Bart Davenport
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Bart Davenport

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The best kept secret in music

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"Popmatters.com"

Northern Californian scenester Bart Davenport’s musical career reads like a history of groovy-white-boy pop. In his early days, the Bay Area crooner donned suit and harmonica in The Loved Ones, a garage-mod revival that would have to fend off major labels and major ladies if it existed in today’s post-Stripes environ. Next, with The Kinetics, Davenport went for the blue-eyed soul angle, making him a San Francisco phenomenon. His 2002 solo debut, Bart Davenport, showed the singer increasingly influenced by Burt Bacharach, Gram Parsons and a breezy West Coast vibe. There’s plenty of that on Game Preserve, but also plenty more: the sensitive anglophile and McCartney-ite (“Summer in Her Hair,” “Sideways Findways”), Mexicali coffeeshop acoustics (“Sweetest Game”), and the moves of CCR, Bread, and other ’70s FM hammock-shakers. The album’s finest moment comes when Davenport channels not just the sound, but the soul of Street Choir-era Van Morrison on “Euphoria or Everyone on Earth Is So Beautiful, Even You.” Californian luminaries from groups such as Cake, Preston School of Industry, Call and Response, and others join Davenport to make this a sort of statewide group effort. By the time you get to the hopelessly bright, chilled-out harmonies of “My Brother Woody,” even blizzard-bound New Englanders will be in shades and trunks, catching rays and maybe a Bacardi on the roof. - Popmatters.com


"All Music Guide"

Bart Davenport is a classic rock loving dude. His songs on Game Preserve, his second album, are cloaked in the instrumentation and feel of indie pop (parping trumpets, layered acoustic guitars, gentle drums), but their heart is in the '70s singer/songwriter camp. "Bar Code Trees" is pure America with the ringing slide guitar and breathtakingly pure vocal harmonies, "Euphoria or Everyone on Earth is So Beautiful, Even You" is a heady mix of Phil Lynott and Van Morrison with a honking sax, "Summer in Her Hair" is James Taylor vocals over a beautiful chamber pop arrangement, "When You're Sad" is a string-based ballad that bops like Gilbert O'Sullivan at his best, "Intertwine" is a semi-funky CSN-style tune. Elsewhere, Davenport draws inspiration from Belle & Sebastian ("The Saviors"), bossa nova ("Sweetest Game"), and the Free Design (a wonderfully rich and true cover of that band's "My Brother Woody"). It would be easy having read the last couple sentences to write Davenport off as an imitator, and to a certain extent he is. What makes the record work are Davenport's intimate and tender vocals, his songwriting skills, and the clear, crisp, and warm production of the record. Game Preserve becomes more of an homage to the era than a blatant ripoff. Even if it was just that, who cares when it sounds this good. — Tim Sendra - All Music Guide


"Acousticguitar.com"

Having already explored his neo-mod, garage-rock, and blue-eyed soul sides in two San Francisco Bay Area bands, the Loved Ones and the Kinetics, pop singer-songwriter Bart Davenport delves deeper into his record collection on Game Preserve. Opening with an original acoustic guitar-and-vocal bossa nova ("Sweetest Game") obviously indebted to Jobim and Gilberto, he fashions his second solo CD as a virtual refuge of classic '60s and '70s styles. "The Saviors" sounds like an outtake from Love's Forever Changes; "Euphoria or Everyone on Earth Is So Beautiful, Even You" has an R&B/pub-rock bounce worthy of Van Morrison's His Band and the Street Choir or Brinsley Schwarz' Nervous on the Road. Keeping his acoustic six- and 12-string guitars prominent in the ever-shifting mix, Davenport enlists a variety of northern California pals (members of Cake, Call and Response, Dave Gleason's Wasted Days, the Moore Brothers, and others) to achieve uncanny approximations of Crosby, Stills, and Nash and early post-Garfunkel Paul Simon, with smatterings of other obvious and obscure references (the Carpenters? Harry Nilsson? America? the acoustic Beatles, Led Zeppelin, or Supertramp?) that ultimately charm and delight as much as they tantalize and taunt. (Antenna Farm, www.antennafarmrecords.com)
—Derk Richardson - Acousticguitar.com


"Indieworkshop.com"

Bart Davenport’s second solo album is one of those albums you would have heard back in the hay day of the independent coffee houses. Remember that? Before there was a Starbucks on every corner there use to be little, privately owned coffee shops. I miss those days. I miss the hominess of the little basement shops. You could just go there with a group of friends and talk for hours… now we have cold, unfeeling, hip-looking cafeterias for yuppies.

Just like the little holes in the wall I used to frequent with friends, “Game Preserve” wraps around you with a certain familiarity and comfort. Bart, who is a veteran of the west coast music community, layers 70’s warmth with European style. You can even draw comparisons to country rock ballads of old; the rich vocal harmonies paired with soft rock beaming with history. Actually, I could list names and bands for hours… his influences stand right up on his sleeve, but never cross over to plagiarist status.

A short list would have to include Van Morrison, The Carpenters, James Taylor… you get the idea. At times, the lyrics fall into the same kitschy traps his influences did, but somehow it adds to the charm. You might find yourself rolling your eyes at some of the lines the first time around (“Sideways and upside down/find ways to be a clown/and when the circus leaves/I’ll stay” didn’t sit too well with me on first listen) but somehow the start to make sense the more you listen.

But with all the classic names already dropped, none of them seem to stick for too long. Mr. Davenport likes to keep moving. He never falls into any ruts within the 12 tracks on this album. The style of each song is distinctly different. He always has his voice to hold everything together, but the mood can change drastically though the course of a few songs. At times he is down on his luck, others he is beaming with the happiness of “Life” era Cardigans.

So if you need a Sunday morning record for drinking coffee, I can safely say this will fit your needs. Nothing is standout or remarkable about the album… but that doesn’t really seem to be Bart’s style. Not to say that the tracks aren’t good, they are. But I think he is more interested in writing soothing pop tunes than he is blowing the mind of a few critics. If you pick this up, I’ll guarantee you’ll be in a state of ease. - Indieworkshop.com


Discography

2004 Bart Davenport - Game Preserve (Europe/Mushroom Pillow)
2003 Bart Davenport - Game Preserve (US/Antenna Farm)
2002 Bart Davenport (Paris Caramel)
2000 performed New Cool Shoes on Comp: Fortune Cookies (Fortune)
1999 performed Y2K on Comp: Unscrubbed, Live From The Laundromat (Toy Gun Murder)

Other Appearances:
2004 Lead vocals on DJ Greyboy - Soul Mosaic (Ubiquity)
2001 Backing Vocals on Preston School Of Industry - All This Sounds Gas (Matador)
2000 Bass on Electric Birds (Deluxe)
1997 The Kinetics EP (Mod Lang)
1994 backing vocals on Chris Von Sneidern - Big White Lies (Heyday)
1994 The Loved Ones - Better Do Right (Hightone)
1993 The Loved Ones - Price For Love (Hightone)
1992 The Loved Ones EP (Get Hip)

Photos

Feeling a bit camera shy

Bio

As you read this, East Bay music is enjoying a small renaissance. Bart Davenport is a veteran of this scene, perhaps one of the last true troubadours of his generation. His warm, distinctive voice emanates an endangered kind of honesty, making listeners feel as if he is singing to each and every one of them personally. His style is assorted, ranging from a pop-locking soul brother to a more plaintive and timeless folk singer. Whether he is fronting a full band or playing love songs by himself on an acoustic guitar, Davenport will move you. A young and free spirit is always apparent in his pop songs, and his more folk styled musings are laden with an introspective old soul--which he delivers with a sincerity that is so uncommon in the current indie milieu. Bart Davenport can sell you a bill of love that from anyone else would seem corny, and make you believe again--in the long summers of blissful youth, in dancing the night away.

After the release of his self-titled debut on Paris Caramel Records in 2002, Davenport seemed to be everywhere. An East Coast tour of the states was followed by a successful stint in London. That summer he did a West Coast tour supporting Norwegian duo, Kings Of Convenience and a lead singing session that yielded two twelve-inch singles for DJ Greyboy. By fall Davenport was back in the studio working on what would eventually be known as "Game Preserve". Produced by Jon Erickson (Preston School of Industry, Moore Brothers), Davenport's latest offering hits a tighter, no-nonsense, analogue sound that is both classic and pioneering. Some of the East Bay's finest musicians were recruited to achieve this natural balance. Davenport's second long-player has more cameos than a hip-hop album. Members of Call And Response, Cake, Subtle and Dave Gleason's Wasted Days all contribute rich accompaniments, while stunning vocal harmonies by The Moore Brothers give many of Davenport's songs a West Coast, "Ventura Highway" kind of vibe that will undoubtedly set this CD apart from anything else out there.

This singer/songwriter was once the frontman of garage/blues band, The Loved Ones and blue eyed soul stirrers, The Kinetics. Both are Bay Area bands whose impact is still felt today from Oakland to Amsterdam. Having grown up in Berkeley California, Bart spent his childhood years raiding his hippie parents' record collection. The influence of three favorites, Arthur Lee/Love, Gil Scott Heron and the early solo work of Paul McCartney has sewn binding stitches into much of Davenport's own musical patchwork. Fusing old and new alike, he will not hesitate to use drum machines and is not a slave to any retro aesthetic. As Davenport has cryptically stated before, "We are living in the time of Great Gatsby and we simply cannot spend every single day reenacting the civil war."

Spring 2003 saw Davenport playing live shows again in the East Coast and England. He also touched down briefly in Barcelona, wowing an over-capacity crowd at Primavera Sound Festival. Over the years he has played with some of his favourite artists including John Lee Hooker, Mates Of State and Archer Prewitt.

The up and coming US label, Antenna Farm released "Game Preserve" in the fall of 2003. A licensing deal with Spanish label, Mushroom Pillow will reunite him with European fans from his previous incarnation and will firmly place him on the map with a new fan base. Davenport plans to tour the US in the summer and head over to Europe in the fall.