JoAnn and Monte share musical intimacy
Alaska duo returns to the delight of loyal fans
By Randi Somers
JoAnne and Monte
In almost every sense of the word, “intimate” best describes the performance of popular Alaska musicians JoAnn and Monte Davis. The duo returns home from Texas for a concert tour, resuming a 30-year musical career.
Although “intimate” could apply to the close quarters of their Homer venue, Fresh Sourdough Express Bakery, it also describes their soul-warming music that brings tears of joy, laughter and appreciation to many.
With nine CDs to their credit, JoAnn and Monte recently produced “Leftover Love Songs,” which is scheduled for general release this fall and will be available at the concert. JoAnn’s brother Dave Ratliff, who has played lead guitar with them for years, accompanies them on four cuts.
“With the exception of ‘Please Shut Up,’ which is about quieting your mind, all the cuts on ‘Leftover Love Songs’ are exactly that,” Monte said. “They are songs we never got around to recording.”
According to Monte, the duo plays “acoustic music for the soul.”
“We incorporate blues, jazz, country, rock, folk, Americana and bluegrass,” he explained. “Dang near everything except polka. We love good music and we love having fun at our performances.”
That sense of fun was evident at last Friday’s performance, as the pair evoked levity with songs and dialogue that helped balance out the more moving pieces.
Performing cuts from their new CD, as well as old favorites, JoAnn and Monte strummed the heartstrings and tickled the funny bones of listeners. Among their earlier songs, “Greatland Symphony” relays the joys of sailing the Kenai Fjords.
Last Friday, Monte’s brother, David, joined them on the tiny Sourdough stage for a few numbers, inducing knowing laughter with “Rainbows and Women – the ones that got away.”
Invited to sing along with “Simple Song,” the lively crowd of Homer fans jumped in with great enthusiasm. Many had already been singing along all evening with their favorites, lyrics memorized through years of familiarity and devotion the duo’s intricate harmonies.
Ending the concert wasn’t easy as fans continued to call out favorites late into the evening. By request, they concluded the concert with “The Alaska Flag Song” as the crowd arose from their seats for a standing ovation.
In their five-year hiatus away from the music spotlight, JoAnn and Monte relocated to Fort Worth, Texas and opened a travel agency specializing in sending travelers to Alaska.
“We weren’t sure if we were on sabbatical or retired from music,” JoAnn said. “We ate, drank, slept and loved our music career for over 30 years. There was no conscious decision to stop; it just happened. But it feels awesome to be writing, playing, singing, recording and performing again.”
Virtually speaking in harmony, the two agreed that being back in Alaska and making music again is “…unbelievably special. Exhilarating. Peaceful yet electrifying.” JoAnn’s heartwarming rendition of “Forever Friends,” summed up the emotion.
The pair’s fans concur, packing rooms wherever they play, whistling, stomping, cheering and sitting or standing as close to the stage as possible.
“Intimate” does best describe the feeling that goes with JoAnn and Monte’s performance, as they sing straight from their souls and into the listeners’ hearts.
After Friday’s show here, they are headed to Palmer for the State Fair where they play Sept. 7 at 2 p.m. at the Borealis Theatre. Their performance is followed by Lulu Small and Mr. Whitekeys.