Debbie Davis has a story to tell.
After contributing to dozens of presentations of others’ stories, she calls the shots on her first solo CD, “It’s Not the Years, It’s the Miles,” which was featured during a performance Thursday at Ogden After Hours, at the Ogden Museum of Southern Art.
Performing with Davis were Alex McMurray, guitar; Josh Paxton, piano; and Matt Perrine, tuba. Between sets, she was interviewed by George Ingmire, producer of the “New Orleans All the Way Live” radio program for WWOZ.
McMurray wrote three of the songs on the CD: the title track, which Davis performed first; “Everything Right is Wrong Again,” which she said was inspired by a whiskey-drenched conversation at the Circle Bar; and “I’m Looking at You.”
Local songwriter Paul Sanchez’s work was also featured, with “Don’t Be Sure” and “Mexico.”
Presenting the music in a historical context, Davis discussed “You’d Be Surprised” by Irving Berlin (1919) as an example of the racy, double-entendre songs that became much rarer after 1922, when Will H. Hays, head of the newly formed Motion Pictures Producers and Distributors of America censor board, capitalized on a recent scandal to take a stand for morality in Hollywood. In September 1921, actor Roscoe “Fatty” Arbuckle, who gained fame in silent films, was accused in connection with the death of actress Virginia Rappe four days after a party Arbuckle attended. Arbuckle was acquitted after three trials, but the damage to his reputation was done.
The first set also included “You Can’t Say I Didn’t Try,” released by Connee Boswell in 1956 three years after it was recorded; and “I’m No Good,” by Amy Winehouse, sounding fresh yet again with tuba and ukulele instrumentation. Davis said her next project would be a ukulele and tuba duo with Perrine, her husband, which they had decided just that evening to call The Big Ballyhoo.
The second set included “Blue Gold” by Myshkin, now living in Oregon; “Blue, Red and Grey” by Pete Townshed, from “The Who by Numbers”; “Mama Goes Where Papa Goes” by Jack Yellin; “Skylark” by Hoagy Carmichael; “Would You Like to Play the Guitar?,” with hilarious lyrics by Pat Donohue; “Sunny Afternoon” by Ray Davies’ “Things We Said Today,” by John Lennon and Paul McCartney; “I Wan’na Be Like You” by Lucy Woodward; “The Masochism Tango” by Tom Lehrer; and “D’yer Mak’er” by Led Zeppelin.
Davis’ performances this month include:
- Wednesday, Oct. 17, with Tom McDermott at Chickie Wah Wah, 8 p.m.
- Sunday, Oct. 21, with Alex McMurray, Josh Paxton and Matt Perrine, at Three Muses, 8 p.m.
- Friday, Oct. 26, with Paul Sanchez and the Rolling Road Show, at the Voodoo Music Experience, 5:15 p.m.
- Saturday, Oct. 27, with Ingrid Lucia’s New Orleans Nightingales, at the Voodoo Music Experience, 4:30 p.m.
- Sunday, Oct. 28, with Meschiya Lake and Banu Gibson at Three Muses, 8 p.m.
Another event to note is the CD release party for McMurray’s third release, “I Will Never be Alone in This Land,” at dba on Thursday, Oct. 11, at 10 p.m.