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Courtesy of Micah Davidson
Micah Davidson, 34, grew up like a lot of aspiring musicians in Roanoke, playing music with friends and paying gigs with older musicians.
Saturday, May 11, 2013
There are all kinds of ways to make a life in the music business, and not all of them include playing music.
Micah Davidson, who grew up in Roanoke, is a good example of that. Today , Davidson is hanging out at a farm near Charlotte, N.C., where he is producing the North Carolina Brewers and Music Festival.
It’s a side gig from his regular job as a booking agent at the Charlotte-based Blue Mountain Artists agency, which books such acts as Acoustic Syndicate, Larry Keel and Natural Bridge, Hackensaw Boys, Tim Reynolds & TR3, Otis Taylor, Sons of Bill and The Lee Boys.
But putting on festivals is a passion that he cannot ignore.
It’s a few steps away from professional bass player, but it has worked out pretty naturally for Davidson — whose father, Larry Davidson, is president of the Roanoke-based clothing company that his family started in 1910.
Even so, it turned out to be a “dream come true that I didn’t realize I even had,” Micah Davidson said in a recent phone conversation from his office.
From gigging to booking
Davidson, 34, grew up like a lot of aspiring musicians in Roanoke, playing music with friends and getting paying gigs with older musicians. After graduation, he moved to Charleston, S.C., to study jazz bass at College of Charleston.
“Ironically, I failed out as a jazz bass major at College of Charleston,” he said.
Undaunted, he took to the road, playing 300 shows a year during one three-year stretch. One of those bands, Dead End Parking, made a couple of stops in Roanoke.
A lot of his gigs were around his adopted hometown, Charlotte, but he found himself disappointed at the lack of quality touring shows coming through that city. So Davidson started a nonprofit production company there to bring in bigger acts and get the area’s music lovers more involved.
“I sort of felt like I needed to do something like that, or I wasn’t allowed to complain anymore,” he said.
That led to a job promoting shows at the Double Door, a Charlotte landmark that has had the likes of Eric Clapton and Stevie Ray Vaughan on its stage during a nearly 40-year history. By the end of his five years there, he was the venue’s general manager, talent buyer and marketing director.
“It’s a pretty amazing place, and a pretty interesting place to cut your teeth on,” he said. “I hate to be all sentimental and stuff, but you can sort of feel the soul from everybody when you’re hanging around in there.”
Blue Mountain Artists owner Hugh Southard was impressed with Davidson, and hired him to book bands. Those jobs overlapped during Davidson’s last two years at the Double Door. In September, he will celebrate four years with the agency.
At Blue Mountain, Davidson represents one of his heroes, bass player George Porter, whose career began with The Meters (“Cissy Strut,” “Just Kissed My Baby”) and has included session work with a wide variety of performers, including Paul McCartney, David Byrne, Tori Amos and Taj Mahal.
“To this day, it still blows my mind, I still get goose bumps, whenever I look down at my phone and it’s George Porter Jr. calling me or when I get to call him and he answers the phone and says, ‘Hey, Micah.’
“When I used to be in a band touring, I used to tell our booking agent all the time that he was nuts, that there would be no way in the world that I would ever become an agent. And here I am three years later doing it with some of the most amazing artists in the world, and I can’t imagine doing anything else.”
Asking for tips
I plan to use this column more frequently to write about music industry people with Roanoke ties. Do you know one? E-mail me at email@example.com
Also, Davidson still plays bass occasionally, and you can hear the evidence on a podcast at blogs.roanoke.com/cutnscratch/?p=16275.
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