Davis is a singer/songwriter who was making his second appearance
in Atlanta. The first was a performance with a band at the library
several years ago. He was on the schedule last winter, but Mother
Nature intervened with a blizzard on the day of his performance.
After Davis set up his speakers and was ready to start the program
on Friday, it started to snow. “Behind the Scenes” facilitator Cathy
Maciariello mentioned that she thought Davis seemed to bring the
snow with him. Davis said that when he performed one of his releases
about rain, it rained the first two times he did it. Rain and snow
seem to follow him around.
Although Saturday’s concert went off without a hitch, the crowd
gathered at the Palms Café was relieved to see the snow turn to
flurries and then quit.
Davis has developed a following on the music scene in Illinois and
many of his fans were present to hear his concert. Any interruption,
such as snow, was not going to be tolerated.
It’s important to determine which Brian Davis showed up for the
Friday evening concert. While Brian Davis, the singer songwriter and
acoustic guitarist was the featured performer, it could just as
easily have been Davis the author of fiction and non-fiction, the
published short story author, the baseball fan, or Davis the
inveterate gamer. All of these artistic skills are wrapped up into
Davis’ first book is about gaming, a look not just at what is
involved or descriptions of popular games, but what gaming means to
his generation, the so-called millennials. Unlike earlier
generations who played video games during their teen years and then
dropped it as they moved into higher education and careers, Davis
contends that the current generation among which Davis counts
himself, he’s 27, sees gaming as an endeavor that they will
participate in for the rest of their lives. Davis maintains that
gaming has lifelong benefits and is not just a way to wile away
“Gaming can have the same benefits as books and movies,” he said.
That is the theme of this first book. He has also written short
stories, and has just begun his first novel whose theme is centered
on the larger-than-life characters that inhabit a fictional town.
Brian is a graduate of Eureka College with a major in English and
creative writing. That background can be seen in his song writing.
Davis crafts his songs about the areas of life that are most
important to him. He tells a story in each of his songs. He
especially likes the themes of change, moving in new directions, and
the courage it takes to change one’s life. “Sometimes not knowing
where you are going, the mystery of change is better than where you
are,” he said. He added that “having my head in the clouds helps me
to tell stories about life.”
His song “Sailing” tells a tale about doing something dangerous even
though there are disadvantages to this action, his point being that
sometimes danger creates the reason for change.
Davis also writes about his hometown of Peoria, but not always in
a complimentary vein. He criticizes the city for the lack of vision
and dedication to higher standards and has put these ideas into
Baseball is a theme in many of his songs, especially Cubs baseball
and his hero Greg Maddox. His song “Brave” is homage to Maddox.
Davis chuckled when he said “I tweeted the song to Greg and some
other Cub greats, but haven’t received a response.”
His current song, which has yet to be recorded, is “The New
Attraction”, a story in song about life on the road as a musician.
He performed it for the first time in public for the gathering at
“Behind the Scenes”.
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Brain Davis told a fascinating story about his song “Lullaby
Number 12” which he considers his best creation to date. A
friend of his with a band liked it and asked if he could cover
it. Davis agreed and sent his creation out into the music scene
with another performer. He heard some time later that the friend
ended up in jail, no details given. “My friend had to spend
several days incarcerated and began to sing ‘Lullaby Number 12’
before going to sleep in his cell. Soon the rest of the jail
population began to request it each night. So I guess I have
fans everywhere, even among jail inmates,” he said with a laugh.
Davis began singing and playing the guitar when he was
seventeen, and began songwriting several years later. He was
influenced by his older brother who is also a professional
musician. He credits the courses at Eureka College in the
creative writing program with shaping his approach to song
writing. “The creative writing program taught me how to craft a
coherent and interesting story, and I use those skills in my
songwriting,” he said.
When asked if he writes the lyric first and then fits the music
to it, he replied that music and words come to him at the same
time. “When I write a sentence, I repeat it and then the next
sentence seems to appear. Sometimes it comes quickly, but often
it takes a long time. Lines lead to lines. It is a different
process than Bob Dylan used. Dylan wrote his lyrics and then fit
the music to them later.
When I’m finished writing a song it is ready to be performed.
And since I have repeated all of the lines numerous times, I
already have it memorized,” he said. He can perform all of his
approximately sixty creations on the spot. When asked how he can
remember all of those lyrics, he said the best way to do it is
to not think about it, but just do it. “If I have to think about
what line comes next, I’m lost,” he said.
While he will perform some of his earlier songs if requested,
Davis says he has left many of them behind. “I may have moved in
a different direction with my lyrics, so I don’t perform the
early ones very often but I never grow bored with them,” he
Brian Davis was happy to play in the small space at the Palms to
a very attentive crowd. “I’m happiest performing in an intimate
space,” he said.
Davis performs in central Illinois and Chicago, and has toured
along the east coast. He had everyone’s attention at “Behind the
Scenes,” something that does not always happen in a noisy bar.
Listen to the lyrics of “The New Attraction” to understand what
he means when he said the Atlanta gig was a treat for him.
“Behind the Scenes” is a production of the Atlanta Public
Library. Library co-director Cathy Maciariello reaches out to
the arts community to bring talented performers to Atlanta.
Check the Atlanta Public Library website,
for the next performance.