Going for the Vibe with Double Trouble
"I'm at a point in my career where I'm not one of the kids anymore, but I'm too young to be any kind of legend," says Debbie Davies, recipient of the 1997 W.C. Handy Award for Contemporary Blues Female Artist of the Year. "And that's really a hard place to be, because it's a maintenance point where you just keep writing and trying to grow musically."
Growing up on the West Coast, Davies' first major gig came in '85 when she joined Maggie Mayall and the Cadillacs, an all-female R&B group led by the wife of blues legend John Mayall. In '88, Davies was plucked away by Albert Collins, and toured with his Icebreakers for four years before leaving to play with harmonica player Fingers Taylor and to pursue her own ventures.
Davies' first solo album, 1993's Picture This, included a guest appearance by Collins, who died of cancer later that year. She credits Collins with helping her make the transition from side-person to bandleader. "Playing all night long as a frontperson forces you to dig in and create your own style," Davies explains. "That was my biggest evolution as a musician, and I picked that up from watching Albert."
On her latest album, Tales from the Austin Motel [Shanachie], Davies is joined by drummer Chris Layton and bassist Tommy Shannon--aka Double Trouble--the duo who backed Stevie Ray Vaughan. They first played together at a tribute concert for Vaughan at the House of Blues in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and Davies hoped she might have the opportunity to work with them again.
"That fantasy came to fruition with this album," she relates. "We recorded the tracks in Austin, and I …