Aaron Davis: The Mystery Inside the Machine
The distance between a sure bet and a Mystery is adventure fueled by trepidation. Work the songwriting dirt. Employ the Machine. Expose the invention to audible minds and various texture experts. Enter Aaron Davis & the four-piece version of The Mystery Machine, the project of Renaissance man and award-winning songwriter Aaron Davis appearing at the Beartrap Summer Festival.
Native to Kentucky and based in Jackson Hole, Wyoming since 2001, Davis is a vocalist, multi-instrumentalist, engineer/producer, and co-founder of decade long Americana touring band Screen Door Porch and the multi-act WYOmericana Caravan Tour. He’s also the founder of five-piece blues-rock outfit Boondocks, curator of the monthly concert series Songwriter’s Alley, and engineers recording projects from his own Three Hearted Studio in Hoback.
What started as a casual, mostly acoustic project in 2013 has evolved into a multi-headed beast of a Mystery Machine in 2018. Across friendships, recording projects and stage time, Davis has tapped over a dozen top-notch players from Teton County to be involved. When he’s not chasing trout with a fly rod, Davis is performing solo, duo and with full band incarnations to bring his Mystery Machine vision to fruition.
“From ‘searing slide guitar’ (Country Weekly) in the country-blues vein a la Duane Allman, to grooving poetic tunes that swing from soulful folk to gypsy-grass and Rock N Roll, Aaron is a lover of the energy harvested from both acoustic roots and electric sounds. For this reason, he utilizes an arsenal of instruments—electric guitars, resonator, banjo, lap steel and harmonica.” A self-made, independent artist dedicated to his craft, The New York Times noted Aaron’s “entrepreneurial gumption” in producing such entertaining stage shows as the “traveling concert circus” that is the WYOmericana Caravan Tour.
Davis has released eight albums since 2005 with various projects, most notably four studio albums with Screen Door Porch. The first two Screen Door Porch albums—Screen Door Porch (2010) and The Fate & The Fruit (2012)—were internationally recognized in a combined eight “Best Albums of the Year” lists while hovering in the Top 25 of the Euro-Americana Chart. Modern Settler (2015) was voted Album of the Year by Wyoming Public Radio listeners while Pay it Forward (2017) shows a band at their creative peak before taking an indefinite hiatus under the best of terms.
The aforementioned projects have allowed Davis to share the stage with some of his songwriting and guitar-slinging heroes: Wilco, Willie Nelson, Jason Isbell & the 400 Unit, Buddy Guy, Sam Bush, Grace Potter, James McMurtry, and Justin Townes Earle. There are certainties and there are conundrums. The Mystery Machine hovers like a pendulum, gravitating from the worn path and aiming towards the genuine.
(The other band members: David Bundy, bass; Jason Baggett, drums; Mike Patton, piano/organ)
As one observer puts it, “Enter the Mystery Machine, Era II. A gathering of the vibes. A batch of songs fly for the first time. Some of these dudes will play together on stage for the first time. The Mystery lives. comprised of unbolted, recital-ready components that were conjured up to work the dirt. Come tinker with the machine.”
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