by Lauren Dixon
Whether he’s opening for famous singer-songwriters like Matt Kearney or just strummin’ a few strings down in the Elmhurst College Roost, Jake Davis exudes music.
Stationed in The Leader office, Davis definitely looks a little out of his element. Like he should be holding a guitar or a microphone or something. Maybe listening to Arcade Fire.
Blue jeans, a jean shirt rolled up at the sleeves, a rather impressive belt buckle and a pair of boots, Davis has the look down to a tee. But who is he? When did he know he wanted to be a musician?
“I still don’t,” Davis laughs.
A Nashville native and a freshman at EC, Davis wasn’t one of those crazy hooligans running around with a hairbrush microphone at two years old. No, Davis “wasn’t one of those kids” and describes himself as “pretty quiet.” So when did it all begin?
“I guess I first started trying to be [a musician], or writing songs, about four years ago,” said Davis. “But there’s always been music around my family.”
Soon after realizing the passion, Davis put his skills to work. Singing, playing guitar and banjo as well as writing his material paid off with the formation of his current band, Blue Cadet Three. With main partner Patrick Howell mixing it up on the bass, banjo, ukulele and viola, the band also has additional viola and banjo players and a drummer.
Inspiration draws from “all over the place,” with artists like Bob Dylan, Neil Young, Avid Brothers and Modest Mouse topping the list.
Earlier this year, the band even put out a record, entitled Palomino Wildfire and co-produced by Davis. “I worked tirelessly on it for about a year,” said Davis. “It pretty much consumed me.”
Davis likened the feeling of holding the finished product to “what it’s like to hold your firstborn child, [but with a] lot less crying and diapers.”
“I was terrified about putting out a record because it’s such a daunting thing to do,” said Davis. “But holding the finished CD in my hands was one of the proudest moments of my life.”
Speaking of terror, does Davis ever experience that little monster called stage fright?
“Definitely. It’s pretty intense,” said Davis. “First time we started playing shows with bigger crowds, I’d start to panic. But then you get on stage, you pick up a guitar and it’s all good. You don’t even realize you’re there.”
Davis recalled his favorite performance, opening up for artist Matt Kearney at a benefit show for Operation Smile in Nashville.
“It was awesome to play for a bigger crowd at a professional venue,” said Davis. “It was definitely a good experience.”
A culmination of all this, said Davis, is what ultimately lead him to EC to study music business. Even with great music schools like Belmont University at his front door, Davis ultimately decided that Elmhurst was the right fit for him.
“Everyone goes to Belmont to be a music business major,” said Davis. “Everyone’s going there to try and get their foot in the door, but there’s only so much space in that door.”
According to Davis, there’s “not as many people [at EC] and it’s not as competitive.”
Future plans for the musician include learning more about the music industry, specifically about music distribution, and continuing with the music. Although the singer says success doesn’t equal lots of fans and wads of cash, there’s always room to dream.
“The dream is to play at the Ryman Auditorium. Everyone who is anyone has played there. That would be a dream come true.”