‘Home Is Where The Heart Is’ is out now!
Hailing from the hills of West Virginia, USA, The Davisson Brothers Band first caught the attention of Australian country music fans in late 2017 with the release of their hit single Po Boys (from the album Fighter), which peaked at #2 on the national country singles charts in Australia.
Upon arriving in Australia for the first time in 2018, the band famously received a very public endorsement by Australian country superstar Lee Kernaghan during the CMC Music Awards. Their acclaimed performances at the CMC Rocks Queensland festival took place several days later. They returned to Australia in 2019 as international headliners at the Groundwater Country Music Festival.
Today, the Davisson Brothers Band release their brand-new album, Home Is Where The Heart Is, produced by Brett Cobb and David “Ferg” Ferguson.
“This new twelve song album is the record we’ve dreamed of making,” say Chris and Donnie Davisson. “This album is pure Davisson Brothers Band music. It tells the story of where we come from, where we are and where we are going,”
We’re so delighted to bring you this exclusive track by track, as The Davisson Brothers Band talks us through each individual track: the creation, sentiment, and everything in between.
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Chris Davisson – “The band was out touring and enduring several months of intense travel. I had been thinking that we are always bragging about where we live in West Virginia and the place we call home. We find ourselves always pulling our phone out showing other artists, industry folks and even fans pictures and videos of our home and things we do there. It had been on my mind for several months that I wanted to write a song about home and the Appalachian Mountain / holler lifestyle we were raised in and still live today.
I wanted to paint a picture with the lyrics that people could understand and relate to. I also knew this could not be just another song, it could maybe be the most important song that we have written and recorded to date. Part of it scared me and the other part challenged me. I knew it would require us to be really honest and open up a little more than we normally do in a song, I wanted to dig deep and make it personal. I had all these lyric ideas that were going on in my mind but just hadn’t felt the right time and moment to put it to paper.
After being in rental vans and planes for a few days, I remember getting back to our bus for the last leg of a tour, being road guys, there is something that happens mentally and physically to you when you wrap up a tour, that last couple hundred miles getting home is a different ride than all the other rides. It’s also the ride where some of the crew guys will let loose, drink beer and celebrate a little. These rides are a little rowdy with everyone being loud, laughing, joking, and carrying on, I remember this particular ride well, I remember feeling like a weight had been lifted off my shoulders, we were heading home, away from the city life and back to the woods to fish and relax. I was happy and at the same time fired up, about an hour in I reached in a spare bunk on the bus and grabbed an acoustic guitar, all the band and crew were in the front of the bus, I went to the back lounge and locked the door by myself.
There it was, it was like it fell out of the sky down to me, something took over my body and hands and this melody and chord progression came out, then the first verse came out in the same couple minutes. These kinds of things have only happened a couple times in my life, but nothing ever came close to this experience. I knew this was the song I had been thinking about for months.
I played it over and over for about an hour and ran to the front of the bus and got my brother Donnie, we worked on the rest of the song until we got dropped that night at our trucks. I went home and made a couple work tapes. We had everything about done except I thought we could beat the chorus we had , I had a couple more ideas but wanted to be patient with it, I knew it was going to be that song that lives in our family for a long time, I thought and thought on it and it hit me, I told Donnie let's wait and bring our long-time friends Rob Snyder and Channing Wilson in on this Chorus. Rob has this special talent of getting Donnie to sing to the top of his range and knows how to push him to his full potential, he can just make these monster melodies that still blows my mind every time we work with him.
We did just that, we headed to Nashville just to finish this song. Rob and Channing go way back with us, and we have been through a lot of good times and hard times with these guys. They both have been to WV with us countless times and been to our farm and holler where our family has been and buried since the 1700’s. I knew they would both understand the importance of this song. I remember intentionally not telling them a word about it and just asking them to come over to our publishing house in Nashville, when they arrived, Donnie and I played them what we had already started. I don’t think we even stopped the first take and Rob belted out this melody and lyric for the chorus and Channing hammered out a new bridge section. We went back 2-3 times on the last verse and the song was done.
This experience also set the bar for the rest of the record we were about to start. After making a work tape of Home and a demo back in WV, we realized we had started a new chapter in our career, it lit the fire to go get back in touch with a bunch of artists and writers from our past. We started writing really hard and digging in on our roots the next year and realized that the sounds and songs we grew up around were the same sounds that made us who we are today. We decided we wanted to pull from the traditional Appalachian influences on us and make a record. After writing 50 plus songs, per request of our producers David ‘Ferg’ Ferguson and Brent Cobb, we sent them all the work tapes. They were on Ferg’s houseboat one day going through the material and Brent Cobb called us while we were going down the road. He said, “Chris, do you realize that about 90% of these songs you turned in are about West Virginia, Appalachia and Home?” I said no I didn’t nor was it intentional, we have been so close to these songs that we haven’t even thought about that, he then said can I name this record? Donnie and I both replied yes you can, he said ok…. “Home Is Where The Heart Is”
In addition to the writing process of this song, the studio sessions were over the top unique and great as well. This was the first track we cut, and we went totally live without any click, I knew at the moment we finished this song we were going to have a ball making this record. Ferg and Brent made it really easy, we also for the first time got to have our Dad and some of our family sing on a song. The gang vocal on this track is our Dad Eddie Davisson, Nephew Landon McFadden, Nephew Andrew Davisson, Cousin Cheri Varkonda and childhood friend Tricia Hagedorn and myself, Chris Davisson. We recorded the gang vocal live and around one microphone.”
Donnie Davisson – “Mountain High was a fun song to write, we wrote it with our buddies Wyatt Durrette and Tyler Reeve at Wyatt’s condo. My brother had a banjo with him, and he played this lick/melody which he had been messing around with throughout the day. He kept playing it over and over again and we were all spitting out lyrics and trying to get something started.
I think Tyler was the one who spit out “we get down on a mountain high, it’s where we’re from its where we’ll die” and after that it all fell in to place! By the time the second chorus came around, we were all up dancing and singing! The work tape was really good with my brother’s banjo leading the way.
The song had so much room and space for a lot of singing and playing. I couldn’t wait to see what Fergie and Brent thought about it and hear what they would do with this song. We pretty much tracked this song live with so many great players and singers. I knew it was going to be something special. After Fergie and Brent spent a few days putting their wisdom and amazing talent into the song, they finally let us hear it, and I almost fell out of my chair!!”
Donnie Davisson – “Appalachian Breeze was written out at the old Kenny Rogers ranch, it was our first write with Levi Lowery and Vince Herman, both of those guys are just amazing humans, and there is definitely some kind of magic going on with those boys! I think it might have been Vince’s first co-write.
Levi brought his fiddle, so my brother said, “let’s write a song to a fiddle melody.” Levi started playing this beautiful melody and we started singing about being in the mountains and streams, and Appalachia, and all the things that kind of come along with that lifestyle and the culture. It is who we really are and what we are about! The fiddle part fits so well with what we were trying to write about, it was the magic that made the song pour out of us that day!
Tim O’Brien and Stuart Duncan sang backing vocals and played amazing instrumental parts on this track as well. Vince Herman also guested on the mandolin on this track.”
Chris Davisson – “Eastern Kentucky was another curve ball we did not see coming, Donnie and I had just signed a publishing deal with Anthem Entertainment and Chris Janson’s Old Tom Publishing. We had cut 5 tracks on the record and needed another 7 or so tracks for our next session that was around the corner, we knew we had plenty of material but wanted to try and write a few more things. We thought it would be good to bring in our producer David ‘Ferg’ Ferguson to the writing room, now that we already tracked and heard some of the rough mixes, we had a better understanding of each other. We also had been hanging a good bit with Ben Chapmen and really digging his style and approach to songwriting.
We called Ben and he immediately thought it would be a cool write, we also called our buddy Ronnie Bowman. Ferg in return called his buddy Pat Mclaughlin to come in. We got to the pub house that morning and split up. Donnie, Ronnie and Pat went into a room and Ben, myself and Ferg went into another room. We sat down on the couch and Ferg started playing this guitar part, boom it was on.
I had recently lost a close friend and had a couple other close family and friends going through cancer treatments. I had just been thinking a lot about life and what these older folks passing would mean. Some of them were combat veterans and struggled throughout life with the things they witnessed in war. They were also some of the most positive people to be around, you would never know the mental and physical pain they endured. They had taught Donnie and myself a lot about life over the years.
The first thing I said was… let's write something about “life being short and let's make the most of it while we’re here. Instead of all the arguing and fighting going on today, we should be hugging and kissing each other. Ben jumped right on it and said let’s just say that but in a different way. We did, about 3 hours later, we finished the song and that was a wrap.”
Chris Davisson – “Back in West Virginia, we like to spend a lot of time at our fishing camp in the mountains of Randolph County, West Virginia. When we come off the road we like to get caught up around our houses and farm then head to the heart of our mountains. We live in holler country at the foothills of our mountains, we travel to our camp which is about a 90-minute drive, at the camp cell phones barely work and it’s just far enough off the grid to feel like you are escaping the real world. Something about the racing river and being down tucked in surrounded by mountains terrain that brings out ideas and emotions that only come about in this place. We do a lot of writing here by ourselves and as a family and a lot of filming for music videos, tv and social media content.
One week, I decided to call the family up and another buddy of ours from back home that writes with us, I told them, to come up and lets fish and write a couple songs. Everyone showed up late one evening and started drinking beer, we wrote a couple songs and went to bed.
The next morning, I woke up before everyone else did and started demoing some of the stuff we wrote the night before with a portable little rig I brought. Most of the crew got up and started putting on their fishing waders on as the sun was shining and gonna be a beautiful day for that time of year up there, the cabin emptied pretty quick, something about arriving at night and waking up looking at a trout stream out the window in the morning makes it hard to resist.
I thought the cabin was empty but I heard a few stragglers that had slept in, one being our buddy and West Virginia artists Nat Frederick, he’s a true country boy, he grew up doing all things outdoors and West Virginia, he also studied agriculture and equestrian at West Virginia University, he walked in the room a little hungover, I took one look at his country half hungover ass and said can you sing something for me, he replied, yeah let me get a beer. I do a lot of guitar playing, songwriting and very little singing.
It was just me and Nat at like 8am, I waited for him to get a beer down and said sing this to this guitar part…. “She’s wild and wonderful, she’s in my heart she’s in my soul, I take her with me everywhere I go, she’s the place that I call home, she’s wild and wonderful…he totally got it and killed the placement. I had hit record on my phone recorder which he wasn’t aware. I knew we had the goods in the bag.
Wild and Wonderful is the state of West Virginia’s slogan. It’s the first thing you see on all the road signs when you enter our state… it has a lot of meaning to a lot of people and families. About the time, we got the chorus done my Nephews Gerrod Bee and Nick Davisson, still half asleep in the back cabin bedroom, heard us and came out and said can we write this too. Shortly after, Donnie came in with a stringer clear full of trout, he caught his limit in less than an hour. I looked at him and looked out the window and said let’s all write this and compare that wild mountain terrain out that window to a female and the female is gonna be mother earth or mother mountain. We did just that, it was great moment for me and ended up being one of my all-time favorite writes. All six of us made a great work tape with everyone singing, it was a great on the spot write and another idea that came out of nowhere that took on its own life.
The recording process on this track was one of the highlights of our career as well. The day we recorded this was our first day of recording with Ferg and working with him in a professional environment, once the band got rolling on the first track, he picked up the phone and made a call. I overheard him say please get down here, these are your people, and you will dig this project. I ended up asking him who he was talking to, he said that was fellow West Virginian Tim O’Brien.
We got super excited that he was on his way, we have been fans of Tim our whole lives. I asked Ferg if we could please cut Wild and Wonderful today while Tim is here, and he said absolutely. In addition to Tim playing mandolin, he sang on it and played his one-of-a-kind, signature bouzouki. It was a great experience and a huge mile marker for us. We also brought in singer songwriter Roxy Handley to sing harmony and backup vocals, she is also from West Virginia… I had the idea of her vocal part being the voice of the mountain. She knocked it out of the park. We are very proud of this track and song.”
Donnie Davisson – “Cross My Heart was written by my son Nick and I at my house sitting in the living room, we were hanging out on the couch, and I had the hook in my head, ‘I cross my heart and I hope to die’ which was a popular saying/slang my generation would often say. I wasn’t sure if Nick would get it or understand it, but he did! Seemed like the song came to life fast and easy!”
Chris Davisson – “This is one of the two cover songs on the record. Going into this, Ferg and Brent both wanted to each pick a cover song for us to do. Ferg said early on he wanted us to cut this old bluegrass song called John Deere Tractor. Ferg comes from the old school, and we knew he had a special connection to this song and must have had an idea for it.
We also knew the potential it had dynamically, I think we might have been the first to cover this song with a drum kit. This song literally gives us cold chills. We had been working with Ferg for a good while but had yet to hear a mix on anything, we were heading to meet the band and crew one day and Ferg sent a text saying, “hey I have some mixes, do you want to take a listen?” Of course, we said yes.
As we were driving, we listened to the mp3s he sent using Bluetooth, this was one of the first songs we listened to. About the time he got to the last chorus he had added this old big band kick drum, it was like thunder hitting. It shook me to my core, I swerved the van, totally blown away. It’s like giving birth listening to these songs for the first time, Ferg and Brent really out did themselves on this track. Ferg made it jump off the tape in the mix as they say.
Also, In the studio this song had a special connection to Mountain High. While cutting Mountain High, which was the track before this or a couple tracks before we cut this in the studio, Brent Cobb said, “hey Chris, I want you to sing a track on mountain high and kind of sing in your talking voice.” I replied, “Brent, I appreciate the thought, but I don’t sing and have never sang on a track before other than some gang style vocals with a group of people singing together.” He said, “yeah, I know, I want this to be the first, I thought on it a bit and said, I’ll make you a deal, if you sing on John Deere Tractor, I’ll sing the part you want.”
We shook hands and it was a done deal. Brent is singing backing vocals on this track and really killed it. Brent is just an all-around great human being, he has had a major influence on us as an artist and songwriter, he is truly one of my all-time favorites. It was such an honor to have him produce the record but to have him sing on the record was just over the top.”
Donnie Davisson – “Long Hard Road will always have a special place in my heart, my family has sung this song for as far back as I can remember. My Dad and Uncle Pete played this song around the farm my entire life growing up, I even sang it in the second-grade talent show!
So, way back in the day, Brent Cobb walked in to one of our shows and we were playing Long Hard Road, so it was Brent’s idea to put this on the record. I didn’t mind at all because I pretty much spent my entire life playing and singing this song!”
Donnie Davisson – “We’d been writing for a few days straight with a bunch of our close writer friends, kind of like a little three-day writer’s retreat at the Wimberly Pub House. I’d written a bunch of good songs during those days but mostly all ballads. Rob McCoury, Ronnie Bowman, and Roxy Handley came in the little room to write with me and when they stepped through the door they were laughing and smiling and full of good energy.
Rob sat down on the chair in front of me and started playing one of his awesome bluegrass riffs and Ronnie started playing the rhythm on his guitar and ‘that old train she’s a clicking clackin’’ burst out of me. I said let’s just write a good ol’ bluegrass song, something fun. Their natural rhythm for bluegrass is what brought this song together. I couldn’t imagine writing a bluegrass song without them now! On our record, Rob is playing the banjo and Ronnie is singing the harmony!! A dream come true!”
Donnie Davisson – “Life On Fire is one of my favorite songs to play and sing. I’ve been playing this song for a few years, it’s always been a slow ballad, with powerful lyrics, and always seemed to be a real crowd pleaser. With only a guitar and vocal, the band takes a break and I stand on stage and play it raw acoustic. It always seemed to settle in with the crowd nice and be a nice change for the set! When we got in the studio and started working on this song, Brent Cobb had the idea of making this song sound like a 90’s country song. So, we sped up the tempo and put that old 90’s sound on it. I’m anxious to see what everyone thinks about it when they hear it! It’s so different from what it was for so long…”
Chris Davisson – “When we started the process to make the record, like I have stated before, we decided to reach out to some of our friends in the industry and wanted to collaborate with a couple folks. I set up a couple retreat style writes and brought in a few artists. One particular write, we brought in a fellow West Virginian and old touring and hanging friend Sierra Ferrell. We go way back with Sierra; she has been sharing stages with us since she was very young. She had never done a co-write, so we had gotten in the room with her and wrote a few things. We knocked it out of the park, we had intentions of getting her and Del McCoury to sing on a track with us together on a song we wrote with Sierra that Brent and Ferg really loved.
The problem was we already had the studio booked and a couple dates to work with, unfortunately schedules did not line up. We were determined to have a duet style performance on the album. We decided to get in the writing room with our buddy Kyle Tuttle (Molly Tuttle and Golden Highway) and his partner Lindsay Lou and also invited our friends Rob McCoury and Paul McDonald.
The chemistry and energy in that room was insane that day. Kyle ended up jumping out to write with Donnie on a track as we were winding down and Lindsay started belting out this melody with Paul and there it was… I’m Good With It came to life. I knew then we had the song we were looking for. It also nods to our early years of touring around the jam band scene. Lindsay came in the studio and nailed her part, Rob McCoury played on the track as well. One of the musical highlights of the record for me.”
Chris Davisson – “Morningstar is the song I have always wanted to write. I had what I would call the best of the best I was hanging with this day in the writing room. I had Pat McLaughlin and Ronnie Bowman in the room with me. I like to try and take what we do and use the strengths of the people I’m working with, this was the case this day. I had Ronnie Bowman who wrote several tracks on the Chris Stapleton’s Traveler record, and I had Pat McLaughlin who wrote some of the John Prine hits and was John’s long time guitar player. This is just to name a few of their accomplishments. I dug in on them, I said I want to write this song about this guy named Mike Morningstar that we grew up around in West Virginia.
Mike is a combat Vietnam Veteran that came back from Vietnam and kind of stayed under the radar making music for 50 years mostly touring the hills and hollers around West Virginia. He was our hero and still is, he wrote all his own music and was true to who he was. He also invented his own instrument called a “hickory stick” which is a Hickory limb bent like a bow and arrow with one guitar string on it and a pick up.
Mike has heavily influenced us throughout our entire childhood and adult life. He kind of took us under his wings and showed us the way, other than our Dad and Uncle, he influenced us more than anyone else. Mike was referred to as the Appalachian Bob Dylan by many and wrote really honest songs, he is semi-retired from playing live music right now but still gets around to a show here and there. I thought about how Mike was a big fan of John Prine and it would be a great way to pay tribute to him; writing a song about him with John Prine’s long time songwriter, friend and tour mate.
We did that, I told Pat and Ronnie that day about how Mike had served several tours in Vietnam and had got an honorable discharge but carried a lot of guilt with him back home that haunted him over his civilian life. He had pretty much moved up a holler in WV with no neighbors on a farm and kept to himself off the land and his musical performances and selling Merch out of the back of his truck. He had also refused any assistance from the government and the VA hospital until a few years back.
Mike had recently stayed at my house and told me the story of how his platoon guys had come to his rescue, after losing contact with each other for nearly 50 years they came back for him. He had felt like he had abandoned his brothers when he was discharged, he had carried that for so long that it haunted him. Here there was a group of guys yelling at him while he was setting up for a show saying, “Is that Mike Morningstar over and over?” He finally yelled back, “yes, it is” in a sharp tone and about that time one of the guys approached him holding a cadet t-shirt that belonged to him and said, “does this belong to you?”
Mike said it hit him like a ton of bricks, they went on to say we have come back for you, we don’t leave any brothers behind, we have noticed that you have not taken any government benefits for the last 50 years and we are here to get you help. He was so relieved that they hadn’t forgotten him and directly after, went with them to get 100% benefits and back pay, he now lives a much more comfortable life at 70 plus years old. This story had hit me so hard I couldn’t quit thinking about it. I was also very honored that he trusted me enough to tell me this story as well.
This is the last track on the record. We made a work tape with Pat playing John Prine style guitar only on it and decided to keep it acoustic driven without drums, we brought in our friend Rob McCoury from the Del McCoury band to guest on this song, and he totally nailed it. Sometimes the simple things that are less produced hit me the hardest and this is definitely the case on this track.”
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