We caught up with musician Mikaela Davis ahead of her upcoming performance at Park Theater Hudson as part of its ongoing monthly concert series, Second Saturday Sessions.
Mikaela Davis is a classically trained harpist who grew up in Rochester, whose love affair with the instrument began way back in elementary school. “I was brought up going to lessons and being in orchestras,” Davis recalled. She continued her musical education at the Crane School of Music in Potsdam and started playing with her drummer Alex Cote as a duo. Rather than go on to graduate school, Davis decided to expand her band and hit the road touring, landing an early spot at Austin City Limits. She told us, “I just realized I was more passionate about playing with my band and touring than necessarily playing in an orchestra, so that’s what I decided to pursue.”
While playing a harp in a band may seem unconventional to a mainstream audience, Davis compares her harp to a guitar or a piano, stating “I just kind of use it as just another instrument in the band.” With all of her band members having a diversity of influences, their sound has strong jazz influences, with Davis counting Alice Coltrane and Dorothy Ashby among her harp influences. But her sound defies easy comparison.
“I don’t know how to describe my band— I don’t, really. I’m not going to make up a genre or pick a genre really…we like rock music, we love Neil Young and Bob Dylan and the Grateful Dead.” Davis has shared the stage with Bob Weir [founding member of The Dead] and joined Marco Benevento, Joe Russo and Christian McBride for a once in a lifetime quartet in the Mockingbird Session. Davis and her band have opened for a diversity of other acts, including Lake Street Dive and Rubblebucket.
Davis’ connection to Park Theater was serendipitous, triggered by her move to the Hudson Valley in the fall of 2020, right in the middle of the pandemic. While there were a multitude of reasons for her relocation from Rochester with two of her bandmates, there was a domino of introductions across old friends that landed her center stage in the musical renaissance that’s happening in Hudson, NY.
A single introduction from Greg Bell, a music promoter in Albany, led her to Terry Lynch (Catskill Concerts) and Brian Goss (3 Academy Studios), which subsequently led her to Shanan Magee, Goss’s partner in the Catskill-based studio and rehearsal space where Davis rehearses prior to her live shows. Davis told us, “It’s such a small world, once you get down to it. Everyone knows each other and that’s what I really love about the community around here.”
As far as her show at Park Theater on Saturday, Davis teased us with the following: “We’ll be playing some of our songs, and maybe some other peoples’ songs, too.” The band is set to release a new single about a week after Saturday’s show called “Don’t Stop Now.” Davis had this to say on the subject, “Who knows, maybe someone will be walking down Warren Street and will see us playing, not knowing there was a show, and they’ll be treated to the first live performance of our new song.”
Mikaela Davis and her band plays at Park Theater Hudson’s upcoming ‘Second Saturday Sessions’ on Saturday, June 12, starting at 7pm. The show is free and is being held outdoors at 723 Warren St. in Hudson, NY. Find Mikaela online, and on Spotify and Instagram.