brother, Roger Davis, then 25 years old, died in a tragic accident. The experience, devastating and painful as it was, nonetheless was a catalyst for new creative direction and reassessment.

A few years after that, Davis went through a divorce, a difficult, yet ultimately liberating experience. That, too, led to a number of changes, including the formation and launching of the Midnight Choir.

The songwriting muse has also led to some interesting new destinations, artistically and literally. Davis has put together his Songwriters In Paradise festivals in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico; Hope Town, Bahamas; and in Napa, Calif. -- events that have become quite well attended.

He has also dabbled in other business ventures, most notably a partnership with Firefly Distillery on Whiskey Jam Whiskey.

“For me, personally, the past decade has been wonderful,” Davis said. “I have been able to transform. I still write, but I mostly write for myself. I am also in a very fortunate situation with my personal shows -- people spend their hard-earned money to come see us -- and I don’t take any of it for granted.”

That brings it all back home. Growing up in a music-loving household, listening to his father’s library-like album collection, which would turn him on to so many of his influences of today. Growing up in Camden and taking his first tentative steps onstage at some of Rusty’s gigs, singing classic rock, blues and country favorites honing his vocal abilities, learning to perform -- the whole package, not just play and sing -- and learning from other great musicians in and around Camden.

“One thing about growing up in Camden -- I was blessed to have grown up around a lot of really great musicians and been able to learn from them,” he said. “Camden is very unique that way -- it’s a very special and wonderful aspect a lot of people may not realize even exists.”

That exposure to a lot of different types of music and a lot of different musicians -- all of whom were very good at what they did -- was definitely a major advantage, an advanced education, actually, for him that has influenced his life and career, Davis said.

And all of that brings him to the Midnight Choir, which among other things, is something of a culmination of all his musical loves, right on the same stage.

“The Midnight Choir is fun!” he said. “When I really fell in love with music, it was the singer/songwriters that first got me -- James Taylor, Neil Young -- then in college it was stuff like Joe Cocker and Mad Dogs and Englishmen and Ray Charles and his band. When I got divorced, I was kind of wondering what was next, and I thought about all that and thought how I’d always wanted to put together a big band like that. And here you go.”

The Midnight Choir is definitely in the mold of some of those big bands, complete with a horn section, backup singers, and of course, his father on lead guitar.

“The band kind of changes from place to place -- I try to use locals where I can, but we have some really, really good musicians in the band. Like I said, it’s a lot of fun to play a Midnight Choir show. It’s great stuff -- its been a quite journey, but one thing I’ve learned is that as we get older, things change and we have to find where our happiness lies.”

And bringing it all back home definitely makes Patrick Davis happy.

“I’m always all over the place,” he said. “I spend a lot of time staring out at unfamiliar faces, so I always look forward to coming back and love seeing people I grew up with, people I love, people who helped shape who I am. It’s a wonderful feeling I think we all feel in some way shape or form.”

Patrick Davis and his Midnight Choir, with special guests Josh McCaa and Joal Rush, will play the Town Green in downtown Camden this Friday starting at 7 p.m. Tickets are $20 general admission, $50 VIP seating, $10 for youth, age 6 and under free. For more information call (803) 425-7676 or www.fineartscenter.org.

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