Five Firsts: Jed Davis
NAME: Jed Davis
BAND AFFILIATION: solo, Sevendys, the Hanslick Rebellion, Skyscape, probably others
1. THE FIRST ALBUM I EVER BOUGHT WAS … When I was a very very little kid – I’m talking like two or three years old – we had a family friend who used to babysit me. She brought me into Brooklyn fairly often, where we would hang out with her buddies Leo and Peter. These dudes ran what they called a “record store,” but it was out the back of a truck, so in retrospect I suppose they might have been fencing records. They’d occasionally give me singles, which I kept in a little 45 carrying-case that was blue with white daisies on it. This was mostly stuff like Debby Boone and Nick Gilder… looking back, I have to assume it was product they couldn’t get rid of otherwise. I do remember Leo and Peter getting me a copy of Dan Hartman’s “Instant Replay” by request – so though I didn’t technically buy it, that was the first record I acquired of my own free will. Similarly, the first full album I considered “mine” was also not purchased, but appropriated: a copy of “Sgt. Pepper” my parents brought back with them from my dad’s naval tour of duty somewhere or other. The packaging was all in Spanish, so I only knew the album as “La Banda del Club de Corazones Solitarios del Sargento Pepper.”
2. THE FIRST CONCERT THAT I EVER SAW WAS … Kiss at Madison Square Garden, 1979. It was my fourth birthday present, and believe me, unlike the “cool parents” of today, my folks did NOT want a little rock and roller in their home. They thought of it as something like taking me to the circus. I remember riding the Long Island Rail Road into the city, and almost everyone on it was wearing Kiss makeup. Even dudes with beards!
3. THE FIRST MUSICAL INSTRUMENT I EVER OWNED OR PLAYED WAS … There was a piano in my parents’ house. I wrote my first song on it – that would be “Music,” a song about how awesome music is. Then, as soon as I had a little money saved up, I bought a Casio keyboard with speakers and adorable little drum pads. Even after all this, I was confused when none of the local metal kids would let me join their band.
4. THE FIRST SONG THAT I EVER PERFORMED IN PUBLIC WAS … They Might Be Giants’ “Ana Ng” with Skyscape at a house party, March of 1992. Our singer, Dom, read the lyrics off a sheet of paper. Come to think of it, he did that for the entire set.
5. THE FIRST BAND I WAS EVER IN WAS … There were four, depending on your definitions of “band,” “ever” and “in.”
The first was imaginary: I went to this kid Joey Aversano’s house to “jam” with three other third-graders on toy instruments. We would “play along” with Kiss and Def Leppard records, and occasionally “write” a song by changing the lyrics of something on one of those records. For example, “Rock! Rock! Till You Drop” became “Rockin! Rockin! Till You’re Poppin.”
The second was theoretical: When we were 13, a group of pubescent neighborhood metalheads decided to start a band called the Rapists. I didn’t know what a “rapist” was, and I wanted in. They said I could write songs for them, but not play keyboards because keys would make them a “poseur group.” As far as I know, no actual music ever got played; these guys’ idea of being in a rock band mostly involved hanging out at a local sump smoking cigarettes. One day my mother asked me if I wanted to be a therapist when I grew up, because she saw “THERAPISTS” written all over my notebooks. I know that’s an SNL joke, but my mom unintentionally made it first.
The third was wishful: Some nerdy high school friends of mine who really, really wanted to be in a band came over with instruments they didn’t know how to play yet, and we jammed on “Baba O’Riley” for two hours. I played a drum kit I’d borrowed from my cousin Larry, who had been in a late ’70s Long Island cover band called ORION. At some point, Larry had lost the kick pedal, hi-hat and snare, so I just used whatever was left. I have a recording of this.
The fourth was Skyscape, which started in 1992 and is still together today. We put out an album every ten years or so; the third one is almost done!
The prolific Jed Davis will play a “solo punk piano” show at the Hudson River Coffee House in Albany at 8pm on Saturday in support of his brand new live album, “Live At CB’s Gallery.” Opening the show is David Schulman, followed by Matt Durfee (8:45pm).