Brian Davis has rhythm not just in his soul, but in every single red blood cell in his body. Check out Webster’s latest dictionary and you just might find his picture next to the entry for percussionist; he is just that quintessential. A Portland native and one of the very earliest members of Pink Martini, Brian has been performing on a myriad of different rhythm instruments with Pink Martini on the road and on record since 1995. He has a voracious appetite for music and has traveled around the world in pursuit of his studies, working with legendary teachers from Jorge Alabe to Michael Spiro to Nana Vasconcelos (and many more). But it’s perhaps the Brazilian beat that has entranced him the most. Along with our late percussionist Derek Rieth, Brian is the co-founder and director of the Lions of Batucada, a Brazilian percussion and dance ensemble that has often collaborated with Pink Martini. He also teaches body percussion and samba workshops in public schools across the country, in addition to being a mainstay at California Brazil Camp. He is currently riding out the pandemic in his beloved second home nation, Brasil. Drop him a line and maybe he’ll give you a Zoom percussion lesson!
1. If you could have seen any musician in concert, dead or alive, who you never got to see live, who would it be?
Keith Moon, Frank Sinatra, John Coltrane
2. What is your favorite Pink Martini song to perform?
“Flying Squirrel”, “Let’s Never Stop Falling In Love”, “Aspettami”, “Brazil”
3. What Pink Martini song gets stuck in your head?
“Cante e Dance”
4. If you could have a side gig in any current band, which?
Batuque Digital, Foo Fighters, or Escola Mocidade de Padre Miguel
5. If you had a robot that could do one household chore for you… what would it be?
Vacuuming; but I very much enjoy sweeping
6. If you could instantly be fluent in any language, which?
7. Who is your favorite movie director?
Like being asked what my favorite style of music may be – I find it difficult to narrow this one. My film appreciations run from To Catch a Thief to Deadpool–all over the map.
8. What was the first concert you ever saw?
The Sonics, a cool, trashy rock group out of Tacoma, WA. I think it was at the Portland Armory.
As a youth, I played drum set on their song “The Witch” a lot. Really a lot.
9. If you could have one food appear instantly anytime, which?
Thai food. It is not readily available where I am, and I miss it.
10. What music would you choose as a soundtrack to your most triumphant moment?
The full 280 member bateria of Escola Mocidade de Padre Miguel – as heard leaving their quadra for the start of the street parade: totally swinging Samba Batucada.
Kinda loud, and really exhilarating.
11. What’s your favorite sweet/dessert?
Maracujá mousse, chocolate mousse, or a fresh mango
12. What illustrated animal or object would star in your children’s book?
13. Pride of Lions, Pod of Whales… what would you call a pack of squirrels?
A squirrel squad
14. Are you on the party bus or sleepy bus?
I love exploring the places we get to perform in the world … so most often I sleep on the bus so as to walk in the day.
And I do like parties.
15. What is your favorite non-musical hobby?
At present, growing food. But I really like to walk, and I love shooting hoops
16. If you were instantly skilled enough to have any one other occupation in the world besides musician, what would you choose?
17. If you had complete creative control, what book would you like to turn into a movie?
IQ84 by Haruki Murakami
18. What is your favorite city in the world?
Portland, Rio de Janeiro, New York, São Paulo, Paris. Turns out I have five
19. What’s the most fun thing about being in Pink Martini?
Getting to play music with great musicians, touring the world, and participating in the arc from the beginning until now
20. How did you choose your musical instrument?
The typical story; piling up the pots, boxes, and pans and going at it. The instruments chose me
21. How are you keeping sane and calm during this crisis and these weeks of quarantine?
I am in the middle of nowhere; Living since early March on a small ranch about thirty minutes down a dirt road outside of a town known as Porto Feliz, São Paulo, Brasil. Surrounded with love, growing food, playing music, swimming some; meditating for the world.