Jeff Davis, from the band Boss Hogg. Photo by Nicky Almasy.
You’ve no doubt already heard about our Dukes of Hazzard-inspired 4th of July party coming up this Sunday at Boxing Cat Brewery on Fuxing Lu. We’re really excited to have a very talented trio of musicians — they’re calling themselves Boss Hogg — performing all afternoon. We recently caught up with Boss Hogg member Jeff Davis, who told us a little bit about the group.
Tell us a little bit about the band Boss Hogg and its members.
Boss Hogg is me, Tom Pang and Shawn Watters. I had played lots of different kinds of music back in California: rock and roll, country and folk, blues, roots music — and I was even in a nine-piece punk polka band called Polkacide. So I guess I like many styles, which is a good thing because now I’m a partner at a music bar called Bee Dees.
I met Tom when I first came to China in 2006. Shortly after I arrived in Shanghai, I started playing sessions at The Blarney Stone on Dongping Lu. Everybody told me I had to meet these two bluegrass musicians from Inner Mongolia, Tom and Jerry. I hooked up with them and we played together at Yao Ming’s Texas BBQ, Yeehaw, across the road from Jingan Temple. Jerry is a great guitar and banjo player and Tom shreds on the mandolin. He studied classical violin for years but had enough of it and then met Jerry who introduced him to bluegrass and the mandolin. The two instruments have the same tuning so he hit the ground running. He’s a good enough player that he got a scholarship to study at the Berklee School of Music in Boston last year. If you ever have a chance to catch their band Lan Cao, which combines bluegrass and Mongolian music, don’t miss it. [See videos here, here and here.]
Shawn Watters is from Grant’s Pass, Oregon. After touring the US with legendary country singer Rose Maddox in her Cadillac, he came to China in 1991 to play country music and returned in ’96. He stayed 12 years playing country, folk and rock an roll all around China. I met Shawn at The Blarney when he came back again last year and the three of us have been playing together off and on since then.
Describe your sound. What can party-goers expect to hear? Any special songs you have planned for the 4th of July?
As you might imagine from our personal musical histories our sound is somewhat eclectic, but we do what folks these days call roots music, country, rock and roll and a touch of blues for good measure. Shawn is bringing his Telecaster for some fancy pickin’ and working up “Good Ol’ Boys,” the Dukes of Hazzard theme song. I’m gonna sing Robert Mitchum’s classic ode to haulin’ moonshine, “The Ballad of Thunder Road.” I hope I can remember all the words. And if we’re lucky, Tom will do some Mongolian throat singing on “Ghost Riders in the Sky.”
So, which one of you is Boss Hogg? Do you have your white suit steamed and pressed?
Well, I guess I’m the logical choice to be Boss Hogg since my given name is Jeff Davis, but I can’t wear a white suit cause I’d get it dirty too quick. We’ll leave that honor to someone in the costume contest.
Check out these two tracks from Shawn Watters’ album “Holding Something Special”: