|Brian Davis – photo by Arlis Albritton
It is another night in small town rural America with a certain buzz in the air of excitement. Two trailers with a photo of Brantley Gilbert are lined up with three tour buses behind the venue. Inside one of those tour buses is country music singer-songwriter Brian Davis. Joining him is fans for a private meet and greet that includes an acoustic performance, drinks, koozie, and a copy of his latest album, “Under the Influence.”
“I want to meet each and every fan out there. I feel blessed being able to do what I do,” Davis notes. Playing three songs off of his sixth album, “Under the Influence,” fans got a personal connection and story behind the songs. One of those songs, “Against the World,” was written with Brantley Gilbert and Arlis Albritton. The love song is a sure bet to win the hearts of couples.
Brian Davis came to Nashville via the way of North Carolina. He first realized that he wanted to make a living doing music after working alongside his father and grandfather. “I was tuning guitars for my dad when I was 8 and he asked if I wanted to go out and play. I walked out on stage and played for about 1500 people. I was hooked ever since. There is not a day that I regret doing what I do. I have the most amazing job on the planet.”
“When I first moved to Nashville when I was 24 years old, I didn’t want to sink a lot of money into a house or anything like that. I knew that I was out on the road a lot playing the honky tonks,” Davis recalls. “A buddy of mine had just bought a brand new 35 foot travel trailer. I thought to myself that this is exactly what I need – set one up in the trailer park and have at it. I did that for four years, living in a travel trailer in Nashville. It was one of the best times in my life. My buddies and I were so poor that we couldn’t afford the heat. We basically heat the thing with a hair dryer. It was crazy and awesome all at the same time.”
In order to make ends meet, Brian would work on a horse farm just south of Nashville. “I was making $11 an hour and thought it was gold mine. I would go in at five in the morning and shovel horse crap until about 9:30. I’d go and get cleaned up and head into Music Row for songwriting sessions with people that believed in me,” Davis said.
One of those people that believed in him was the legendary songwriter Harlan Howard. “He is probably the biggest influence in my songwriting. He is the greatest songwriter in Nashville. He offered me my first deal and I was blown away by that. I think he was looking for a young kid that had a little bit of talent that he could throw some secrets at. Bobby Pinson is another person I look up to. If you take any song he is written, it is basically Songwriting 101. It is exactly how you write a song.”
It was during a performance that he met Brantley Gilbert. Soon after, they were songwriting together and Brantley would invite Brian to open up his tour. According to Brian, one of the things that he has learned from Brantley is that you can do this (performing) without the backing of a label. “We moved to town to get our music out. Sometimes a label can help or hinder you. I want to be able to put as much music out on the table to get it out to the people. That’s what matters the most to me – it isn’t about the money, it is about putting real music out on the table. We are the decision makers and pick what we want to put out,” Davis said.
At this point, it is fifteen minutes to showtime. Fans have filled the arena for the sold out show. The mosh pit area is packed like sardines as the sounds of Waylon Jennings, Johnny Cash, and more are heard overhead. Brian Davis takes the stage and performs a rocking 30 minute set that engages fans. One particular song, “Lights of My Hometown,” stand firm with the small town crowd as they joined in to sing along.
Soon afterwards, Brian is signing autographs for everyone at the merchandise booth. It is evident that he is completely humbled by the fans compliments. “What blows me away on a regular basis is that these guys could have done anything on a Friday night. They could have stayed at night, went to a ballgame, or go out to a vacant field and have a bonfire. But they chose to come here to see us perform. That means everything because ultimately without them we wouldn’t be able to do what we do. To know that we are connecting on that level is massive for me. It’s humbling for me,” Davis recalled.
Jessica Blankenship is the owner and founder of Kentucky Country Music website with over 20 years experience in music journalism, concert planning, photography, and promotion. Jessica is a Kentucky Colonel and alumni of the 2019 Leadership Kentucky BRIGHT Class and a recipient of the Laurel County’s Ten Under 40 Award. Listen to her each week on WFKY on Friday mornings for the Nashville News Roundup.