Traverse City Record-Eagle

Arts & Entertainment

March 14, 2014

Joshua Davis’ musical journey continues

It’s all about the journey for singer-songwriter Joshua Davis.

The award-winning Michigan musician has experienced more than his share of those treks the past few years, from traveling to the West Bank for a life-changing odyssey that inspired a compelling studio album to relocating to Traverse City from Lansing.

“It has been a big transition, but very exciting and energizing,” said Davis, who teaches at Traverse City’s Blackbird Arts in addition to performing every Thursday night at Workshop Brewing Co. with Joe Wilson. “My family and I have a huge community up here. I’m still traveling around the state quite a bit for gigs, but it’s great to be up here full-time.”

The guitarist and singer is well known for his solo projects, as well as work with the Lansing roots music group Steppin’ In It. And last month he won a Jammie Award for best roots album of the year from Grand Rapids community radio station WYCE-FM for his 2013 recording, “A Miracle of Birds.”

The 12 songs on Davis’ third solo album exude passionate folk-, Americana- and rock-hued explorations of oppression, human struggles and, most of all, hope, sparked by the musician’s trip to the West Bank for the Run Across Palestine in support of fair-trade olive farmers in the region.

The five-day, 129-mile ultra-marathon over severe terrain was organized by the nonprofit group On the Ground. It gave the Jewish-American songwriter a chance to see both sides of the conflict that’s long ensnared the region. He also shared “a little bit of Michigan in songs and stories” with folks along the way, while observing the emergence of a “strong non-violent protest movement.”

Davis “soaked up a lot of stories from that trip” to inspire his album. And he set aside some biases about a conflict that’s shaded in gray.

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