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John Davis and the Cicadas
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Pricing info: $10.00 - $12.00
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John Davis & the Cicadas Bio
John Davis is a recording artist & multi-instrumentalist originally from Cambridge MA, where he started The Folk Implosion with partner Lou Barlow in the summer of 1993 before leaving the band in 2000. John relocated to Durham, NC in August of 2013 to begin working with producer Scott Solter on a muckraking cycle of songs about corporate corruption in the food industry and related issues like (im)migration, mass incarceration, public health, and the stock market. Previews of the resulting album, El Pulpo, will start appearing online in April leading up to a September release via Shrimper/Revolver here in the US and Arbouse Recordings in France.
The songs were originally written in Watertown, MA between 2010 and 2012 after reading the book Stuffed and Starved by Raj Patel and many other similar texts such as Empire’s Workshop by Greg Grandin. But they were recorded entirely in North Carolina, where a synergistic relationship evolved between the recording studio and the local community because of John’s work as a public school teacher and activist with the Durham Association of Educators. Living in the same town as producer Solter allowed John to record on evenings and weekends while teaching in a school that serves many children of immigrants from some of the countries referenced in the lyrics of this record. A summer recording trip to Mitch Easter’s Fidelitorium Studios in Kernersville, NC saw the band drive by Syngenta’s Headquarters for North and South America in Greensboro NC. The presence of a nearby feedstore in downtown Kernersville served as a reminder of the agricultural power of NC’s economy, where 90% of the state’s 100K farmworkers are undocumented, mostly from Latin America.
The album title translates as “The Octopus,” after the derisive nickname union organizers in Central America gave to the United Fruit Company because of the tentacle-like grip it used to turn countries like Honduras and Guatemala into the prototypical “Banana Republic.” But the songs chart the machinations of other Octopi, from Coca-Cola to Monsanto, Blue Cross/Blue Shield and Drexel Burnham Lambert, while referencing pop-culture figures ranging from Mean Joe Green and Juan Valdez to Frank Sinatra and the infamous Earl Rusty Butz, Richard Nixon’s erstwhile Secretary of Agriculture.
This dense and experimental-yet-catchy album was executed with the help of over a dozen backing musicians including Peter Hughes of The Mountain Goats on bass, Andrew Levi-Hiller of Yairms/Alhhla on drums, Wendy Allen of Balustrade Ensemble on backing vocals, Jonathan Henderson of Kaira Ba on stand up bass, and improv trombone player Jeb Bishop. The resulting backing band was named The Cicadas in hommage to the noisy insects that are common in the south. It’s a shifting ensemble that has varied from 3 to 9 members onstage. The lineup on a given night depends on the availability of a rotating cast of characters, all of whom are involved with multiple musical projects and sources of gainful employment. We review sports cars, make metal sculptures, test children ad nauseum, teach yoga, serve southern cuisine, agitate for social justice, translate foreign languages, teach drums and bass, and purvey handmade scarves, hats, and mittens.
The April shows will be mostly be quartet affairs, with Justin Blatt on Viola and Keys, Rob Chamberlain on drums and electronics, and Ittai Korman on bass. The Cicadas will swell to a quintet for 2 of the shows: Dylan Thurston will play additional drums and keys in Brooklyn, and Jeb Bishop will sit in on trombone in Boston.
Formed in Chapel Hill, NC in 2013, Flash Car resists easy categorization. They lean towards a psychedelic pop/rock sound with an oddball, just-off-center, and out-of-time pop sensibility. In other words, Flash Car is fully equipped with the latest in modern technology, yet retains the craft and elegance of a bygone era. Hope you don't feel too unusual. with Evil English, Flash Car