The Master of Deviation
Truth be told, I met Davis Murray-the handle he was given when launched into life a little over five decades ago in Brookfield, Massachusetts-a long time ago. A jack-of-all-nautical-trades, his reputation as a top-notch compass adjustor, navigator, boatbuilder, mechanic, offshore sailor, beach-cat racer, and all-around raiser of hell is firmly established up and down the Eastern Seaboard and throughout the Caribbean. And anyone who's ever done the annual Caribbean 1500 cruising rally knows him well. He's sailed all 18 rallies to date and serves as the event's fleet captain, troubleshooter, and general guiding light at its outset on Chesapeake Bay, under way via the daily radio schedule, and at its conclusion in the Virgin Islands, which he's called home for more than a decade.
Still, when I'd heard that Murray had picked up the guitar, formed a band, landed a record contract, and produced a CD, I was somewhat, shall we say, astonished. So when I found myself with some free time in the Caribbean last spring and he invited me to come hang out for a few days, I quickly accepted his offer. Which is how I found myself swaying to his beat with a bunch of Parrotheads on a lazy weekday afternoon.
For as it turns out, Barefoot Davis has written some pretty catchy tunes that he and his band-all of whom, he readily admits, are far more accomplished musicians than he is-execute with more than a little skill and flair. When the afternoon gig ends, to solid applause, I clink beers with him and admit that I'm quite pleasantly surprised.
"Yeah, well, someone came up and asked me to do some Buffett tunes," he says, sharply, sounding precisely like the Davis I've always known. "I figured they get enough of that on the ship. Hey, I like Buffett, but we're not a cover band. This is my island, and this is our sound. If they don't like it, they can split."
He pauses for an instant, the punch line briefly hanging in the air, and smiles broadly. "But you didn't see too many leave, did you?"