LW Davidson - Larry has played everything from pop to rock n roll, to blues, jazz, psychadelia to N’awlins funk to punk. 

Q: When did you start playing music?

A: My mom had me taking piano lessons when I was 3 with a horrible old crow who would slap my knuckles with a metal ruler any time I didn’t curl my fingers – still remember her stern glare and ugly demenor to this day. It’s not that I hated classical music - in fact I still listen to a lot of classical today - but it wasn’t what I heard in my head and heart. We always had the radio on in the house when the hi-fi system wasn't playing records (an old KLH system that had turntable speeds from 16 to 78 - something you never see anymore) and I was getting exposed to all kinds of early rock, jazz and folk at the time. Mom was the classical music fan with a hippie bend to her and dad was a huge jazz fan and even though bebop wasn’t his thing he would still give it a try now and then. He was more into the classic New Orleans and Chicago sounds and had some great stories of growing up in New York City and hanging out with and going to see all the great jazz legends. It was when I listened to Charlie Parker that I first became a deadhead – even though I didn’t know it at the time. We always had music playing in the house so I guess it was inevitable that I wanted to play, even if Chopin and Mozart were not in my future. To be honest, the structure and rigidity of reading music and playing it THAT way and ONLY that way is a drag.

Q: A deadhead? As in the Grateful Dead?

A: Oh yeah .... people laugh and scoff at the Dead. I was very fortunate to see many dead shows and Bill Graham said it best: "They aren't the best at what they do; they're the only one's who do what they do." So true! The whole thing about the Parker-dead link for me was the freedom - that wide open vista of possibility within a framework. I was told once that "there aren't any wrong notes - just bad timing." Timing and sustain are everything. Knowing when to play is one thing. Knowing when not to is much more important. The dead turned me into a rhythm freak. I was never that fond of the space jam thing though sometimes it was truly inspirational ... but the rhythm work of Phil Lesh, Mickey Hart and Bill Kruetzman was a lesson each and every time I saw them.

Q: How many times did you see them? This is one of those dead-fan answers all deadheads know right?

A: Um ..... 372 ;)  But I also saw hundreds of other shows - everything from harcore punk (the Ramones, Stiff Little Fingers, Undertones, Stranglers, Black Flag, Clash, Jam.....) to the classic huge rock bands of our time.

Q: Anyone you didn't see that you regret?

A: Oh yeah! Frank Sinatra, Bob Marley, XTC, Roxy Music .... actually there are a lot of acts I never saw that I would have loved to. The Beatles ...

Q: Back to you.... when did you start to play guitar?

A: A couple of years into the piano lessons mom brought home a bunch of new records - Tony Sheridan and The Beatles in Hamburg, Freewheelin’, The Band, Meet the Beatles, Donovan and Neil Diamond Hot August Night.  I looked at those guys (the Beatles) in leathers - especially John sitting there with his guitar, looking so cool and when she put it on the turntable that was it! I knew then and there I wanted to play guitar so I promised her that I would continue music lessons IF I could play guitar instead of piano. I’ve been playing ever since. Only took a few guitar lessons though - enough to learn how to tune it and play House of the Rising Son - I took it from there.

Q: Who have you played with?

A: It’s been my honor to hang and play with many great musicians over the years – from my old bandmates in the Bay Area, of whom Paul Kopf, Bone Cootes, Michael John Ahern, Jay Young, Lachlan Kane and others came in and out of various incarnations of bands. I’ve also had the extreme pleasure of playing with the great Bill Frisell at a benefit concert a few years back – it was one of the great moments in my life – trading licks with one of the true masters of the 6-string (he's one of the nicest guys on the planet). Through various weird circumstances and chance meetings I got some schooling from Jerry Garcia, Elvin Bishop, Carlos and Ry Cooder, a little bit from Glen Tilbrook, Joe Strummer and a few other fantastic musicians (lived in London for a while in the heyday of punk/new wave) throughout the years but it always comes back to John in his leather jacket! That's what I wanted - to be the guitar slinger.

Q: You also play Bass?

A: There are as many excellent guitarists around as trees in the forest so there were times in different bands - because you just couldn't find a good bass player - that one of us would play the bass. I always wanted to be the guitar guy but I also had a better sense of rhythm than many guitarists do. I can't say I always enjoyed it but I took it seriously and was determined to play the instrument like it was supposed to be played - as a rhythm instrument. Luckily I met an incredible drummer - Jay Young, a veteran of many Bay Area bands. He and I would get into the groove and hold down a pretty ferocious backbone. He taught me more about rhythm without knowing it than anyone else in my life. Now I totally enjoy switching into that role and at rehersals I sometimes abandon the guitar and just groove with Fred.

Q: It seems like you're all over the map when it comes to your influences and heroes. Anyone in particular that comes to mind?

A: (laughs) Man that's a long list .... here goes: Phil Manzanara (Mr. Magnifico), Johnny Marr, Jerry Garcia, Declan McManus (If you don't know his stage name you fail!), David Gilmour, Bill Frisell, James Burton, Neil Finn, Ed O'Brien, Cyril Jordan, Chuck Berry, Ry Cooder, George Harrison, Keith Richards, but there are more .... the list is long - I'd need a lot of espresso for that!

Q: What's your biggest musical surprise in life?

A: My friends from undergrad Thomas & Barbara literally forced me to go see Prince. He completely blew my mind! Talk about fun fun fun - I've never been more surprised and impressed with a performer or a band since that moment!