Most important decisions in life are group consultations with that faint little voice in your head and that indescribable sensation in your stomach. For South Florida blues/rock/roots trio Shaw Davis & The Black Ties, an internal conference call helped their leading man dramatically alter his existence, with locals getting a chance to see how prescient his instincts were with a St. Patrick’s Day performance at JV’s Restaurant this Sunday.
Before we go any further, you may wonder why you should give 23-year-old Shaw Davis your time on what is easily one of the most communal nights of the year. A quick YouTube search will clear up that hesitation. Fair warning: After pressing play you may be transported to another world — mentally, that is. When you come to, you could find yourself wearing a headband you don’t own, have grown a goatee to an artsy-but-not-scruffy length and you might even be able to nail that Robert Plant impersonation you’ve always wanted to (well, at least for someone who’ll never sniff Plant’s curly mane).
In short, Davis, along with drummer Bobby Van Stone and bassist Patrick Stevenson, just plain rock. But Davis wasn’t supposed to be here. He comes from a family of athletes, so when he accepted a baseball scholarship to Troy University, he was expected to continue that lineage. A love for the guitar that blossomed during his reclusive time away from the diamond gave Davis other ideas, despite his family’s through-line of sports love.
“When my parents came to visit me I played some guitar for them and told them about my desire to leave school,” Davis said. “It wasn’t easy telling my parents I wanted to ditch a college scholarship, form a band and hit the road, but everything smoothed out over time.”
South Florida’s culture would appear to take on the neon-tinted extravagance its largest city — Miami — emits, making it seem that anything resembling rock thriving around there a slim reality. But Davis describes the region’s appreciation for his brand of music as undersold. From Albert Castiglia to Drew Preston to jams at The Funky Biscuit, South Florida keeps the mainstays of its eclectic genre alive. Covers of Jimi Hendrix, Cream, Stevie Ray Vaughn and, yes, Led Zeppelin fill the air of what Davis believes is one of the most unique blues/rock/roots scenes in the country.
Original music is also a big part South Florida’s rock, with Davis & The Black Ties doing their part to contribute. The group’s “vintage, heavy blues rock sound” isn’t perfect, according to Davis, but is also why he thinks it can connect with people’s souls better. The trio started writing songs as soon as they formed in the end of 2016/beginning of 2017 and released their self-titled album in June of that year. Last February they released their second work, Alive from Legacy, to continue building momentum as music creators.
One area that may challenge the group is the mainstream of music tastes. You’d be hard-pressed to find anyone in the neighborhood of the band’s sound on the Billboard Top 100, verifying Gene Simmons’ nearly five-year-old declaration that “Rock is finally dead.” Shaw, however, does believe that even if it doesn’t have a massive stake in everyday earbuds, the following is still there — and is strong.
“It can make it harder because it’s not as relevant, but it’s also good because the people who are into it are really into it, and search hard for it,” Davis said. “I always hear people say, ‘Keep the blues alive,’ but it’s thriving, it’s nowhere near dead, you just gotta look.”
Shaw Davis & The Black Ties will be performing at JV’S Restaurant (6666 Arlington Blvd., Falls Church) on Sunday, March 17 at 8:30 p.m.