CORY DAVIS: THE BEST GUITARIST YOU MAY NEVER HAVE HEARD OF by Ed Huerta
A LITTLE BIT ABOUT THE AUTHOR
World renowned artist and writer Ed Huerta, is making his 2nd appearance at Jackaboutguitars. “The Prince of Primitive” was born in Los Angeles and currently resides in Long Beach, California. A longtime musician, Ed has played in several L.A./O.C. bands, including The Jack Brewer Band, The Lazy Cowgirls, The Final Tourguides, Moist and Meaty, Mind Over 4, The Silly Millions, & Eddie & The Trays. He has also toured the U.S. and Europe as a drummer. Huerta started painting in 2007 as a way to relieve stress and to forget about everyday problems.
Many of his paintings involve fictional situations comprised of famous iconic people i.e. Elvis Presley, John F. Kennedy, Paul Lynde, Groucho Marx, Brian Wilson, & the likes of Charles Manson. Several musicians, from jazz and blues icons/legends, to hard-working local musicians, are highlighted in his paintings. Many of these paintings hang in the homes of famous artists and musicians and local Long Beach and Orange County establishments have Huertas work hanging on their walls and garden areas.
Someone once told me that it looks like Im grasping at that line between bad taste and achieving utter genius. Many of my paintings reflect the battle of Good vs. Evil, or the battle within oneself. My upbringing seems to permeate a lot of my work the heaven and the hell along with the humor that one has to have to deal with every day life, whether its the fire one has to endure or brings upon himself, or the goodness one strives to accomplish.
I started painting with acrylic on canvas, hardboard and wood surfaces. I like to recreate on round wood tabletops, old 78 rpm record labels. I like the look that old 78 labels had. Ed has more recently experimented with oils in a lot of his portrait of jazz icon series work. The oils are warmer, breathe better have a more life-like feel to them but an obvious disadvantage for a left-hander! Ed continues to play music (currently drumming in Lord Ransom and his Ranch Hands) and paint while his wife and two English Bulldogs and 3 cats lounge around and cheer him on. The following article on Cory Davis: THE BEST GUITARIST YOU MAY NEVER HAVE HEARD OF is Ed Huerta’s second contribution to Jackaboutguitars. Enjoy. Jack
A note from Author Ed Huerta : I would like to clarify one thing about this and future articles I will be doing for Jackaboutguitars. If you come to this column and expect to read about Eric Clapton, James Hetfield, or even John Mayer, then please, move on. In this column, I’ll be writing about lesser known guitarists and musicians.
I am hoping to spread the word about and open your eyes to other genres or talented players that are out there entertaining nightly in bars and clubs. This doesnt mean that these people have lesser talent or abilities. As a past and current part-time musician, fame is basically a crapshoot, with the music industry churning out and chewing up artists, as they deem necessary, anointing certain people with Starpower while others spend years honing their craft on stages and barroom concrete floors.
I would like to use this column for people to get a glimpse behind the scenes of what these musicians deal with and the spirit and influences that drive them forward. As Jack from jackaboutguitars shows on this website, the guitar and music are powerful tools that drive people to push limits, and if the spirit really gets inside of you, it’s a lifelong commitment. Thank you Dear Readers for understanding my reasons and now please read on. I hope you enjoy these brief moments inside the world of guitar players and their journeys – Ed Huerta
CORY DAVIS: THE BEST GUITARIST YOU MAY NEVER HAVE HEARD OF
Before I get into Corys story and history, let me take a few minutes and explain to some casual readers or fans of music how this interview opened up my eyes to the true musicians world. Upon writing this article, I stumbled upon certain truths that musicians hold dear. Now I’m not talking about your pre-fabricated, record company, spoon fed, you know whos; not talking about the people that have never played a nightclub or a bar; or if they did show up onstage in a seedy area of town, would get their @*%^# kicked immediately by patron reaction to their soulless crap. Im talking about gut-busting blues, about music from the soul, about paying ones dues, about accepting your gift and taking it as far as the world will let you take it, regardless of consequences or fame.
When I interviewed Cory Davis, I felt a certain kinship. We are both about the same age. We grew up in the punk rock days. I was never a punk rocker, but through bands I played in and the DYI mentality, and my skill or lack thereof, was labeled as a punk rock musician. I have no qualms about this. Cory also ran with the punkers. He was born in Minnesota but grew up in Venice, California where the scene was exploding, where lines were drawn by your style of dress and attitude. And yes, there were lines drawn back then too. Not like now, where fashion and trends are dictated by Target ads, vampire movies and social networks.
We lived through those hardcore days. Cory and I shared a common bond. We played the same circuit and venues in the same era. We listed the numerous nightclubs and bars that dont even exist anymore, where one could witness a wealth of amazing music springing forth from any of the clubs on any night of the week. There is no more Anti-Club, On Klub, The Central, Rajis, The Shamrock, Club 88, Coconut Teaszer, Safari Sams, Als Bar, Billy Bartys Roller Rink. These places are parking lots, mini-malls, or dry cleaners now.
The only memories of this musically rich time, are in the minds of middle-aged people eeking out a living. We both understood the pressures that break up bands and how hard it is/was to keep moving forward in the face of insurmountable negativity. A pure understanding of why one keeps going in the face of poorly distributed CDs, lack of financial backing, malaise that permeates the record industry, or missing the big breaks.
We have a lot in common, and as I was leaving the interview, on the drive home, I had an eerie feeling that I just interviewed myself (if I would have made certain other choices in life). You see, my entire life, I thought I would be a musician. Even in high school, on aptitude tests, I never fit into their little pockets or future plans, and hence, struggled throughout my adult life with career paths. It finally dawned on me at the age of 35, that I better make a choice, either sleep on floors and keep cutting a path through the forest of music and stay true to myself and the cause, or settle down and start looking for something that would make my life more comfortable (read not living in a car on the street in todays Amerika) until the end of my days. I chose the more comfortable path (call it selling out if you must), got married, bought a house ( mortgage is a great word mort=death/ gage=until you die), have a somewhat real job.
But here is the story of the other side of the coin. This is the story of a man that looks that decision in the face everyday and doesnt think twice about choosing to keep playing, to follow that dream. This is a guy that has the soul of a musician. I saw Charlie Parker, John Lennon, Hank Williams, Stevie Ray Vaughn, and every lonely kid that picked up an instrument in this mans reflected shades. The Roy Orbison coolness thought did pop into my head during the interview but seeing how soft-spoken he is, it could be due to a certain shyness that is inherent in many musicians that let their work do the talking for them.
I have only seen Corys eyes unadorned with shades once. That was after a Brass Knuckle Voodoo gig when he approached me to give me his phone number that I requested for this interview. I was sort of taken aback, because of the intensity of his stage persona, that he is a very intelligent, soft-spoken gentleman that chooses his answers carefully, and graciously accepts the way he stands in this world. His trademark dress in dark colors is not an act. One would never question Johnny Cashs reasons for dressing dark and after hearing this mans story and seeing him play, one would never question his choice either. My hat is off to Cory, he has the b@#*% to hang in there when others gave up or moved on.
I hope this article brings him out to the public a little more. Cory and Brass Knuckle Voodoo is a must see live act. This man incorporates on the spot guitar solos, conjuring up the ghosts of Jimi Hendrix and Stevie Ray, with the vocal soul prowess of Otis Redding, mixed with the inherent sadness of Johnny Cash and even the free form lightning bebop-ian Charlie Parker. I am proud of him and it was truly a pleasure to delve into this mans world and I believe its a certain kismet that brought this all together, from the jackaboutguitars website, to wanting to write, to actually contributing to the jackaboutguitars website, to the chance meeting of being where Corys band was playing on a night where I just wanted to eat pizza and have a glass of wine with the wife. I hope his story affects you like it did me. I left with nothing but respect for this man and his band please read on
Most Friday nights will find the wife and I at diPiazzas World Famous Italian Restaurant in my adopted hometown of Long Beach, California. We have been going there for years and are friendly with the owners, Mark and Maralyn diPiazza. Its a nice place with great food, friendly workers, positive vibes, the perfect place to wind down after a busy week. Dipiazzas is also known for their musical entertainment. Just about every night of the week, one can find a local and/or touring band gracing their stage. On this particular night, as we were leaving, The Godfather of the Long Beach music scene himself, Mark diPiazza came up to me and said You cant leave! Check out this band Brass Knuckle Voodoo, you gotta see this guy on guitar! Hes f *^#+$> incredible! When the Godfather shows this much passion, one has to listen, plus I trust this mans opinion.
I entered the dining area and stood by the side of the stage. Looking around, I noticed there was a respectable amount of people in the booths but it wasnt SRO by any means. Up on the stage was a three piece band being led by a man with shades on, dressed all in black, black hat, black fingernail polish, playing a black beat up, home decorated guitar with a CRAMPS sticker on it. Out of this well-worn guitar were coming out some incredible sounds at a rapid fire pace. The band was ridiculously tight. The drummer, (who I later learned is named Zambo, recently toured with the band Booby Trap) is highly energetic, cueing on the guitarist and anticipating the quick time changes. The bassist (Tara Dunn, has been with the band about a year, 15 years prior experience with several well known musicians/bands The Stitches, Marc Moreland -Wall of Voodoo fame) was model beautiful, and was dressed in a cocktail dress that would not look out of place at the Academy Awards. She was laying down grooves with a confidence as if she was born solely to lay down solid foundations.
I stood there with Mark and looked over at him and he had the biggest