With the exception of perhaps Mike Muir and Suicidal Tendencies, it’s hard to think of many artists who can thank Pepsi for helping to launch their musical career. For Muir, the drink was referenced in Suicidal’s early ’80s breakthrough song “Institutionalized,” in which the singer rants about being hassled by his parents when all he wanted was a Pepsi.
In New Jersey-bred Honky Tonk singer/songwriter Moot Davis’ case, it was the soundtrack to a commercial from the soda giant that sparked his love for (and eventual mastery of) traditional Country music.
“The delivery man is wheeling [soft drinks] into a store, and as he’s putting in his product, he sees the opposing product and goes and grabs one,” Davis told NPR about the unusual inspiration.
“And then, ‘Your Cheatin’ Heart’ by Hank Williams starts playing. It just mesmerized me — it changed everything.”
Davis took his ace Honky Tonk stylings to Lucky Dog Records for a pair of albums, but was unhappy with the experience. Feeling stuck in his contract, he considered retiring from music. Luckily for fans of traditional-style Country, Davis was granted release from the contract, after which he formed his own imprint (Crow Town Records) and released his magnificent 2011 album, Man About Town. Man’s soulful songs made it stand up against the best LPs of Dwight Yoakam, an artist with whom Davis shares several qualities.Davis’ career got back on track with Man About Town, leading to regular touring and song placements in numerous TV shows and movies. Davis returned to the studio last year with Man About Town producer Kenny Vaughan (who has played guitar with Marty Stuart and Lucinda Williams, among others) to create his fourth full-length, Goin’ in Hot. Written on the heals of a tough break-up and partly inspired by reading Keith Richards’ autobiography (Davis used Richards’ “open G” tuning style to write several of the rockers), the new album is said to be more rootsy “Roadhouse Rock” than Honky Tonk, though trad Country music still plays a role. The album is scheduled for release in April.
MOOT DAVIS performs Saturday, Jan. 25, at Newport's Southgate House Revival. Find tickets and more info here.