Darius Remembers

by Darius Davenport on March 1, 2013

I grew up in a musical family. My father and mother were musicians who specialized in Early Music from the Medieval, Renaissance and Baroque periods mostly. My father was a pioneer in early music, playing the recorder and developing educational programs that were eventually part of most public school music instruction programs in the U.S.. My mother went to Black Mountain College in North Carolina and studied music with some of the world’s most renowned musical instructors.

We learned to play music in our family at an early age. I started playing recorder at 6 years old and my younger brothers earlier than that. I started playing the Oboe at nine. We often played music together and could sight read many songs on the recorder. My parents divorced when I was 12 and my mother moved my brother and I to California in 1962. My father remarried and my step- mother was an accomplished soprano also specializing in early music. My father had been a jazz trumpet player in the Navy as well so we all grew up with a wide variety of different styles of music in the house.

During my time in California I had become very interested in the drums. A friend had a set and I had started playing occasionally at high school functions. I remember getting a standing ovation at school assembly for playing Take Five with a jazz trio. But, I was unhappy living on the West coast and when I turned 16 I dropped out of High School and moved back to New York to live my father. At that time my father wanted me to enroll in Manhattan’s famed Music and Art High School but fate would have other plans.
A friend of mine was taking guitar lessons in New York City and told me his guitar teacher was in a rock band and they were looking for a drummer. I went to this funky little house off of Bleeker Street in the Village and auditioned. I was invited to join the band and, at 16 years old, moved into the city and started playing drums in what would become Autosalvage. Needless to say my parents were not happy and there was a big fight.

Living in the Village in 1966 was pretty amazing for a kid with a dream. I was nick named “the Kid” in fact because my band mates were in their early twenties. Many bands were in the Village still playing even though many had already moved to the West coast. Dylan, Peter, Paul and Mary, Joan Baez, The Lovin Spoonful, Richie Havens, Paul Butterfield, Mike Bloomfield, The Blues Project, The Fuggs, The Mothers of Invention and later Hendricks, Donovan and Cream plus many more made the scene a rich variety of sights and sounds. The Blues festival at the Café Au Go Go is probably the first major blues happening in the country with blues greats who are mostly gone now. I saw Muddy Waters, Otis Span and too many others to name or remember at the Au Go Go. I saw Cream 3 nights in a row at the Au Go Go (a small club) on their first U.S. tour. We also saw Richard Pryor at the club and we are supposed to have “opened” for him which may be true. I just remember laughing my ass off.

We practiced probably more than we performed but that paid off when we finally landed a contract with RCA. We were booked into Studio B at the recording center at RCA. I do remember one day we were playing so loud that we were disturbing a Kate Smith session going on in Studio A next door. She had an entire orchestra and choir in there and our music was leaking on to her tracks. We stopped playing and went over there and met her and hung out for her session for a while. What a contrast in cultures!

The band was excited about the album which was finally released in March of 68’. We played at the Filmore East with other RCA acts and were set to go on a tour. I don’t remember many specifics of the end but I do remember calling my dad from a phone booth (remember those?) on West 3rd Street, in tears, letting know that the band had “split up”. Rick moved to California and me and the other two remained in the East. I had my son Sasha in the spring of 69’ and the three of us did end up moving to California on a trip to see my mother. I’ve lived here in California mostly for years and have played music on and off over the years. I was inspired by the drumming of Ringo Starr, Mitch Mitchell, Ginger Baker, Al Jackson Jr. and many others whose licks I copied. I learned to play guitar too by copying my fellow musicians. I owe many thanks to Skip Boone, Rick Turner, Tom Danaher, Marc Silber, Artie Traum, Phil Marsh, Peter Berg and others who helped shape my musical interests and talent back in those days. I do owe my greatest gratitude to my father and mother though for giving me the gift of genetics and teaching me to play music in the beginning. I am eternally indebted to them for that.

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Earliest Days: All seemed loosely centered for me around chance meetings at The Folklore Center, which then became Marc Silber’s Fretted Instruments at 6th Ave. at 3rd St. Expanding some, most of this story happens between 7th Ave. S.—our eventual rehearsal space—and Rick’s loft at the east end of Bleecker St. near our 1st space at Bleecker and Crosby St. Our meetings and wanderings—with the exceptions of slightly dangerous forays east, or to Little Italy and Chinatown—seldom went beyond 14th St. to the north and Houston St. to the south. Less than a mile in each direction this was The Village.

Our friends Geof and Patricia [see time line info] and I often walked this east-west, W. 3rd St. route, and so by ‘open to street’ club, the Village Music Hall. The house band there included Geof’s friend Skip on guitar; Skip’s brother Steve, bass; and Joe Butler, drums. Open to strange things, Skip went with the idea of a new band. (Spoonful founder, John Sebastian tapped Steve and Joe). Shortly after, Rick and I met again by chance, and Skip brought in Darius. Voila! Autosalvage. As I remember, here’s sort of how it was…

Folk and Rock: Folk oriented musicians, like Rick and myself, had already had exposure and experience—e.g., Newport Folk Festivals—to black musicians with electric instruments (Chambers Brothers; Staples Singers; Lightning Hopkins; Wolf). Add in Country and Western and 1950s rock and roll….and folkies had an uneasy choice: electric or no, and to what degree. Autosalvage—although utilizing ‘acoustic’ instruments—exemplified an all-out commitment to exploring electric. Knowing each other from Cambridge days, 1964, guitar guys Rick and I (by love and necessity, repairmen) were already into electric guitars as projects, collectables, whatever…guitars were cool, and it all paid the rent.
To our chance meeting on Bleeker St. came this shared history and familiarity. ‘Going electric’ seemed to make the whole Autosalvage project with Skip and Darius another cool thing.

“ Gimme Some of that Rock and Roll Music:” Never exactly a folkie, Skip was always about ‘plain ole rock and roll’. From early days in Nashville around Chet Adkins; Everlys; even Elvis, [check w/ skip on more context …details] came his seamless progression into Beatle influences (Hofner bass) blending that personal history into the Autosalvage originals.

Bass and Drums: Out of The High School of Music and Arts, Darius was recruited to Autosalvage by Skip. Dari was recommend by Skip’s guitar student, a childhood friend from “The Land,” an upstate artist’s community which included the likes of John Cage, Merce Cunningham, and Dari’s father, LaNoue Davenport. It was LaNoue who then arranged our strings and played ….

“Psychedelic” as a musical genre seemed to appear somewhat later. In interview w/ Crawdaddy #14??, Skip and I refer to our style as Rock and Roll—no irony intended—just what we thought was a natural progression in what has been now shortened to ‘Rock.’

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In Ancient Times: Skip meets Elvis, 1957

by Tom Danaher on February 1, 2013

Music roots of Autosalvage reach way back. It’s all about history, really —“A Hundred Days Now, and a Hundred Days a Hundred years ago.”
From Tom and Rick’s shared, American folk and blues roots, to Darius’ introduction of the Medieval instruments via his father of NY Pro Musica, Autosalvage is historical . . . . Then there’s our living history.

In Nashville in’57, Skip was the height of cool. He was playing Rockabilly with Arthur (“Hey Ruby”) Osborne for the likes of Chet Atkins. But just as cool, they were cruisin’ the South in Skip’s ’54 Ford custom. Guitars in the back seat, off they drove to a stadium Elvis show in, maybe, Tallahassee.

In they drove—waved in by security—backstage parking. With guitars, and walking by the Elvis’ trailer…it was him! The King of Rock and Roll was just sitting there, “Hey boys, you playin’ or just catchin’ the show?” And so they stayed and talked about nothing in particular, until a road manager demands, “What are you guys doin’ here?” At which point, Skip and Arthur said “see ya” to the King and walked out front across the stage with guitars to front row seats . . . to tremendous applause.

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Elvis, Phil and Don 1957

by Tom Danaher on September 6, 2012

I talked w/ Skip…interviewed really…about two meetings he had w/ Elvis in Fla. outdoor concert, then in Nashville hanging out and finding both Everly Bros. sitting on his custom Ford. Skip has a way of telling his stories complete with humor and irony. There is more about Chet Atkins, but I only had an hour….

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In the Pa. sticks, no wifi

by Tom Danaher on September 4, 2012

…will have some Autosalvage content as soon as I get back home in Pittsburgh (City of Champions). I expect to have some news regarding intriguing new Album cover photo concept.

Very psyched to get to visit San Fran area again, rehearsals in Marin….this may just be too laid back…have to bring some East Coast energy. Although from Rick’s recent intinerary, he seems to be at full throttle…

 

 

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