Eastern Iowa country fans got a sweet treat at Day 2 of the GAS Feed & Seed Festival. Last night Elise Davis, named as an artist to watch last year by Rolling Stone Country, performed an eight song set to add some delightful twang to the night also featuring eleven other artists, mostly from the rock or singer/songwriter genres. Elise was ably supported by drummer Doy Gardner and her frequent songwriting partner Clint Wells on electric guitar. So glad they made the eight hour trip from Nashville!
About half of Elise’s set was drawn from her album The Token (get a free 4-song sample here BUT buy the full album here) released last summer on Make The Kill Records and Thirty Tigers. Nashville-based Thirty Tigers is a rather unique entertainment business that works with artists like Elise who wish to maintain ownership of their music.
Thirty Tigers concentrates on distribution, marketing and promotion – the business side of the music business — and leaves the creative side to the artists. What a cool concept! Elise keeps good company there, too. Thirty Tigers’ website shows a wide quilt of diverse and interesting artists, including (in part): John Prine, Elizabeth Cook, Tommy Emmanuel, Big Kenny, Blackberry Smoke, Granger Smith, Randy Rogers and Whitney Rose (who will be in Davenport at Moeller Nights show March 21). They also manage some impressive acts, including Jason Isbell, Patty Griffin and Trampled by Turtles among them.
Elise’s songs drew heavily from personal experience, according to her leisurely song introductions. She was friendly and unpretentious, both on and off stage. She told of venturing from her hometown of Little Rock, AR, to Nashville in 2012 and landing a job waiting tables to pay the bills. “Imagine that, a blond musician working as a waitress,” quipped Elise, who looks the part of superstar in the making.
In 2013, after winning a publishing deal through a contest by American Songwriter magazine, Elise shifted full-time to songwriting and performing, and eventually struck a creative groove with Wells. Her music is heartfelt and mostly mid-tempo, the kind of tunes I like to listen to in the car. Last night, Elise performed, among the eight, one of my favorite songs that she and Wells penned for The Token – Right Way to Ask Me. I also especially liked Pretty Girl and a new one called Lone Wolf.
Elise and company could not have been nicer. They took time to chat with me and Justin Heaton, who is an awesome photographer that took all the shots for this post. She gave us each copies of The Token plus a little sort-of comic book she wrote called, It’s OK to be Broken. Gardner and Wells gave me tips on where listen to music in Nashville. “Don’t go to Lower Broadway,” they warned. Singing to the choir on that one, guys! I swore off after my last visit to Nashville – it is not enjoyable for a middle-aged, non-drinking gal that prefers original music over drunken singalongs to radio hits. The guys said I’ll like the 5 Spot and The Basement in East Nashville much better. And I found out where to get a tattoo in Nashville – Black 13 Tattoo – which is owned by Gardner. (If you know me, you’ll laugh at that one.)
Still, I had to ask Elise if she has her sights on radio. “I just want to make records I love and if my songs find their way to radio, that’s great,” she said. In the meantime she’s busy with touring and prepping for a new album. Later this month Elise is out on the road with country star Texan Jack Ingram and then she’s got a stint with Justin Townes Earle, singer/songwriter and son of Steve Earle. Again, she keeps great company.
Love the retro feel of the song I Just Want Your Love in the video below. It sounds similar to what I might have heard coming from my Aunt Doris’ hi fi in the early 1970s.
This official video of “I Just Want Your Love” was linked from Elise Davis’ channel on YouTube. I claim no rights to the content.
Thanks again to Justin Heaton who took all the pictures for this post.
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