If you take the enthusiasm and playfulness of early New Orleans rhythm and blues, add to that the cynical wit of Randy Newman, the rock meets jazz sensibilities of early Steely Dan, and the mocking humor that runs through the works of Professor Longhair, Allen Toussaint, Frank Zappa, and Earl King, you begin to describe the music of "The Real Davis," Davis Rogan.
Davis Rogan grew up in New Orleans, and even though he can cook a mean gumbo, he doesn't sweat red beans and rice nor does he indulge in neon red drinks in glasses named for storms. He d.j.'ed on both Tulane's station WTUL and the New Orleans community radio WWOZ, and hustled for gigs in the early 1990s. In his head, he had an idea to start a band with "a blend of hip-hop sensibility and New Orleans brass band with some classic New Orleans funk," as he said in an Offbeat article in 2002. "That, and a big ass horn section." That band became the first and foremost funk/rap/New Orleans band, All That. The band was signed to roots music powerhouse Rounder Records and put out two great albums, "Eponymous Debut" and "the Whop Boom Bam."
Later he emerged with a bunch of songs that became his first solo record, "The Once and Future D.J." The record was lost to the floodwaters of the Katrina levee failures, but another copy surfaced. And in the first issue that New Orleans music magazine Offbeat put out after the flood, critic John Swenson gave it a deservedly great review. Now here's the twist in this story. Producer David Simon, head honcho of the rightly revered HBO series "The Wire." reads the review and hears the record as he is researching a new series about post-Katrina New Orleans that he is going to pitch to HBO. He loves the record enough to base a character on Davis Rogan. That's how we get to "The Real Davis," in contrast to the "The Cable Davis" played by the great Steve Zahn on Treme.
Davis makes New Orleans tradition true to today, yesterday, and at least two weeks from today. But even if you don't know that, you'll still dig the record. It's got that inimitable, indescribable thing that could be called heart. Or soul.
Davis Rogan is part of the Dayton NOLA Summer Series Presented by Abita Brewing Company and Yeah You Right Music Inc. Tickets to all three Summer Series Concerts may be purchased by contacting firstname.lastname@example.org