Dan Barrett and Mike Meadows got their start playing music in Boston around the Porter and Davis squares subway stations. The pair forged a partnership based upon a shared love of the blues and named themselves Porterdavis, in honor of its humble beginnings. Moving to Austin in 2004, Barrett and Meadows hooked up with Englishman Simon Wallace. The trio quickly established itself in the rootsy confines of the Hill Country playing its mix of blues and soul to appreciative audiences at well-suited watering holes such asAntone’s
and The Cactus Cafe. Dan Barrett took some time to talk about the band’s recent live effort and the future of the genre in which the band works its craft.
Why did you decide to make your sophomore effort a live CD?
Our first record didn’t have Simon, our harmonica player. It was essential that people experience what the band had grown into with Simon. The live album was the fastest way to do that.
Why did Austin become the band’s base?
It is just a great place to live. Quality of life. More parking spots than Boston. Warmer weather.
Is blues a marketable commodity?
I’m not sure I understand your use of the word commodity, because that connotes a relatively undifferentiated product like corn. Pop music is like that I guess. So if pop music is corn, then blues is a weird heirloom corn that only certain niche specialty grocers carry. It’s healthier and heartier, but the mainstream is not going to go to the fancy gourmet grocer and get it. I think blues, for the most part, is music for the privileged now, like organic hummus.
We borrow from blues music. We love blues music. We even revere it, but we just play music music. We aspire to make great music and be paid for it like most who take care it what they do. The creating is the reward.
How do you decide on a cover choice?
It’s not too scientific. I like "Come On in My Kitchen" because the song feels magical. I love Robert Johnson’s mythology. I don’t believe any of that crap about him selling his soul, but I love that he creates such a feeling within people that they can only explain it thought the projection of some supernatural myth.
Does the trio format without a bass limit the band?
How does the multicultural make up of the band set it apart?
It’s fun to teach Simon, who is from Cambridge, ASL, American as a second language. He still says Tack-oh for taco.
What is a libation ceremony, and why do you do it?
Many musicians worked, sacrificed and committed their lives to the art before we did. They inspired us so much, and we are lucky to be able to pursue out best live now through music. Before each show, we take a moment to thank them, and to get a perspective on reality. We learned that on out trip to Ghana, West Africa, and made it our own.
Do you want to educate your audience about the blues?
No, I want them to feel energized about their own lives. I want them to relax and unwind. I want them to see three people listening to each other and following their paths in life and let that feed their own desire to create and contribute in their own way. If they are thinking about the blues and blues history while we are playing, then we are not doing our job. After we play, I’d love for them to discover some of the great heroes we love. Not during. -- Darryl Smyers
Catch Porterdavis 9 p.m. January 3 at AllGood Cafe.
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