Singer/songwriter Karen Davis has a great passion for performing. She taught herself to play guitar at age 9, so she could perform with her elementary school folk choir. At Cardinal Spellman High School, she competed and frequently won with the Cardinal speech team, nurturing her drive and allowing her to work on her intense, direct style. Karen began developing her aggressive, rhythm-driven guitar style, a la Pete Townshend. Next, she discovered Led Zeppelin and Yes; falling in love with the lush, layered acoustic guitars and pastoral images. She’s been working with these styles ever since.
After graduation from New York University, Karen played several nights a week on the Greenwich Village open mic scene, scoring solo and band gigs at various clubs. Playing open mics, gigging, keeping a band together and working a day job got to be a bit much. Jettisoning the band, Karen kept up her solo work, playing every Sunday afternoon at CBGBs Gallery for about a year. Joining the Black Rock Coalition, allowed her to open for funk-metal band Living Colour. Her music was featured on the Coalition’s WBAI Radio show, Strange Vibrations from the Hardcore leading to a live performance on BAI later that year.
The Sidewalk Café became a regular gig spot for Karen; she was even crowned Queen of Anti-Folk. Through this, she met singer/songwriter Lisa St. Ann, who fell in love with Karen’s driving innovative rhythm guitar style. Lisa drafted Karen for one of her tours; inspiring Karen with her business savvy and ambition. Karen sent out even more material, netting regular gigs at New Jersey acoustic spots: Chapter One Books (Highland Park), Greene’s Bean Café (Hackettstown), Starbuck’s (Jersey City) and The Java Joint (Toms River). Karen finally hit the road herself, touring New England colleges in 2001.
Karen continues to be a force in the New Jersey underground music scene. Jersey City’s Art House featured her for months in the opening sequence in their public access show. Several times she was the featured musical artist in Jersey City’s Grace Church Films at Grace series. She was also the featured artist in the Cathedral Arts Festival, performing and discussing her work with the community in the Gallery Talks segment. Add to this list appearances on Brooklyn Cable TV, live radio spots and internet radio performances, and you’ve got a woman who gets around indeed.
Two years ago, she began performing with singer/guitarist Joe Pla. The duo went as far south as Floyd County, VA to a beautiful winery in the Blue Ridge Mountains. They also went up to Massachusetts - the Mattoon Festival in Springfield and the cable TV show Home Grown in Greenfiled. Emack and Bolio's Ice Cream Shop (Albany, NY) has added Karen and Joe to their roster of regular performers. They plan to do more touring, but are looking to expand to the Carolinas and Maine. Karen and Joe continue to play Jersey City bars and coffeehouses whenever they can.
Between indie rock gigs, Karen and Joe keep in good musical shape performing in New York City nursing homes and private parties. In addition, Karen works for Hospital Audiences, Inc., performing two to four times a week in various mental health care facilities. What nthey love most about this is the opportunity to play great songs for truly appreciative audiences. "I always loved 50s rock and roll and show tunes, but never got to sing them in the rock bands I was in", Karen said recently. She went on to say, "When we play in a nursing home, we get to play all those terrific songs for people who know and love them. It's a great feeling to know that something you played made someone else's day." Those tunes also give Joe a chance to stretch out as a lead guitarist. "You can really rip on the 50s stuff!", he enthused in a recent interview.
The next move is a recording a new CD with Joe: “He’s a great guitarist and adds to my writing immensely.” Karen explains. About the recording, she adds, “I’m so looking forward to it!. I’m planning lots of acoustic guitar layering, very lush and melodic tunes. Somewhat of a change, but there’ll still be lots of double time and aggression. Can’t do without that now can you?” Check out the latest tunes at her and at www.blackchickrock.com.