My evening of concert photography started out like any other until I ran into Greg Sims, manager for both Martha Davis and The Motels and Parlee. He asked me if I would like to go backstage and talk with Ms. Davis. Of course I jumped at the chance to have a conversation backstage where Martha Davis was relaxing with a smoke in one hand and a glass of red wine in the other.
So what did we talk about? That was the great part; we talked less about CDs, tour dates, or the 36 year history of the Motels. Songwriting and farming in Portland are the things that Martha enjoys.
Martha loves her 72 acre farm. She finds solace and relaxation there. She lamented that the slugs and the weeds take over every time she leaves for long periods of time. We laughed as she told me about the times she rushed from the stage, threw on her country gear, and raced off to the farm. Martha can also be seen farming in her rocker gear from time to time. Bassist Brady Wills said that Martha is an awesome cook and that she loves to cook for her friends at her farm.
So what is Martha’s other great love? Songwriting…
Martha has been writing jazz songs, country songs, and kids’ songs for years. Martha said her first love is writing and that she is a singer by accident. She told me that writing music is what she has always done and it is something that she will always do. I asked Martha if she collaborates with any one, and she said she does.
Davis writes and collaborates with Teatro ZinZanni. I’m not sure why I was so surprised about that because she has a perfect voice for the theater. In the past, Martha worked with many artists including Sly Stone and Ivan Neville.
Later in the conversation Martha stated that the Motels play the Whiskey a Go-Go in L.A. on January 19th, the 50th anniversary of the infamous club. January 19th just happens to be both Martha’s and Greg’s birthdays.
After the interview, the Motels took the stage to a very excited crowd. The Motels’ original sax player, Marty Jourard, joined the band on sax and keyboards .
Martha has a wonderfully smoky, passionate voice that can sing rock or soulful jazz. Davis seems like a very positive person who refers to herself as a very lucky but naughty girl who is having the time of her life. It’s clear from seeing the interaction with the other band members that they all feel they are having the time of their lives. They all seem to have so much fun and it was infectious for the passionate crowd.
Jason, a very long time fan, who knew and sang every word to every song, was so into it that Brady Wills made a point of bringing it up during a conversation with Jason after the show. Jason told me that he has been a rabid fan since he was in 8th grade. That is high praise for any musician with a history like Martha’s.
I didn’t really know much about Parlee, the Motels’ opening band, except that I liked them. They had a very nice sound which wasn’t easy given the 19 hour drive to Seattle from L.A. Richard Parlee explained that they had to switch off driving all the way up from L.A. to make the show. While he was telling me that I imagined many a great band getting their start that way.
Richard Parlee did a great job of fronting the band and Rebecca Silveyra was equally as charismatic on the violin. The band seems to be centered on them with the others in strong support. As they say in sports, stars don’t make a team, a team makes a team. That is the case with Parlee. Parlee will be playing the Whiskey with the Motels on January 19th.
Photographer/Reporter: John Rudolph