Debbie Davis & The Mesmerizers


"Davis has a big, lush and wryly sultry voice, infused with intelligence and wit; the well-rehearsed Mesmerizers are a perfect setting for that gem. After logging so many dozens of hours as a live ensemble, they work together like surefooted dance partners, making the musical twirls and dips look easy."
- Allison Fensterstock, New Orleans Times Picayune

"Linger 'Til Dawn" available NOW!

Recorded at the legendary and now shuttered Piety Street Studio, this 13 song record spans nearly 90 years of songwriting and documents the next chapter in the Great American Songbook. Introducing The Mesmerizers  featuring the talents of Alex McMurray (guitar), Matt Perrine (sousaphone) Josh Paxton (piano) and Davis on vocals and ukulele.  Download MP3s below or buy CDs in the STORE. You can also find it at retailers like Fleurty Girl and Louisiana Music Factory.

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Linger til Dawn, MP3 Download

Linger 'Til Dawn

by Debbie Davis and the Mesmerizers

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  1. 1 $1.29 Make Me a Present of You 03:51
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  2. 2 $1.29 I Wan'na Be Like You 03:47
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  3. 3 $1.29 Teach Me Tonight 04:21
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  4. 4 $1.29 Skylark 04:38
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  5. 5 $1.29 Winin Boy Blues - with Josh Paxton 04:22
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  6. 6 $1.29 Grits Ain't Groceries 04:40
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  7. 7 $1.29 Dream a Little Dream of Me - with Matt Perrine 02:57
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  8. 8 $1.29 After Hours 03:59
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  9. 9 $1.29 All God's Children Got Rhythm 02:26
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  10. 10 $1.29 Sunny Afternoon 04:35
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  11. 11 $1.29 If I Fell - with Alex McMurray 03:02
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  12. 12 $1.29 D'yer Maker 04:26
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  13. 13 $1.29 I Cover the Waterfront 04:00
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Offbeat Magazine Review

Debbie Davis stands out in the crowd of vocalists like a bird-of-paradise in a roomful of parakeets. Her voice is a magnificent, near-operatic instrument and her theatrical instincts are the stuff of Broadway musical-level performance.

When she takes the stage at Three Muses or d.b.a., one hand cocked saucily on her waist, the other brandishing a cocktail glass, she holds court with the authority of a Peggy Lee.

Linger Til Dawn is only her second solo effort and the first with her dedicated band, which supports her like a fancy bustier. Pianist Joshua Paxton, guitarist Alex McMurray, and tuba master Matt Perrine build a lighter-than-air foil for Davis’ sturdy pipes, a great ensemble sound that features ingeniously crafted solos.

Read more

 

After Hours at Louisiana Music Factory

New Orleans Advocate Interview

Some albums are the result of lengthy planning, extended periods of songwriting, fundraising and eventually recording. “Linger ’Til Dawn,” the new album by Debbie Davis and the Mesmerizers, was none of those.

Instead, it was the result of a surprise recording session, arranged for wealthy tourists.

As one of the busiest vocalists on Frenchmen Street and one-third of the Pfister Sisters, Davis was selected to be someone’s quintessentially New Orleans experience. She certainly qualifies.

In addition to The Pfister Sisters and her own group, she is also part of Paul Sanchez and The Rolling Road Show, the collection of the city’s female vocalists who perform as The New Orleans Nightingales, and The Gloryoskis, a trio she formed with folk singer Myshkin and cellist Helen Gillet.

Multiple groups make it possible for her to play more often, stitch together a meaningful income and explore the breadth of her musical interests.

The Gloryoskis, for example, allow Davis to consider songwriters she otherwise might pass on because they don’t fit the band’s format. When the three met to decide what to play at Jazz Fest this year, they gave up the idea of doing a Dolly Parton song because there were so many to choose from they couldn’t figure out what to do, she said.

“Elvis Costello — he was hard to pick a song from, too,” she said.

She last recorded an album in 2012 when she released the album, “It’s Not the Years, It’s the Miles.”

She wasn’t in a hurry for another one when producer Mark Bingham called to let her know that people with money were paying to be present for a “New Orleans experience” — a recording session, and that the studio time was hers if she wanted it.

She checked with her band — guitarist Alex McMurray, sousaphone player Matt Perrine, and pianist Joshua Paxton — and took it.

“In six hours, we recorded 13 songs,” Davis said. “And had lunch."

D'yer Maker at Three Muses

French Quarter Festival 2013

It's Not the Years, It's the Miles at d.b.a.

Like many musicians who play on Frenchmen Street, Davis has performed with many musicians and a lot of bands, but after playing with The Mesmerizers for more than a year now, she’s reluctant to play with others any more than necessary.

“They are now feeling what I want before I tell them, which is refreshing,” Davis said. “And frankly, the fewer people in the mix, the more I can pay them. And whatever I pay will never be enough.”

For the impromptu session, Davis selected songs that were already established parts of the band’s set, some of which are well known blues and jazz compositions, but she also includes The Kinks’ “Sunny Afternoon” and “After Hours” by The Velvet Underground. It’s tempting to assume that it was a song Davis added to the set after its songwriter, Lou Reed, died last October, but that wasn’t the case.

“It’s been in the set for years,” she said. She didn’t want to hurry another Velvets song into the set after he passed away, but now she’s starting to think about whether another might be a good idea. “I guess it has been long enough now that I can add another Velvets song to the set and it won’t look like chasing an ambulance.”

She also covered Led Zeppelin’s reggae exercise, “D’yer Maker,” which posed some challenges. “It asked me to sing a C full-voiced in tune four times, which is something I don’t often put myself through,” Davis said.

Because the song is definitely a rock ’n’ roll song, it made slightly different demands on her as a singer, but Davis sang in a classic rock cover band in New Jersey before she moved to New Orleans in 1997, so she knew how to perform it.

“I was doing musical theater at the same time that I was doing the classic rock band, and I applied so much of what I was doing in the theater to the classic rock stuff to make it singable a few times a week.”

The album ends with her version of the jazz standard, “I Cover the Waterfront.” On it, Davis accompanies herself on the ukelele. She plays the instrument on much of the album, largely because “it’s a very accessible instrument. It’s small, it’s portable, and it makes a very pleasant sound. It’s easy to learn how to play.”

With the band, she uses it largely as a textural element for the high, strummed, rhythmic element that it adds, but she does occasionally play solo voice and ukelele sets.

She keeps those short though, because it also presents some limitations. With only four strings, some chords can’t be fully formed, and “if you do voice and ukelele, all the songs are two to three minutes long.”

Davis thinks the short time she had to record “Linger ’Til Dawn” worked to her advantage. If she’d have had more time, “I’d have made more mistakes,” she said.

“Having a bottom line and and a time line leaves very little ... wiggle room for you to go do something in the name of creativity that just winds up being a waste of time.”

 

Alex Rawls writes about music in New Orleans. He can be reached at MySpiltMilk.com.

New Orleans Advocate Interview and Review

Debbie Davis is used to being part of the New Orleans experience. With her standing gigs on Frenchmen Street, the singer and ukulelist plays for crowds of visitors to the city every week. The making of her new album "Linger 'Til Dawn," though, was a special sort of command performance.

"There's a company in New Orleans whose business is to appeal to a high-end clientele, who want to have a New Orleans experience other people don't get," she explained. "It's obscenely exclusive."

One of the experiences offered, for example, she said, was a private meal at a John Besh restaurant, served by the chef himself. Another was the chance to watch a New Orleans musician record — that's where Davis came in.

"They had a deal with Mark Bingham to buy studio time for a day and pick from a short list of musicians, based on their availability," she said. "It had been a couple of years (since she'd agreed to be on the list) and I'd forgotten about it. Then Mark called and said, 'What are you doing on Nov. 4?'"

Davis and her regular band, freshly named the Mesmerizers for the purpose of the recording — guitarist Alex McMurray, husband and sousaphone/bass player Matt Perrine, and pianist Josh Paxton — suddenly had a free day at Piety Street Recording.

Davis has a big, lush and wryly sultry voice, infused with intelligence and wit; the well-rehearsed Mesmerizers are a perfect setting for that gem. After logging so many dozens of hours as a live ensemble, they work together like surefooted dance partners, making the musical twirls and dips look easy.

"I'd been working with the same guys for years, and we had a bunch of songs ready to go," she said. The combination knew what worked well, and what crowd-pleasers might sell best on CD at the edge of the stage during set breaks. No song got more than two takes. There was no time, she said, to overthink the process.

"It's really exactly what we do on the bandstand," she said. "It's very close to a live record."

Debbie Davis and the Mesmerizers in their natural habitat: 

The exercise in efficiency that was the "Linger 'Til Dawn" session must have contributed to the recording's playful sense of freshness; every cut is surefooted, but none sounds overworked. It's there as well that Davis' skill and sensibility as an interpreter comes in. The baker's dozen songs that the Mesmerizers chose for the album split the difference between American songbook classics, vintage jazz and soul ("I Cover the Waterfront," "Dream a Little Dream of Me," Jelly Roll Morton's "Winin' Boy Blues," Little Milton's "Grits Ain't Groceries") but also arrangements of less-expected rock and pop: the Velvet Underground's "After Hours," the Kinks' "Sunny Afternoon," the Beatles' "If I Fell" and Led Zeppelin's "D'yer Maker."

"Standards, the songs that are a part of the American songbook, are just pop tunes that are now considered jazz — when they were popular, jazz was the pop idiom," she said. "'After Hours' is as traditional a jazz song as Irving Berlin ever wrote.Those kinds of choices and what's done with them, for a jazz vocalist, are what separate the true songbirds from the parrots. Davis, spanning a hundred years of pop music, does so ably and with a sharp understanding of the bones of a song.

"It's only when you take it out of context that you realize that, and it suddenly becomes a very universal song."

Appearing with the Mesmerizers, the retro vocal trio the Pfister Sisters, Ingrid Lucia's New Orleans Nightingales Revue, Paul Sanchez's Rolling Road Show, Sophie Lee, Banu Gibson, Johnny Sketch and the Dirty Notes and the Gloryoskis (with Myshkin and Helen Gillet) Debbie Davis performs many, many times during Jazz Fest 2014, on the Fair Grounds and off. Visit debbiedavismusic.com/calendar to catch up with her.

My Darlin' New Orleans, HBO's Treme All Star Revue

Debbie Davis

"Davis, who also plays a mean ukulele, sings with a big, bluesy voice that soars over tunes like Paul Sanchez’s “Mexico” as if it might ascend into the stratosphere." - Downbeat Magazine

"Debbie Davis is generally recognized as possessing one of the most beautiful voices in a city filled with talented singers. Her warm, full voice illuminates the nooks and crannies of these songs with an emotional resonance that reminds listeners of such mistresses of restrained passion as Astrud Gilberto and Betty Carter. She’s also capable of letting that big voice carry her into mainstream pop territory, where her saucy delivery is more reminiscent of numerous big band vocalists and the great Cass Elliot. ...Davis has a genius for revealing hidden nuances of well-known songs. Every gesture is priceless." - Offbeat Magazine

"Long overdue solo masterpiece." - Offbeat Magazine