Davidson Hart Kingsbery – 2 Horses – In Stores June 26th
“Somewhere in between Bruce Springsteen and Jeff Tweedy, DHK’s raspy croon saddles up nicely on easy-rolling ballad “2 Horses”; its flip-side, “Stuck in Washington,” is a honky-tonkin’ cut of pedal steel steeped Americana rock.” Seattle Weekly
Damned if you do and damned if you don’t. Seattle’s Davidson Hart Kingsbery was born in Paris, Texas in 1979. His family moved around a lot before settling in Washington State, raising Hart in a devout religious environment where he sang hymns in church, did 15 years of bible camp and graduated from a religious college. After a bad early divorce, he turned his back on the church, accepting damnation as the payback for a life of barroom debauchery, only to discover that the country songs he’d begun to write told stories of a different sort, that of the damnation of affairs of the heart.
Penning songs like “Devil in his Heart” (“Whatever happened to that good Christian boy? I hear he’s a mess got the devil on his breath.) and “Tell Me What He Looks Like” (“So I can see him in hell”) came naturally to Kingsbery, though it was his first foray into country songwriting. “It felt like what I should be writing,” he said, “As a kid, my father made belt buckles for the rodeo (as well as Bob Hope and Pavorotti!), where they are used as trophies, they are giant and really elaborate. He’d take me with him and I heard a lot of great country music. When I began working on country songs it felt like coming home.” Kingsbery finds inspiration in favorites like Charlie Rich and Doug Sahm as well as soulful artists like Bo Diddley and Al Green.
The band formed in 2010 and shortly after, they were invited to serve as house band for a series of underground 2-step parties. Playing marathon sets instilled the kind of locked-in musical teamwork that can take some bands years. Building a fanbase from the two steppers, they began playing around Seattle and found that the dance movement was contagious. “You don’t see much dancing at regular shows here, but when we started playing out and our dancers showed up and hit the floor, suddenly all kinds of kids were getting up and jumping around. It’s pretty cool.” After hooking up with Fin Records, DHK released a translucent yellow/orange 7” with “2 Horses” and “Stuck in Washington” in March; their full length release (also titled 2 Horses) is available on June 26th. The album was recorded with Martin Feveyear (Mark Lanegan, Presidents of the United States of America, John Wesley Harding) at Jupiter Studios.
After his birth in a rent house in Paris, Kingsbery’s Christian Scientist parents remember that he stopped breathing and after they prayed to God, he started breathing again. He continued to have breathing issues growing up and immersed himself in art and music instead of sports. The folks weren’t big music fans, but they did own records by Beethoven, Mozart and the Beatles that Hart listened to for years, along with singing hymns in church. He began piano lessons at 11, switched to cello, drums and guitar along the way, hanging out with the Mormon kids, teaching Sunday school at camp and playing in musicals like Godspell and Joseph and the Technicolor Dreamcoat. After being completely immersed in his religion, in college he began to question everything it represented and the leaders he’d once looked up to. Eventually turning his back on what had once been his entire world, he headed back to Seattle and settled in the working class stronghold of Ballard. After leading the Kinks/Beatles-influenced Hart and the Hurricane, a girlfriend started playing Loretta Lynn, Johnny Cash, Buck Owens and others and his long dormant love of country music was reignited.
Hart may have left the large, close-knit community of the church, but he’s gained a new family, who share a love of timeless music and dancing. “I’m gonna keep writing ‘till I die,” he promised.