Billy Davidson Interview
Case And Davidson
Billy Davidson makes up one half of the popular Syracuse group - Case
And Davidson. Billy is a former member of Kentucky Moon and Tour de Force.
Paul Case played in Bad Dog, Driving Sideways, and The Paul Case Band. For
nine years now, the duo have been dividing their time between Syracuse in
the summer, and a place called The Lorelei, in Islamorada Florida.
Local Musicians can thank Case And Davidson for the weekly "CNY Music
Scene" spot that airs on TV-9 (WIXT) on Thursdays at 11 p.m. The idea
came from TV-9 producer Bob Pearce who saw Case And Davidson at The Lorelei
in the Florida Keys. We talked with Billy Davidson about TV-9's Bob Pearce,
winters in the Florida Keys, and the Syracuse music scene.
Q - Billy, does Syracuse have a music scene?
A - Let me just say this about Syracuse, I get frustrated sometimes with
Syracuse because we never get recognized in our hometown. We get more recognition
from other places. But, at the same time, I owe Syracuse a lot, because
the people who play down here in the Keys and a lot of other places that
we play are real hacks. (Laughs). They're really bad. The nice thing about
growing up in Syracuse is learning the craft. You had to really
be a cut above the rest to even starve. (Laughs).
Q - We've got some great musicians in this town.
A - It's a great town. Actually it's the whole area - Syracuse, Utica.
All that area for some reason, the quality is just so much better. I do
some serious traveling and I see a lot of acts out there and it's just like
boy, I'm so glad I came from a town where you couldn't get away with that.
You'd get booed off the stage or thrown out of town if you tried to do something
like that. Is Syracuse a music town right now? I don't know. If someone
starts one more blues band in Syracuse... (Laughs). How innovative.
I've got pluses and minuses. Paul and I have been playing for 20 years and
we just finally this year got nominated for something at the Sammy's.
I appreciate that. That's great. Syracuse is a funny town.
Q - As I understand it, Case and Davidson are responsible
for TV-9's "CNY
Music Scene" every Thursday night.
A - Yeah. That's pretty funny.
Q - A guy named Bob Pearce caught your act at The Lorelei and told you
how much he like the act. Is that how it happened?
A - He just came up and said, "You guys are wonderful. If you ever
come up our way you gotta stop up and see us." We said, "where
do you live?" He goes, " Syracuse." (Laughs). It's funny.
He's not the only one. There's a place up in Alexandria Bay called the Islan
that we play at. Same thing. A guy comes up and says, "Boy if you guys
come up my way, look me up. I got a club you'd be perfect at." "Where
do you live?" " Alex Bay." You gotta be kidding me. (Laughs).
And one more place, the Jukebox. Same thing. A guy walks up and says if
you ever get close to my town, look me up. I'd love to have you play my
Q - You laugh, but isn't this kind of sad? It was
just a fluke that Bob Pearce saw you. If he hadn't, there would be no "CNY Music Scene".
And this is a city that prides itself on promoting local talent.
A - Yeah, it is amazing. You'll have to speak to him about it. But, I'll
semi-quote what he told me. What we did for him was peaked his interest
back (in music). In his college days he used to go out all the time to see
the music scene. Then after awhile he kind of got sick of it. It was the
same old thing. Disco craze. Punk craze. He kind of lost interest in it
and I guess maybe...well, he said coming out to see us made him realize
how much he used to love "live" music, and seeing us was the catalyst
that got him interested in going back out and scoping other bands out and
seeing what was going on in the music scene. It's an interesting story and
it's very true. Bob is a sweet guy too. He really is.
Q - And you've been down in the Keys for nine years?
A - Yeah. This is our ninth year. Next year on the millennium will be
our ten year anniversary. We're looking forward to that. That should be
quite a blow out.
Q -I understand how playing in the Florida Keys would be nice during the
winter months in Syracuse, but, how does that help your career?
A - I think I know what you're getting at. Why aren't we in Nashville,
LA, or any of those places? We don't believe in that. We gave up on that
whole trip of going to where the record company people are. Our philosophy
is let's go somewhere where all those record company people come to us,
on vacation. (Laughs). Not only that, but the dream chasing of having a
record company sign you so they can take all your money and you don't
get a red cent is just not the way we do it. Our philosophy is let's
make our own records. Let's make all the money from the sales. Let's not
give it to anybody. Here's the funniest thing: here's how Paul puts it.
For years and years we always said onstage at The Lorelei if anyone out
there owns a record company we'd both go at the same time, we're available!
But now, if anyone out there owns a record company leave us alone 'cause
we don't want to go to Hackensack in January to promote some record company's
idea of our success. Our idea is, if someone is gonna make us rich recording
stars, they're gonna do it on our terms. They're gonna come to us. We're
not gonna come to them. We don't need to come to them. We're doing fine
without them, thank-you very much.
Q - So, what's behind this tour of the west you're making this summer?
You're going to Jackson Hole, Wyoming and Deadwood, South Dakota. Do you
expect record company people to be there?
A - Nope. Actually the west trip is just for fun. I've never been to Yellowstone.
I've never been to the Grand Canyon. I have a lot of friends who live out
that way that I haven't seen in years. So, the gigs are just a way to make
some expense money, so, it's not money that has to come out of our pockets
to go out and do this little trip. It's not really a west tour to try and
get people to see us or to get known out there. It's just 'cause we want
to go out there and have some fun. That's basically it. It's as simple as
Q - "Take Cover. Vol. II" is not original
material; do you guys have original material?
A - Oh, absolutely. We have six records, four of which are original, and
two are covers.
Q - Why then, would you release a CD if it isn't original material?
A – Once again, fun. A lot of these tunes we played for years. They’re
favorites of our fans. They’re favorites of ours. Why not? We’re
not ashamed to do other people’s music. I think the renditions of
the covers we do are kind of unique, to us, to what we do. It’s not
like they’re exact copies of someone else’s interpretation of
a song. As far as that's concerned, it doesn't have to be original. It just
has to be a good song. That's all that matters. Even on our original records
we'll have a couple of covers. We don't care who wrote it. All we care about
is does it sound good? Are people gonna like it? Is it a good song? That's
really our most important objective when we do a record.
Q - Is "Take Cover, Vol. II" available
only in Syracuse or do you have some national distribution behind it?
A - Actually, it's not available in Syracuse. We kind of gave up on that,
'cause it's just too much of a hassle, and not worth it. The only way
people can get our record is either at a show or on the website. It's much
easier doing it that way. They can order it by credit card. It's easy
enough to find, Case and Davidson.com. It's just such a hassle trying to
sell the stuff in Syracuse. Why bother? It's too much work. I've been through
that. It's not worth it. Not for us anyway. Maybe it is for someone
who lives in that town and wants to be big in that town, and wants to spend
the time to do it. But, we just don't do that. I really think the wave is
MP3 and getting your music online. That's the way I get my stuff now. I
haven't been to a record store in years. I just surf the net, find out what
the new releases are, and then order it.
Q - Jim Terra helped finance your first CD. Who is he and did you actively
search for a financial backer?
A - It's pretty interesting 'cause his name is Jim Terra and the name
of the record is Earth Songs. (Laughs). Didn't really put those two together
until after the release of the record. He was a very interesting fella,
we were working at the Lorelei one year, and this guy kept hanging around,
all night long, and at the end of the night he helped us load our truck.
This went on for a couple of weeks. We're trying to figure out who the hell
is this Jim guy? Come to find out, he's like a multi, multi-millionaire.
He was the guy that was responsible for coming up with the money to finance
our first CD. He kind of came along. We were gonna do it one way or another.
Timing, luck, and fate kind of made that happen.
Q - According to your bio, "Paul would be showing up to a gig where
Billy was loading out." I don't understand. Did you go on early or
did he go on late?
A - Right. That was the New York scene. For years and years in the early
days when we were both working up in that area, Paul would have his band
and I would have my band. We'd be playing the same thruway circuit there
that everybody plays. A lot of times I would be showing up as they would
be tearing down. They'd be getting ready to go to the next gig and
I'd be showing up where they'd played the night before. That went on for
many years and that's how come we got this mutual admiration society.
There's a bunch of musicians doing the same circuit. We never get to see
each other, but at least we get to hang out with each other for a few hours.
That's what kind of led to my friendship with Paul. I never worked with
him before. Then when I heard he was down in the Keys doing his thing, I
thought that sounds like a lot of fun. And that's how it all happened
for us. That's how we ended up getting together.
Q - Were you both in bands at that point?
Q- If you had been in Florida first, would it have been Davidson and Case?
A - We were both solo. He was doing his solo thing in Florida and I was
doing it in New York. I came down on vacation with my wife a couple of times
and I knew if I if I got in touch with Paul he could turn me on to some
places. I got there and his boss said, "Why don't the two of you try
doing it together? I have the budget if you want to try something." I
remember the first night we played. It was a very magical night. And I knew
then, so much for my solo career.
A - (Laughs). I'm still working on that. Let's say because it was alphabetically
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