The "Memphis sound" has always escaped a simple definition. Diversity and individuality characterize the musical tradition of the city that gave the world Beale Street, Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, the Blues, Sun Studio, B.B. King, Rock ‘n’ Roll and W.C. Handy.
Jimmy Davis is no exception to this rule. This versatile singer-songwriter, named "Premier Male Vocalist" five times by the Memphis Chapter of the National Academy of Recording Arts & Sciences, knows no boundaries when it comes to musical styles. Influences range from The Beatles to the Eagles, Johnny Cash and Gram Parsons to Jackson Browne. His songs have been recorded by Martina McBride, Restless Heart, Joy White, Johnny Rivers, as well as many other independent artists. Davis has appeared as a backing vocalist on numerous recordings by artists such as Johnny Lang, former Eagle Bernie Leadon, Danny Tate, Eric Gales, William Lee Golden, Mark Collie, Keith Sykes, Iris DeMent, Cory Branan, Susan Marshall, John Eddie, and the late Toy Caldwell. But it’s Jimmy’s charisma, warmth and talent as a performer that make him stand out among his well known peers.
Jimmy started his career in 1987 with the QMI/MCA debut release Kick the Wall by Jimmy Davis & Junction. The title song and first single “Kick the Wall” was a top 40 AOR hit as well as an MTV hit video. The group was known for its live appearances as a tight, loud, rock-n-roll band and toured all over America.
In 1996, Davis, with guitarist and Junction bandmate Tommy Burroughs, re-formed The Riverbluff Clan, a renowned Memphis rockin'-country-bluegrass outfit from the ‘70's. The band released two critically acclaimed independent CDs. The live album One Night in a Month of Sundays was heralded for its "hybrid vigor," while the studio CD Two Quarts Low was called a "genre-bending romp through bluegrass, country and country-tinged rock". It garnered a top 20 spot on the Gavin Americana chart and the song “Two Quarts Low” was even covered by RBC favorite John Cowan. The Clan also appeared in the award winning independent film The Poor & Hungry, directed by Craig Brewer (Hustle and Flow), performing Davis' "Honeysuckle and Kudzu."
In 2004, Jimmy made his solo debut with a CD of self-penned songs entitled Jimmy Daddy's Acoustic Song List. Songs like "Grandmother's Quilt," "Devil's Den," "I Gotta Roll" and "Waiting in the Wings" honor every style of music Davis has ever approached. The Commercial Appeal called it "an unassuming triumph and as honest a record as you're likely to hear."
March of 2006 brought Campfire Songs to the world. The record was produced by Jimmy and recorded at Sounds Unreel in Memphis by Dawn Hopkins. It features Jack Holder, Tommy Burroughs, Jim Dickinson, Reba Russell, Alvin Youngblood Hart, Susan Marshall, Richard Bailey, Cowboy Eddie Long and the River Bluff Clan. Campfire Songs paints a cohesive and evocative picture by bringing together songs written throughout Jimmy's career. "I always wanted to make this record but I just didn't have enough songs that fit the concept,” Jimmy says. “It has literally taken me 25 years to get the right mix. "Tennessee" was written in Germany when I was 19 on a USO Tour and "Death Ridge" was written while recording the album in 2004." As the title implies, some songs were actually written around the campfire on hiking and camping trips. Bluegrass and country, stories and hauntings, it's all here.
Around this time he also produced tracks for Giant Bear. The song "Nashville" was included on the Paiste Sampler.
2008 saw the release of BEAGLES The Blue Album, a record of home demos with Jimmy playing all instruments. H was encouraged by engineer Dawn Hopkins to release it "as is". It is a fun album that Jimmy describes as, " If the Beatles and Eagles made a record and let me sing..." It also f eatures the George Harrison inspired "Morning Glory."
The newest release is Jimmy Daddy's Acoustic Songlist Volume II. Recorded at the late Jim Dickinson's Zebra Ranch in one day by Dawn Hopkins. It might be the most personal Jimmy Daddy record to date. With just vocal and guitar, it features songs about life on the road and the distance of family and home. Included here are "Miss" (previously covered by the Mystiqueros), "Leaving Texas Again" and "That Was Us".
As a singer and writer, the last few years have been packed with background vocals on the North Mississippi Allstars' GRAMMY nominated "Electric Blue Watermelon" and "Hernando" and Jim Dickinson's "Jungle Jim and the VooDoo Tiger" and "Killers From Space", William Lee Ellis's "God's Tattoo", Keith Sykes's "Let It Roll", and Michael Hearne's "Life in America" to name a few. Reba Russell recorded Jimmy's song "Sister Friend" on her album Broke Down But Not Out where he also played guitar and sang. He also appears on her record "8". The two have been known to sing together as the Hoot Owls.
Texas has recently discovered Jimmy Daddy as a songwriter, as well. Brad Hines out of Fort Worth recorded "Watching the Fire Burn Down" with Jimmy singing. Tommy Alverson does a truly country version of "Waiting in the Wings" that is a Texas favorite.
A beautiful take on "Miss" rendered by Walt Wilkins and the Mystiqueros was included on their album Agave and sung by Bill Small. Now when Jimmy is in Texas, you can catch him performing with the Mystiqueros. In addition, The Trishas, the all woman group from Austin with a Memphis connection in Kelley Mickwee, performs "Against the Grain" with stellar four part harmony.
Jimmy also scored the title cut on Tina Mitchell Wilkins' latest CD Morning Glory.
Whether fronting a rock band, providing a soundtrack for an Oscar-winning film-maker, or picking his guitar around a campfire, Jimmy Davis continues his musical journey and the emerging legacy of a new Memphis sound.