Frequently Asked Questions
Q: Where can I see you perform?
A: For a list of public performances or festivals Davis will be appearing at, see upcoming tour dates. If you wish, you can also sample one of the school programs to see if they are right for your classes.
Q: What kinds of programs do you do?
A: Davis does single, double and triple assemblies plus workshops, mostly for students. See program descriptions. Occasionally he also does performances for historical societies or other venues.
Q: What kind of audiences are your programs suited for?
A: Students from kindergarten to graduate school, PTAs, other musicians, festivals, and radio.
Q: How did you get interested in music?
A: My grandmother was a concert pianist. She died when I was two, but our family had her piano, and I took piano lessons until I was 13. When I retired from piano playing I had achieved a level of magnificent mediocrity.
Q: When were you first exposed to "old time music"?
A: At a school program. Then when I was in 7th grade, I met Frank Warner who did a school program. He introduced me to a lot of old time musicians. (See liner notes for Some Fabulous Yonder.) His wife later gave me a fiddle handmade by a mountain man.
Q: Who were your most important musical influences?
A: A man named Mike Seeger (Pete Seeger's younger half brother), Frank Warner, Frank Proffit (a banjo maker and mountain man), a Nova Scotia singer named Fred Redden, an old banjo player Dock Boggs, and a banjo player named Clarence Ashley, an Irish singer and guitarist Paul Brady, a Kentucky singer Jean Ritchie, and an Arkansas ballad singer Almeda Riddle.
Q: What instruments do you play in your programs?
A: Primarily fiddle, banjo, mandocello, guitar, spoons, jaw’s harps and several handmade instruments.
Q: What is your favorite instrument?
A: My desert island instrument is the banjo - if I could just take one - because you can play it, sing with it, and use it as a weapon. The instruments I play the most, because it is so difficult, is the fiddle.
Q: How long did it take you to learn how to make a limberjack dance?
A: Try it and see - you can learn the basics in a few minutes.
Q: What is "old time" or traditional music anyway?
A: . The other elements are (generalizing broadly) that I'm most interested in are:
1) there is an oral tradition of music being passed from hand to hand and mouth to mouth. It's like a giant national game of telephone.
2) comes from working people like miners, farmers and sailors
3) the oldest and rarest stuff comes from singers in isolated communities.
4) usually preserved by people living in poverty. People with money can buy sheet music, records, hire musicians, have pianos and play up-to-date songs.
Q: How many states have you been to?
Q: How do you play a jew's harp/jaw harp/jaw's harp and where can I get one?
A: (Jeff provides a brief lesson during school programs.) Music stores often carry them, but they may not be good quality. Museum shops like Old Sturbridge Village may also carry them. A good quality one might run about $25. An Ozark harp is the best inexpensive kind. Of course shops won't let you try them out, because that would not be sanitary.
Q:Were you in the NFL?
A: That is a different Jeff Davis, who played for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers . I am also not Jeff Davis the comedian, Jeff Davis the jazz drummer, Geoff Davis the Congressman, the author of Criminal Minds, or the former Governor of Arkansas. My full name is Jeffrey W. Davis.