10Qs with Erin ‘dilly dilly’ Davidson

Erin Davidson has been making music for over twenty years, most notably as a member or Cerebus Shoal and Sage Francis’ backing band, and as a solo artist under the name dilly dilly.  She frequently tours throughout the U.S. and Europe and can often be seen playing guitar, ukelele, the saw, and a handful of others.  In addition, she’s collaborated with fellow Maine musicians Sontiago, Lady Lamb the Beekeeper, A Severe Joy, and many more.

You can learn more by visiting SoundcloudFacebookYouTube, and her website dillydillymusic.com.

dilly dilly, photo by John A. Macy
dilly dilly, photo by John A. Macy

Where were you born?
I was born in Exeter, New Hampshire. I lived on a farm for the first 4 years of my life. (no I wasn’t born in a barn STOP ASKING! i keed i keed)

What brought you to Portland?
Well, i’ve lived around the Portland area practically my whole life. Went to high school in Westbrook, which is when I started playing music with my friends.

Do you have a day job, and if so, what is it?
I have a few *sniffle*. I tend bar at Port City Music Hall, State Theater and Black Tie catering company. Occasionally I work in the office and an an attendant in the cafe on the Amtrak Downeaster.

What was your most memorable gig?
My most memorable gig would probably be the first time we (Cerberus Shoal, the band I was in at the time) opened up for Sun City Girls in Seattle. We did a split EP with Alan Bishop in 2002 but this show was the first time we would officially meet them and I idolized their music growing up, so I was all kinds of excited. Alan, Charles, and Richard were all stand-up folks and the show was breathtaking. You don’t get a chance to play with and for your musical influences very often in your life and that show couldn’t have gone any better for me. To say I felt euphoric doesn’t even come close to the emotions my body and I felt, but it’ll have to do.

What was your worst gig?
Ohhh boy, I don’t like to shit talk so I’m gonna preface this by saying that I think Space Gallery is one of the greatest venues to play in Portland. That being said, I was asked to play Icing for New Years Eve one year and, without really thinking about what it was, said yes. long story short, there’s nothing like (and by “like” I mean “worse than”) playing ukulele in front of 300 people who are getting drunk and their main objective is to network. Even with my ukulele plugged into the PA and monitors, I couldn’t hear a note of what I was playing above the roar of the audience and felt more defeated than I ever have on stage. My five song set turned into a four song set and the most redeeming part of the evening was that my set ended early enough for me to go down to Port City and promptly stuff as much alcohol into my stomach as humanly possible before midnight to try and start the new year off on a better note than that one was ending.

What album or artist has most influenced you as a musician?
Hip Hop

What’s the one piece of musical equipment you can’t live without?
I’d say my hands. Yeah, My hands are the most important piece of musical equipment. Definitely, hands down, hands. My pops and mom gave me these hands. Such strong hands. They gave me the best gift any parent can give their children. I’m a lucky bird, when it all comes down to it. They allow me to try new instruments and ideas. I was born with great hands.

Any advice for a musician starting out?
I’ll give the best advice I ever got. Don’t listen to that little hater inside your head and, remember, you might be playing the same chords and singing the same notes that someone else has before you… but no one will ever play or sing in your voice. You’ve been given the gift of being unique. A snowflake in the world of sound, vision and creativity. It would be a shame to let that go to waste. The universe is relying on you.

What’s the origin behind your band name?
“dilly dilly” came from the first song I ever remember listening to in my life. My preschool teacher used to play Burl Ives’ version of Lavender Blue, and it stuck with me. I thought it an appropriate moniker for my musical endeavors.



What’s your musical guilty pleasure?
HOT 104.7… I love singing Justin Timberlake (et al.) at the top of my voice when I’m driving around. “IT’S LIKE YOU’RE MY MIRROR. oh oh. MY MIRROR STARING BACK AT ME. oh oh…..”

Bonus questions:

What was the first album/recording you owned?
The first one I remember owning is the Kenny Loggins Footloose 7″. When we were kids, my brother and I used to play it on one of those little plastic suitcase players at 78rpms and pretend we were chipmunks.

What are you listening to at the moment?
Honestly, I’ve been listening to the 24/7 comedy station on iheart radio like it’s going out of business. So much so, that I even fall asleep to it. I LOVE stand up comedy. Musically i’ve been wearing a hole in the album Wild Go by Dark Dark Dark and Rufus Wainwright’s self titled LP.

What was the best concert/musical performance you’ve attended?
SO MANY TO CHOOSE FROM… I’d have to say Jimmy Buffet when I was nine. It’s the show that started the gears in my head rolling to play and perform music. BOOM!

Stephen Quirk
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