Davies of The Kinks
Performing Solo at Marian College's Todd Wehr Alumni Center
Wednesday, October 6th 1999, 9:00
The Marian College Dave Davies FAQ sheet
Press Release - Legendary Rock and Roll Hall of Fame guitarist Dave Davies will make a unique appearance at Marian College's Todd Wehr Alumni Center on Wednesday, October 6, at 9 p.m. Davies is a co-founder (with his brother Ray) of The Kinks, one of the Big Four of the British Invasion along with The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, and The Who.
At Marian, Davies will perform as he never has before in his 30-year-plus career: as a solo performer playing acoustic and electric guitars. He plans to play, sing, talk to the audience, and answer questions during his appearance, focusing on his career in and relation to popular culture both in The Kinks and as a solo artist.
Davies will have a lot to discuss, since he and The Kinks have charted well over 100 albums and singles in the U. S. and U. K. from the 1960s to the 1990s. He, in fact, revolutionized popular music on the very first international Kinks hit, "You Really Got Me," by "inventing" power chords and paving the way for rock to replace 1950s-style rock 'n roll.
Davies has done more than just create an influential sound. He has sung lead and backing vocals on Kinks songs and composed a number of them, written film scores and screenplays, and released solo albums of his own. While his brother Ray has worked on stage productions in London and New York recently, Dave has focused more extensively on his solo activities, winning raves from The New York Times, among others, for his solo band performances and his website (www.davedavies.com), which combines his popular culture with his spiritual concerns.
Dave Davies's appearance is open to all free of charge. Obviously, the entire
Marian community is cordially invited to attend; and people from Europe, Canada,
and across the United States have expressed a desire to see this one-of-a-kind event.
By Michael Kraus
The focal point of Davies's appearance on the campus was an evening performance piece ("a work in progress") at the college's Todd Wehr Alumni Center before a standing-room-only crowd that seemed to enjoy the raucous, informal presentation as much as Davies did. Indeed, if one "first" for Davies was appearing on a stage totally alone, another was the way he fashioned a funny and at the same time emotionally riveting performance piece that interweaved his music, spiritual concerns, fragments of autobiography, and commentary on his role in The Kinks.
As such, Dave's performance differed radically from brother Ray's recent celebrated storytelling exploits. Both are brilliant, both reference The Kinks, both are idiosyncratic. But Dave's focus and narrative structure were completely different, and his disarmingly self-revelatory and spiritually suffused tone rendered his work, like his brother's, unique unto itself.
During the course of his two-hour-plus performance, Dave, in conversational monologues and in numerous readings from his autobiography Kink, focused on his family background, his developing the guitar sound of "You Really Got Me," and his Kinks career. While his recounting of his childhood was generally light in tone, Davies focused in a much darker manner on an era not previously explored on stage -- the early-1970s post-"Lola" decadent glam-rock period. Stating he felt that his life was "spiritually leaking," Davies reached a key point in his performance, and the most devastatingly emotional moment of the show, when recounting his early 1970s breakdown in a dingy hotel while on tour, and the subsequent spiritual, psychic, and aesthetic renewal which began with a visit from an old friend ("my angel") and which comprised the latter half of his performance.
Davies was simultaneously touching, powerful, humorous, draining, life-affirming, and charismatic. He closed with a song declaring what everyone in the audience already understood about him: "I'm Not Like Everybody Else."
That final song punctuated the way his music served as the backbeat to the performance. Davies's guitar playing (all acoustic except for the first and last songs) was as brilliant as might be expected. It is his voice that has become a revelation: pure, rich, and ranging flawlessly into and out of the upper registers. Crucially, the music was chosen for and integrated seamlessly into the performance context. Those expecting a "greatest hits" show didn't get one: "You Really Got Me" was virtually the only Kinks mega-hit Davies played. The rest of his choices generally reflected the songs he's been doing with his own band the last couple of years -- many of which appear on his Unfinished Business CD.
As might be expected, the biggest musical surprises were songs radically revamped for only a single guitar: the brilliant new song "Fortis Green" in a stripped-down arrangement; a slowed-tempo reworking of "Long Tall Shorty"; the anthemic "Unfinished Business"; and the stirringly elegaic "Living On a Thin Line," so reworked as an acoustic-only song and so recontextualized as a loving tribute to his relationship with his brother as to constitute a total re-vision.
Apparently not wanting to leave the stage or to stop taking risks, Davies fielded audience questions on a number of questions after the performance. He noted that he wished John Lennon were here ("This would be John's time; a lot of things he really cared about are being realized"), responded to the expected Kinks question ("If Ray calls and wants to do something, I'll be there in a minute"), and detailed his relationship with his children.
Along the way, Davies also made three other "news announcements":
He will soon release the first CD of a "Demo Series" of previously unavailable
material from throughout his career. These recordings, many described as brilliant
by those who have heard them, likely represent the most-significant unearthing of
Kinks-related material in decades.
He plans to record a roots-blues CD with son Daniel in the near future. This follows on the release last year of a CD with son Russell, Purusha and the Spiritual Planet, which is also being developed as an animated feature.
He will tour (the West Coast) in December with his own band, although dates have yet to be confirmed.
Davies also elaborated in depth on his Spiritual Planet website (www.davedavies.com), a remarkable work that certainly helped inspire the evening's final event: The Marian College Theology Department stunned Davies by presenting him with its 1999 Faith in Dialogue Award for, as the accompanying plaque read, "music that raves, rocks, sings, tells the truth, and helps bring healing in the spiritual planet."
Earlier that same day, Davies had visited an Honors Program class at Marian College and responded to and informally lectured on a wide range of questions regarding popular culture and spirituality and his relationship to them.Davies's presence, in fact, continued to be felt after he left the campus. The week's Davies-related activities culminated with a faculty-led panel discussion and analysis of Davies's performance art in terms of theater, dramatic structure, spiritual concerns, and the role of music. By that time, Davies was back in Los Angeles, studying the tapes of his performance and formulating a "lesson plan" for his next session.
Review by Leslie Ohanian ...
If you had asked me a year ago if I'd ever consider a vacation in Fond du Lac,
I'd first ask, "where?" then I'd ask what chemicals you had ingested. So
imagine my surprise when Fritz and I were invited to attend a "one off"
Dave show in Fond du Lac Wisconsin by Mike and Linda Kraus. Mike teaches at Marian
College, where this event was to take place.
We left Ann Arbor with only the vaguest of plans, and the sense of adventure Fritz and I always take along on these road trips.
We had heard rumors that this was to be a solo performance, no "Ravens" or backing musicians. Just Dave, his guitar, and Kink to read from. A possible question and answer period was hinted at as well. This format was a really interesting concept and we were really curious as to how it would work.
We rolled into Fond du Lac early on Wednesday October 6th. The town seemed picturesque and quaint as only a town built around a small Liberal Arts college run by the Sisters of Agnes could be. While Fritz was out sight seeing, we got the call to come down to the coffee shop to wait on the sound check with Mike and Linda. The coffee shop is in a very new building that for all the world resembles a giant poker chip holder.
Kate set up her merchandise table in the hallway outside the shop, so I walked over to see what she had. She must have recognized me as she said, quite accurately, "You already have all this stuff." And then she hinted at something to be announced for release in November during the show. I could see that no amount of pleading would help, so I contained my enthusiasm and went back to join Fritz.
Although the crowd was just over a hundred, the seating was catch as catch can after about 8:30pm, people sitting on the floor ringed the walls.
At a bit after nine Mike Kraus took the stage to introduce Dave, and then the man himself threaded through the crowds and took the stage.
Dave talked a bit about the early years of his life, and the beginning of the Kinks, and played "You Really Got Me." Then he picked up Kink and read a passage. He talked about the green amp, played a snippet of "Peggy Sue" and some other pop influenced music
After a bit more reading, he put the book down and announced it was time for more music. We were treated to "Long Tall Shorty", "SusannahÝs Still Alive" and "This Man He Weeps Tonight".
During "Death of a Clown" he asked for someone to come up and sing with him. Mike pushed me towards the stage, but I stayed seated. I did sing along loudly, and at the end he said "very nice singing Leslie!"
The audience seemed to warm up a great deal during the music and I even saw a few toes tapping and heads nodding. I've been to over a dozen Dave shows, and I must add here that his voice was stunningly gorgeous. The acoustic sets gave his singing major focus and he had the voice of an angel.
Right before "Fortis Green" he gave a bit of background to this song and told us that this was inspired by the 50th birthday celebration thrown for him by Ray. Ray arranged for a surprise party and then as the candles on the cake were lit Ray jumped on the cake, smashing it.
Dave announced that he had just completed a CD called "Fortis Green" part of a new demo series that will be available only on his website sometime in November. We whooped for joy at this, which made some of our fellow audience members look at us funny!
From "Fortis Green" he went into "Living on a Thin Line" I've never heard an "unplugged" version of one of my favorite Kinks songs, but not only did it work, it was one of the best versions ever!
He sang a few more songs including a particularly moving rendition of "Too Much on My Mind" and "Young and Innocent Days" that left a lump in my throat and read some more from Kink.
Then he opened up the floor for a question and answer period. I don't remember the questions verbatim, but one man asked him about his spiritual teachers and he talked quite at length about that subject.
Another man asked Dave who he would consider the most interesting person he had met in the music business. Dave replied "John Lennon." Dave talked about John and how the time for all the visionaries of the 60s to actually bring the hopes and dreams of that time, to fruition was now. And that by all rights John should still be with us to see his seeds of hope come to life. It was very moving and well spoken.
Dave talked about his musical projects, "Purusha and the Spiritual Planet" as a CD, (one he did with his son Russell) and an animated film. He also mentioned a blues style album he's working with his son Daniel on, and that another of his sons, Simon, is in a band Mash that is doing well in the UK. (I bought this album recently! Very nice!)
Dave told a funny story about when he was recording that album "AFL something, the barcode one." I called out "AFL1-3603" he looked surprised and asked me to repeat it. So I did, he said, "I guess I really have to watch myself around you" laughed and then said, "Thanks!".
He went on to tell of the time he was recording "Run" and got to the line, "and now at last I see all life as one all children are my own" he heard his then girlfriend laugh, he turned around to have her say, "they probably are!"
Just as Dave was about to leave the stage David Schimpf, a theology professor at Marian, stopped him. He made a nice speech about all the notable people Marian had awarded with the "Faith in Dialogue" award.
It was fairly obvious that Dave didn't know this was coming, he was looking around the room and playing with the bouquet of flowers I'd given him, sort of half listening. I wonder if he thought this award was for Mike Kraus.
The wording on the plaque was: "For music that raves, rocks, sings, inspires, tells the truth, and helps bring healing in the spiritual planet - Yes, it really, really matters. Dave Davies Faith in Dialogue Award Theology Program, Marian College October 6, 1999."
When Dave was handed the plaque, he looked very surprised and pretty much went weak at the knees. He regained his composure and by way of an acceptance speech said that the award meant more to him than anything he'd ever had previously.
The house lights came up signaling it was time for us to go. I was once again amazed at how fast two hours can fly by. Dave's shows have a way of making time go by too fast, the magic of them transports you to a totally different world where hours fly by like seconds.
This new format has so much promise. The interactive nature of it, and hearing Dave perform with just his guitar, is really wonderful. It allows for his charm and talent to show through. Don't get me wrong, I love the rock and roll shows too, but this had an intimate feeling to it that is hard to resist.
- By Michael Kraus
Concert Review - Rock Legend Rocks Common Grounds - The Sabre - 0ctober 12, 1999
Download an MP3 excerpt of the story of the
famous Green Amp from Dave's talk at Marion College