September 15, 2015 Dave Davies says there is something about playing for an appreciative crowd that invigorates him. Charged after a series of live shows in late 2014 to support his latest studio album, “Rippin’ Up Time,” Davies is about to hit the road again in support of the just-issued “Rippin’ Up New York City: Live at the City Winery,” recorded at the venue last November.
“That’s a special place and we had a great crowd on both nights,” Davies told me in a phone interview last week. “I was excited about ‘Rippin’ Up Time’ and playing those songs live. It’s different playing live. It suggests things, and with a good audience, it can be a great night.”
The 15-track album features live takes on songs from “Rippin’ Up Time” along with Kinks classics and fan favorites.
“Live gigs are special,” Davies says. “It’s great to be able to get up and play the songs you have in your head for an appreciative audience. The songs take on a new life. I really like the live recordings on ‘Rippin’ up New York City.’ For me, the songs take on new meaning.”
Is Davies ever surprised that so many fans are still Kink-crazy nearly 20 years after the band played their last show? “Yeah, it makes me a wonder a bit,” he said laughing. “I wonder what it’s all about but it’s great to see so much enthusiasm - not just from people my age but from a lot of younger people and people of all ages.”
On any respectable list of rock’s most influential guitarists, you’ll find Dave Davies alongside Jimi Hendrix, Eric Clapton, Chuck Berry and James Burton, among others. I asked Dave if he is a self-taught guitarist.
“Oh yeah, self-taught. Well, really I wasn’t self-taught but inspired by all of those people that you mentioned, and I’ll add a few: Eddie Cochran, John Lee Hooker and Big Bill Broonzy. They were all big influences on me. It was their attitude, their style of playing and just their whole ‘thing’ that got me. As a kid and still (today), I hear music in my head and I’ll play it. I don’t know where it comes from, but I’m glad it’s there (laughs).”
Of the original Kinks lineup, Ray, Dave and drummer Mick Avory are still with us. Bassist Pete Quaife died in 2010 and is fondly remembered by Dave Davies. “I loved him. He was really an unsung member and really helped me in my bond with music. He was a great musician himself, and the three of us (Ray, Dave and Pete) really galvanized at school. Of course, Mick joined later. That period of the ’60s was a very inspiring time.”
Recent years have seen the release of lovingly-crafted deluxe reissues of the band’s ’60s catalog followed by a four-disc anthology full of hits and rarities in 2014 to mark the 50th anniversary of “You Really Got Me.” Rumors of a Kinks reunion have been floated by both Davies brothers over the years, but nothing has materialized.
Unsure of the current state of relations between rock’s most notorious battling siblings, I ask Dave if Ray had offered comment on “Rippin’ Up Time,” since many of the songs were inspired by Dave’s memories of a pre-fame time when things were good between the two. “I don’t know if Ray ever even bothered to hear it,” he responds, chuckling.
If Ray and Dave were to sit down and come to a reunion agreement, who would Dave like to see drafted for bass duties?
“I have no idea,” he responds. “I don’t know, but it’s a good question. I’ll have to talk to Ray about that if and when it happens. They’re not an easy pair of shoes to fill, I’ll tell you (laughs).” I mention that The Kinks have been blessed with excellent bass players over the years, beginning with Quaife. “Oh yeah, no question,” Davies says. “Jim Rodford and John Dalton were great musicians and great people too.”
Davies says that a Kinks reunion is still possible. “I’m not an odds-maker, but if me and Ray can get together before Christmas, we’ll see.”
While most of Davies’s upcoming tour will be based in New England, he does have one “old England” concert planned for London on Dec. 18. Perhaps a Davies Christmas Kink summit is in the air.
During their 30-plus year career, The Kinks played in Maine three times. I asked Davies if any particular Maine memory stands out for him. He says that the years, venues and miles kind of blur together, but he recalls a night in May 1990, when The Kinks played Bowdoin College. Following the show, The Davies brothers went on a bit of a pub crawl in Portland’s Old Port district.
“It’s a nice place, isn’t it?” he said looking back. “I was thinking that maybe I should move there or retire there. Portland has a quaintness, kind of like a lot of English country places. I say ‘retire’ as if that will ever happen (laughing).”
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