SC native Patrick Davis trades songwriting notoriety for big band energy

Posted 2/22/23

When Camden’s Patrick Davis departed for Nashville two decades ago en route to a successful career as a songwriter, he had already been gigging in the Carolinas for a while.

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SC native Patrick Davis trades songwriting notoriety for big band energy


When Camden’s Patrick Davis departed for Nashville two decades ago en route to a successful career as a songwriter, he had already been gigging in the Carolinas for a while. It is the spirit of those early barroom gigs that inspires his current live act, billed as Patrick Davis & His Midnight Choir, which returns this weekend to the Harbison Theater in Irmo. 

“When I was a kid playing cover gigs in Five Points, it wasn’t for the money — it was because it was a lot of fun, and beat the hell out of having a job,” he said. “I got lucky to be in the music business, and do well, but you can get stuck in the business side of things and forget the music part.”

Davis is modest about his songwriting success, but he has had a pretty good run of songs cut by major country artists — Lee Brice, Pat Green, Darius Rucker, Jason Michael Carroll and others have found their way to his songs, mostly through his stint working as a staff writer for Warner Chappell Publishing. It was paying the bills, Davis said, but it wasn’t necessarily where he wanted to focus his energies.

“For a while I was getting the checks from writing, so that’s what I did,” he admitted. “When you’re writing a song that’s being pitched to 200 different artists, it becomes a bit of a soul-sucking operation. I love storytelling, and writing songs, but I got bored with doing something I wasn’t really passionate about. I grew up on a farm, but I also grew up with parents that were old hippies, so country music isn’t necessarily a given for me.” 

About six or seven years ago, Davis took a chance and hit the reset button on his career track.

“Over the past few years I’ve figured out how to intertwine the songwriter with the showman,” Davis claimed. “It was seeing a Springsteen show and recognizing that everything about it wasn’t perfect, but you watch and get the energy and the feeling, and that’s more honest and real.”

Davis has assembled a large band in his Midnight Choir. He compares it to Joe Cocker’s Mad Dogs & Englishmen tour band, a loose collective of players that might change depending on where the show is, or who’s available on a given night. Gary Greene, who plays with Hootie & the Blowfish, is a part of it, as is Charlton Singleton of Grammy-winning Charleston act Ranky Tanky. Davis’ father, Rusty Davis, is usually slinging a guitar on stage, as is his sister, singing background and harmony vocals. 

“It’s humbling, and a big honor, to have some of these people on stage with me,” Davis said. “I don’t ever take it for granted, and it’s part of what makes every show just a little special.”

With the Midnight Choir, you get a healthy dose of original Davis’ songs, from hits like “Numbers” and “Where I’m From” to his ode to his home state, “Carolina When I Die,” but the set also includes a portion devoted to rock and soul classics delivered in an emphatic, impassioned way. 

“With my songs that we do, there are ones that will make you cry, laugh, that’s life,” Davis said. “I try to do that with the shows, really span that whole range of emotions. The biggest compliment I get from people afterwards, though, is that they can tell how much fun we are all having together on stage.”

Davis’ life changed even more last fall, as he married Lauren Jenkins, who is also a musician and country singer and songwriter.

“It’s a relief to have a partner who knows the business,” Davis reflected. “My schedule is so crazy, having someone that understands it is great — and it goes both ways, too, with her commitments.”

The two have done some songwriter events together and have written a couple of songs together, but they keep their careers somewhat separate

“Lauren is incredibly talented, and she’ll be in the studio soon, to release an album by the end of the year,” Davis said. “I help her when she needs it, and vice versa, but we are our own little entities.”

Jenkins has been in recovery from a hip replacement that was needed to correct an undiagnosed childhood injury, so she has not done any appearances in the past year — until this week, as Davis revealed that she will play an unannounced opening set for the Irmo show. 

Davis has also been working on a new album, which he said should be out this year as well.

“We’ll put out a single in April, it’s a ‘Patrick Davis’ album but it will have the studio version of the Midnight Choir sound,” he said. “I’m finally figuring out how to include my songwriting side with the full band in a recorded setting, capturing a little of the magic of the live shows.”

Davis is the first to acknowledge that luck and good fortune, mixed with years of hard work, has put him in a position now to do what he wants, and he vows to never take that for granted.

“I consider myself a late bloomer, I survived until I figured it out,” he concluded.


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