Exclusive interview

Big Jim Davis

Country music artist, Big Jim Davis!

Where did you grow up? I was raised in Jackson, TN, home of The Casey Jones Museum. Rock n Roll queen Tina Turner, country crooner Eddy Arnold, and blues great Sonny Boy Williamson were all born in or near Jackson. The legendary Carl Perkins lived the last years of this life there.

What inspired you to get into music? My parents and grandparents were very active in church choirs and were talented singers. I took piano lessons at the age of 12 from a Pentecostal woman. She taught me big, rock and roll style chords. Between 12 and 15 I became aware of blues and rock and roll. My dad was into country and big band which I was not interested in at that time. I started writing songs at 15 and played in local bands through high school. At the age of 17 the legendary Roland Janes, who played guitar on every record Jerry Lee Lewis recorded, took me under his wing at Sonic Record Studio in Memphis. My first record "Rock-a-bye Baby" (Jimmy Davis and the Madisons) was released on Boot Heel Records in 1968 as I was leaving for the U.S. Air Force.

Do you write and produce your own music? Yes, I write all of my own music and lyrics. Most of my songs are inspired by personal experiences, many of the lost love variety. For the 50 years between military service and getting back into music seriously five years ago I recorded on 2 and 4 channel analog tape recorders. Once I decided to jump back in after playing a gig with a reunion band about five years ago, I converted one of the bedrooms in my house into a recording studio, purchased some good recording equipment, mics, monitors, and software and started converting 40+ years of analog tape to digital format. In addition to songs that I remembered, I discovered several songs that I had forgotten. I recorded everything that I thought was a good song. In addition to recording all of the instruments (except drums) I recorded all of the lead and backup vocals. Then I spent a lot of time learning about producing, mixing and mastering. I discovered that making a song "radio ready" is far more complicated than recording the tracks. I got some help along the way from Troy Engel, Grammy nominated fiddle and pedal steel player, and Grammy nominated Carsten Schack, aka Soul Shock, producer of Whitney Houston, Beyonce, Tupac, and many more R & B artists loved my music and started doing final remixing of my tracks.

What is a songwriting session like for you? First is the inspiration. As I mentioned, most of my early songs were based on experiences which affected me emotionally or that I observed and then converted to musical stories. Other songs evolved from phrases I heard, like "You Still Got It Mama," which a couple of young guys said to my older and beautiful wife as they passed by her. She was thrilled by the attention, so I wrote a song of that title as a tribute to the beauty, desirability, experience and sensuality of mature women. During Covid I read a story about a man who visited his wife at a nursing home every day. Because of covid he could not go inside the facility, so he would stand outside her window and sing to her. I wrote "Loving Through the Window" in 2020 which hit the National Music Weekly charts. I know there are talented people who can sit down and churn out chart worthy songs on demand. I need something to inspire the creative process. Sometimes the song flows out of my head, sometimes it takes a long time to complete the story.

Did you take guitar lessons or are you self taught? My dad played the guitar and sang. He only knew about six chords. He taught me those chords and bought me a chord book. I listened to records and albums by groups like The Ventures, and learned all the guitar parts by playing along with them. Drove my mom nuts playing the same songs over and over.

What is your local country music scene like right now in Los Angeles? There are several good country music bars and restaurants in the Los Angeles area, mostly in the suburbs.

Do you perform live often? Prior to Covid, I played occasionally with local bands, mostly classic rock and roll cover bands. I have also played with local bands in my hometown of Jackson, TN when visiting.

Where are your favorite places to perform? Small venues where you can make a connection with the people in the audience.

Tell us about your latest project. My latest release "Still Thinkin' Bout You" is a song story about what might happen when a high school crush is rekindled after a chance encounter at a reunion. The inspiration came from a conversation at the reunion, and took two years to finish. The style is country blues with a lot of slide guitar. A radio promotion by Loggins Promotions out of Nashville will start soon.

What can we expect from you in the future? Writing and playing music has been my own form of therapy for a long time. Writing songs, regardless of mood, is a similar to keeping a journal. Writing things down helps you to deal with them. Writing songs about personal experiences helps you to remember them, while providing an opportunity for others to listen to music that expresses feelings they can relate to.


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