What: Stuart Davis
When: 8 p.m. Saturday
Where: Shine, 2027 13th St., Boulder, 303-449-0120
Stuart Davis is many things — a Boulderite, a practicing Buddhist Monk, a painter, a comedian, a TV show host.
But more than anything else, he’s a musician and a human being.
“It’s all just about trying to be the most whole person that you can be,” Davis said of his music. “It’s about how you can grow as a human being.”
Specifically, Davis is a musician and human with a hometown album release party this Saturday. He hasn’t toured for more than two years — he’s been focusing on his TV show “Sex, God and Rock ‘n’ Roll” instead — but he’s had more than enough songwriting fodder in that time.
“I did TV pretty exclusively for the last three years, but I kept creating,” he said. “I don’t know if it was generic as a mid-life crisis, it may have been, but chiefly, a huge part of it was my dad’s passing away. I used these songs as a catharsis, as a way to explore and transmute my own dark night of the soul.”
Davis is deeply interested in spirituality, and it makes him a powerful songwriter. His sound, at first listen, is contemporary rock, but he throws in flourishes of synths and keys, giving it an otherwordly feel There’s a curiosity in (if not a thorough understanding of) the way people connect to each other and share basic human qualities. Writing a record after his father passed away, he was even more in tune with that binding human experience: Death.
“It’s not morbid, and ironically, it’s full of a lot of light and full of a lot of release, so I think the songs were successful as a therapy and a way to get me through,” he said. “It does seem to connect with people in some genuine and authentic way, and I think it depends on who the person is. The songs are put together in a way are pretty universal. The stuff that captivates me and moves me the most tends to be very universal stuff. We all need love, we’re all confused, we’re all scared, we need shelter and relationships. Those subjects are the ones I keep coming back to and are more compelling.”
While that’s all been a common thing for Davis, this record, Music For Mortals, does take a different tone than his previous work. He found that writing his TV show provided an outlet for his humor, so he no longer felt the urge to weave it into his songs.
“My previous record, Something Simple, had very funny songs on it. They’re not jokey, gaggy songs, but they have a sense of humor to them, and sense of humor tends to be my favorite way to explore taboo and darker stuff,” Davis said. “But on this record, that really did not happen. This record was a much more purely exposed and vulnerable set of songs. It may be too soon to say this, but I think it’s the most emotionally true. I just unzipped my guts and didn’t try to protect it or couch it in humor.”
Throughout all of this exposing of his soul, Davis had a lot of fan support. Music For Mortals was largely made possible by $80,000 in donations from 35 fans in 15 countries.
“The reason I think this was successful and that people got behind it in that way is that I sing about unusual things and, from what I can tell, the fan base is really voting,” Davis told the Colorado Daily earlier this month.
“They’re voting with their support and their funding because these subjects deal with stuff that we don’t see a lot in the mainstream. They don’t want it to pass away — that it wouldn’t come to be because of the funding.”
Local fans will get a chance to show their support this Saturday during his show at Shine. Davis is looking forward to celebrating with his fellow Boulderites, and is planning a few monologues to go along with the music. He’ll also be offering prints of his art for the first time.
“Boulder is home. The shows that I do here… I don’t always feel so exuberant and interested in experimenting when I’m in a town that I’ve never been to before,” Davis said. “But Boulder is a place where I’ve always experimented. So I’m a little more interested in mixing it up when I’m here.”