I first stumbled across Davie Smith on that vintage social media network known as Myspace.
I knew Davie ran a small music club in the town where I teach – Big Stone Gap, Virginia – and was a member of a band called Deep Black Void. The band’s music wasn’t my style – a little too dark, a little too leathery – but I kept track of what Davie was doing, simply because I was interested in folks in my area who were doing their best at making original music.
That was easily five years ago, if not more. Since then, Davie has set out on his own, developing his own guitar driven, retro rock and roll sound. He put together his own outfit, We Killed Vegas, toured for a while, and then became a member of If Birds Could Fly, one of the better bands who call Southwest Virginia home.
Something was missing, though. Simply put, it was a local music scene. The rural mountains of Southwest Virginia are a musical hotbed, rich with fantastic musicians, that is notoriously lacking in outlets for most types of music not of the banjo driven, high lonesome sound. Recognizing that, Davie Smith did what so many other talented musicians do – he packed the van and headed to Nashville.
Davie’s move is one I admire. It isn’t easy to leave the comforts of home, and the Music City has a way of chewing up musicians, but Davie is out there and working, making connections, and pushing his music. I respect that. I recently caught up with him to discuss his move, making music in Nashville, and hot chicken.
BRO – How nerve wracking was it taking the plunge and moving to Nashville?
DS – The most nerve wracking part was figuring out how I was going to tell my girlfriend. I decided that if I was going to do music, this was something I absolutely had to do. At the time, I had a couple friends willing to do it with me. After putting it off for several weeks while dealing with the mixed emotions of dread, excitement, and depressions, I confronted her. My thoughts were that, since she was already set with a career, we would end up doing something long distance or breaking up, neither being something I was looking forward to. Turned out that she loved the idea of moving with me and found another job here in Nashville within a month. It worked out for the better, because my friends backed out at the last minute.
BRO – Do musicians who make the move to Nashville share an “If I can make it there, I can make it anywhere” resolve?
DS – There are definitely two sides to that coin. It’s a plus that there are so many transplant musicians here trying to make – hence the name “Music City” – but that also makes it harder to stand out. I moved to Nashville for the resources. I found out very quickly that doing typical band things like booking paid gigs or finding serious bandmates is difficult due to the sheer number of musicians around. On the flip side, I now have musicians for adding on or playing in shows, photographers, promoters, and the like all on speed dial, which is something I never had back home. My game plan is the same as it has always been, which is to expose as many people as possible to my music. The difference is that now I have Nashville and all of its resources to come home to. It’s everyone’s dream to have Nashville behind them, but sometimes I think musicians get too caught up in the idea of making it in Nashville and it can work against them.
BRO – In five words or less, finish this thought: Nashville is different than my hometown because . . .
DS – . . . there are more pompadours. I think there is a Pompadour-O-Matic on a street corner where all the dudes get their hair cut. It also tosses them a blue jean jacket and rolls their pants legs on the way out.
BRO – We are featuring “I Need A Friend” on this month’s Trail Mix. What’s the story behind the song?
DS – When I first got to Nashville, I immediately decided that I needed a solid album before I did anything. I locked myself in my studio and went to work. Things got a little out of hand, what with being completely alone in a new city and having zero friends. It would probably be embarrassing if there had been a hidden camera in that room. I’ve had the music on the back burner for a while and comically sang some lyrics about my situation and how I could really use a friend. Surprisingly, they worked. I sprinkled a little soul in there and wrote about how I was feeling at that moment.
BRO – You can only really call a new city home when you find that special take out restaurant. You found it yet?
DS – Oh, yes. Bolton’s Hot Chicken. If you come to Nashville and ask a local what to eat, you’re going to get something about trying the hot chicken. There are five or so hot chicken restaurants here and I have had them all. Bolton’s is king. It is the grimiest ghetto rock and roll restaurant ever and they treat you like dirt until you get to know them, but it’s cool, because the only thing that matters is the chicken. When I die, I want to be buried in their mac and cheese.
Davie & The Untamed will next take the stage on February 7th at Turn One in Nashville. Take a listen to “I Need A Friend” on this month’s Trail Mix and, if you dig it, point your browser here and grab a copy of the new EP. Stay tuned to Davie’s website for the upcoming release of his full album on Goldship Records.