Ward Davis at the Troubadour
Photos and words by Matt Stasi
Perennial road warrior Ward Davis rambled on down the interstate this past Saturday night to take the stage at the legendary venue the Troubadour in West Hollywood. Along for direct support were crooner Clint Park (who later stepped in and handled bass guitar duties for Ward) and the always powerhouse sounds of California Country Rocker, Pearl & The Canyon Revelry Band. The energy was palpable very early on as the line grew around the corner with already ‘spirited’ Davis fans anxious to catch their man on stage.
First up is Clint Park. As a late addition to the lineup, Park expresses how humbled he is to be playing the historic venue. With a voice that resonates beautifully with a raspy growl, Park’s brand of country is soulful and from the heart. It’s immediately understood that there will be no popcorn country in store for the night.
Next up is is the powerful vocals of Pearl and her well oiled band The Canyon Revelry Band. Their first offering is “All I Got (Gina’s Song)” from their album Heartbreak & Canyon Revelry. Joel Martin’s peddle steel haunts us as Pearl floats around the stage in an almost angelic, ethereal fashion. Another crowd favorite is “Worth Defending”. Jim Wilson and Zachary Throne are a sight to see as they trade off ripping guitar riffs.
A big highlight of the night for Pearl and her crew was their rendition of the Fleetwood Mac classic, “The Chain”. As well known as this tune is it can’t be an easy one to pull off. But they did just that in amazing fashion, sending fists high in the air. They end the night on a big high note with an epic version of “Mama”, leaving fans chanting for more.
After a brief intermission filled with outlaw country classics Ward Davis finally takes the stage in an easy-going, unassuming fashion. Keeping his average somewhere in the 250 shows a year range this is, in fact, not Ward’s first rodeo. But tonight was different. Having always dreamt of playing the Troubadour, it was going to be a special night to be able to grace that stage. And as Ward expressed, “I’ve got nothing going on tomorrow so what’s a little extra hangover gonna hurt.”
No time was wasted as he blasts into a rowdy version of “Get to Work Whiskey”. This tune proved to be prophetic as at any time during the set you would find no less than three whiskey drinks lined up within Ward’s reach.
One of the many highlights was when Ward took to the ivories with “I’m Not the Devil”, a song he wrote with pal Cody Jinks. Like the greats before him, Ward has a gift of telling a story with his voice in a way that makes you feel as though you’ve been there before. This was very much the case as he poured out a heartfelt version of the Merle Haggard/ Willie Nelson tune “Unfair Weather Friend.” Things ramped up a notch when Ward gave the crowd a friendly reminder with “Don’t Forget to Get Stoned.” Clint Park traded off on vocals with Ward on a pitch perfect rendition of the Waylon Jennings classic, “Are You Sure Hank Done It This Way”.
As an encore, Ward came out by himself on the keys to play a version of the Eagles classic “Desperado” that the best way I could possibly describe it would be as ‘the best cover of that song I’ve ever heard’. Beautiful, haunting. A fitting tribute to an amazing night of music.
Ward Davis is on the road pretty much indefinitely so you have no excuse not to get out and check out his act. So do yourself a favor, pour a stiff one(s), call in sick to work tomorrow, and get out to see him when he comes to your area. A complete list of his upcoming tour dates can be found here: https://www.warddavismusic.com