Ashley Davis describes herself as a “porous” musician. She finds inspiration by hearing people’s stories and the way they verbalize their emotions—a process in which she says she sees a lot of beauty.
A fifth-generation Kansan, Davis lives in Lawrence, where she is currently working on her ninth album, Songs of the Celtic Winter Part 2, which she plans to release in November.
We chatted with Davis about her inspiration, the Irish music scene in Kansas City and a few of her favorite spots around town before her appearance at Lawrence’s Liberty Hall on March 5.
How would you describe your music? I tend to say “world music.” Like any frontier kid, we don’t like boundaries. And so I don’t want to be put into a specific bin because I want to be able to continue to draw from any culture, any genre, and continue to make my music, which is a unique blend of a lot of different things. And though that’s sometimes going against the grain in my own genre of Celtic music, I think it’s what’s given me a unique voice.
How do you come up with your lyrics? When I’m writing and I’m stuck, I will often go to volumes of poetry that I have on hand in my writing room. I usually read about three books at the same time, and I’m always taking notes. One habit that I have that is interesting as a writer is I will often mishear something that somebody says—maybe at a table beside me—and I’ll think, “That is an amazing way of expressing that,” but it’s incorrect. Or I’ll misread a text, and the misreading ends up being something really cool. The other day I was reading a book and it said, “This is also thought of as the”—and what I read was “awkward heart.” I thought, “What a great song title, ‘The awkward heart.’’’ I wrote it down and then came back and reread the sentence, and it actually was “awakened heart.” I do this all the time, and it’s like these little messages that I get. So the first track of the new winter album is called “The Awkward Heart.”
What’s something your fans might not know about you? A lot of people don’t know that I’m a Reiki practitioner and that when I’m not on the road, I see people who would like to be treated with energy work. I get to hear the stories of the people that I treat, and they are always stories of the heart. They sometimes influence how I might be writing something—because we are all made up of everyone’s stories, in a way. And your story becomes my story today. I think I am a pretty porous writer and an empath, so I’m always sort of soaking in everybody’s language and energy and ideas.
GO: To find out more about Ashley Davis, go to ashleydavisband.com.
Arthur Bryant’s Barbeque: “I remember going there as a kid with my dad, and it is my favorite barbeque in the world. It’s the most unique sauce I’ve ever tasted. By far. And I give it as gifts all around the world. I’ll bring a bottle with me in my suitcase.”
Garazzo’s: “The original Garozzo’s in north Kansas City. Mike Garozzo’s a good friend of my dad’s, and we’ve been going there since I was a kid. My mother’s Italian, and it just felt like the experience I had with her Italian side on the East Coast whenever I would go in there. So it would trigger a lot of memories of my Kansas family and her side also.”
Kauffman Stadium: “Some of my most formative memories are there. I’ve been going there since I was born and have just incredible family memories of being there. I’m a huge Royals fan.”