Joshua Davis has a vibrant role in the Michigan music community. He’s a co-founder of the band, "Stepping In It" has a robust solo career, and was an early contributor to Earthwork Music Collective as well as Harvest Gathering. Joshua shares stories of his early influences, what it’s like to come home and reconnect and the importance of building strong community. Josh also plays a couple tunes, including one from his upcoming album, The Way Back Home and another inspired from one of the first Harvest Gatherings.
The Drinks: Dragon’s Milk Bourbon Barrel Stout by New Holland Brewing
The Music: “Wealthy Street” © and courtesy of Drew Nelson on intro and outro, Joshua Davis performs “The Little Things” and “Bound for Glory” © and courtesy of Joshua Davis.
Joshua Davis was raised in the folk tradition: the music, the social movements, the land. He writes songs that blend the roots of American music with gritty rock n’ roll and vintage soul. Performing Songwriter Magazine called the result, "Some of the liveliest and most rocking roots music around.
For over 15 years Joshua has made his living sharing his songs, stories and knowledge across the US and Canada at festivals, concert halls, coffeehouses and dives – as a solo act, front man for roots ensemble "Steppin’ In It", classic swing band "Shout Sister Shout", songwriter showcase band "The Starlight Six" and frequently as a workshop facilitator, presenter or instructor.
His music is steeped in ragtime blues, sweet jazz and real country but Davis’s broad schooling in the cultural, political and musical roots of American tradition has resulted in more than a simple retelling of universal themes. Dubbed, "the Michigan version of the Great American Songscape" (Chris Reitz, Elderly Instruments), his catalog is a seamless snapshot of American past and present. Joshua has shared stages with a diverse list of luminaries, such as Tim O’Brien, Greg Brown, The Indigo Girls, Leftover Salmon, The Dixie Hummingbirds, Corey Harris, John Gorka, Jeff Daniels, Ellis Paul, The Blind Boys of Alabama, Jimmy LaFave, Ray Bonneville, Arlo Guthrie, Abigail Washburn, Larry McCray, Sunny Wilkinson, Catie Curtis, Bill Kirchen, Peter "Madcat" Ruth, Bernie Leadon, Wayne Hancock, The Verve Pipe, John Hammond, Pete Seeger and Preservation Hall Jazz Band.
Davis has released three critically acclaimed solo albums, five albums with Steppin’ In It, a record of jazz standards with Shout Sister Shout, and has appeared on too many albums to count. His most recent album, "A Miracle of Birds" is inspired by his travels in the Palestinian West Bank with non-profit organization On the Ground. About the album, Revue magazine says, "His heartfelt documentation of 'people as people' offers up compassionate songs of hope, darkness and perseverance."
Joshua has performed live on the internationally syndicated programs Mountain Stage, Woodsongs Old-Time Radio Hour and Backstage Pass. His songs have been featured on NPR’s All Songs Considered, Folk Alley and The Mix and he has played scores of prestigious festivals and venues not to mention every festival Michigan has to offer.
His music receives regular airplay across the US and has been heard in at least 180 countries. His records have consistently appeared on major independent and free-format radio charts. Among other honors, "Fool Rooster" earned the album of the year slot from Progressive Torch and Twang, a cult favorite Americana show on WDBM, "Magnolia Belles" won Americana album of the year from WYCE, "Simple Tunes for Troubled Times" was one of Folk Alley’s best albums of 2009 and Shout Sister Shout’s "Hit That Jive" reached #1 on the Roots Music Report jazz chart and was the longest charting jazz album of that year.
Davis has gained recognition as an enthusiastic and successful songwriting and guitar instructor and folk historian. He has studied under greats such as Guy Clark, Steve Earle, John Hartford, Greg Brown, Tim O’Brien, Lyle Lovett, Michael Smith, and Tom Paxton and Dr. Bruce Conforth as well as Bela Fleck, Casey Driessen, and Roy Book Binder.
Joshua is a respected producer and has built a small but excellent home studio, pointing to his work with Grammy and Oscar winning producers and audio engineers Glenn Brown, Sally Van Meter and David Glasser.
Josh is especially interested in the ways in which music brings individuals and communities together, to foster peace and understanding. He's noticed that songs can re-soundtrack people's lives and peoples' lives too. In February of 2012, he travelled to Palestine and Israel with non-profit org On the Ground to participate as "cultural emissary" in the Run Across Palestine, a fund raising ultra-marathon in support of fair trade farming communities in the West Bank.
Davis has just released “A Miracle of Birds”, an album inspired by his experience in the Holy Land. Half of the proceeds will mean olive trees and educational scholarships for the farmers and families he encountered during his travels. The songs are deeply personal and deal with his struggle between his Jewish identity and the oppression and confusion he found in the Middle East. Josh brings a unique program to schools and communities that combines his music and stories about the trip as well as club dates with a world-class six-piece band.
His greatest honor as a writer came recently when the Michigan Historical Museum recognized his work in "Put It On Paper", an exhibit examining the creative process alongside legendary creative minds such as Ernest Hemingway and Laura Ingalls-Wilder.
He lives in Traverse City, Michigan with his lovely and brilliant wife, daughter and new son.
Our first ever live-podcast happened during the Harvest Gathering 2016 at Earthwork Farm in Lake City, Michigan. A three day celebration of music and community, the Harvest Gathering is like nothing else. Earthwork is home of the Bernard family farm as well as the Earthwork Music Collective. My first guest on Friday was May Erlewine Bernard. She is a remarkable musician and sweetheart to boot. We met in “Maddie’s Circle”, which hosted workshops throughout the weekend. It was a tranquil scene on log benches with warm conversation and kind souls.
The Drinks: Incorrigible White Sour Ale
“Wealthy Street” © and courtesy of Drew Nelson for Podcast intro and outro, May performs, Wild, and Sweet Days © and courtesy of May Erlewine
May Erlewine comes from a family of artists and musicians. Early on she was exposed to music (and people) of all kinds. May was home-educated, came up singing and while still just a teenager hitchhiked all across North America playing in small and large towns, riding freight trains, and busking on the streets. In her travels May Erlewine came to know the land and the pulse of the people. Her songs show a very real connection and concern with everyday folk.
I had a great time welcoming several collaborators from our upcoming Rocktoberfest to the brewery and podcast. We’re really proud of this event and everyone’s generous spirit and ongoing efforts towards quality. It’s a light hearted group that takes their work seriously, without taking themselves too seriously. It was a learning curve to mic five guests without a tech on hand, so I hope you an pardon some atypical audio challenges. Those issues aside, I think you’ll enjoy an engaging conversation with passionate folks I’m glad to know, and call friends.
Episode 20 - The Details
The Drinks: New Holland’s Macatawa Stout, Uncle Bert’s Red Lager
The Music: “Wealthy Street” © and courtesy of Drew Nelson
Ken Estelle is CEO of Feeding America West Michigan. He joined the organization after a 30-year career in the aerospace industry and firmly believes that hunger can be solved. Feeding America West Michigan works with hundreds of local farmers, retailers, and processors to provide food to half a million people in need each year.
Dale Beaubien, Culinary Director for New Holland Brewing, has been working in restaurants on and off since he was sixteen. After studying at Northern Michigan University, he devoted himself to his culinary education by working in some of the most educationally advantageous kitchens. He’s worked alongside several James Beard Award-nominated chefs and spent some time as an adjunct faculty member in the culinary department at Secchia Center for Culinary Studies, to pay some of that knowledge forward. He is fascinated by the traditions, seasonality and purity of food and drink, spending his free time outdoors and vinyl record collecting.
Mark Schrock is a lifelong roots/rock/Americana musician who has been active in the Michigan music community since 1974. He currently plays guitar and mandolin with his sons Jasen and Andrew in the Schrock Bros; works as a bassist with Grammy award winner and harmonica wizard Peter Madcat Ruth; is a multi-instrumentalist with Red House Records artist Drew Nelson, and sings and plays swing guitar with Jive At Five. He also co-owns and direct the music program and Salt of the Earth, a farm to table restaurant and entertainment venue in Fennville MI.
Steve Berthel has been a professional brewer in the state of Michigan for twenty years. Steve has been co-owner of two breweries, Kraftbrau and The Livery, prior to joining New Holland Brewing in 2012 as the Pub Brewer. Steve has dreamed of brewing beers with all Michigan grown ingredients, and has made that dream reality within New Hollan’ds Pub on 8th in Holland, MI. Steve has worked closely with growers, maltsters and Michigan State University Extension Services to achieve this goal.
Matthew Is a twenty plus year veteran in the restaurant scene in West Michigan. While in the kitchen at his Journeyman and Rye restaurants in Fennville, he developed personal relationships with the growers and producers of the region which he cultivated vigorously until the restaurants closed.
He maintained this habit of sourcing locally to unearth and define the regional character of West Michigan cooking as chef at New Holland Brewing Company in Holland,Michigan, and Reserve, a high end wine bar in Grand Rapids until he left to pursue opening a new restaurant in his home community near Lake Michigan. Matthew, who grew up in Michigan, has roots in east Tennessee and has had a life long passion for the cooking traditions of the American south. His newest project, The Southerner, celebrates these traditions with a little influence from the north.
Matthew is a two time James Beard Award semi finalist for Best Chef: Great Lakes, honored in the peer reviewed guide Best Chefs In America in 2012, and also authors the food blog Post Agricultural Acts. He lives in Fennville, Michigan with his wife, Amy Cook.
Fred Bueltmann, aka “The Beervangelist,” is an owner of New Holland Brewing, where he serves as Vice President of Brand and Lifestyle. He is a nationally recognized expert on pairing beer and food, and a Certified Cicerone®. Bueltmann is past president of the Michigan Brewers Guild and recipient of their prestigious “Tom Burns Award” recognizing the pioneering spirit of the “Great Beer State.” Fred serves as a judge for the Brewer’s Association’s Great American Beer Festival and World Beer Cup. His first book, “Beervangelist’s Guide to the Galaxy” is a seasonal tome on pairing, cooking and hosting with craft beer, and was recognized as an Indie Book Award finalist. Fred hosts and produces New Holland’s “Stop & Taste Conversations” podcast, and speaks to audiences large and small around the country, which has included serving as 2013 Keynote Speaker for the Michigan Restaurant Association and TedX Macatawa in 2015.