Through all the career changes, address changes and bands, two things have remained constant for Trevor “Bones” Davis – his love for music and teaching.
Where these passions began can be directly credited to his parents. His father was an opera-singing, adventure-boating guide, and his mother, a pop music-loving, swimming instructor.
Growing up in Santa Fe, Bones said he was “in the water” helping with swim lessons from the age of 6, and began accompanying his father on sailboat lessons two years later.
When Bones was 12, his musical preferences evolved from Wagner’s “Flying Dutchman,” Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath to the inspirational Afro-Cuban music of Santana.
Bones went to his first Santana concert at the age of 12. “There were four drummers onstage. Afro-Cuban rocked my world. The worldly side of my musical taste emerged then,” Bones said.
In school, Bones pleaded to play the drums, but his father, an opera singer, vetoed that idea.
“My dad said I had to play a melodic instrument … so I played the trombone. I liked the slide of the trombone.”
However, Bones continued to sneak onto the drums whenever he could and even brought the schools’ set home from time to time.
“My teacher was cool. He let me take the drum set home. My mom would pull up in the Volkswagen bus and we’d load it up. Then I’d play in the parking lot (at her work) until she got off at 6,” he recalled.
While Bones said he was “pretty good” on the trombone and often played first chair, he always gravitated to the drums. “I was never good at school. My parents said if I could get all C’s they would buy me a drum set. I couldn’t do it.”
So at the age of 14, Bones bought his first set – a vintage mother of pearl Ludwig set for $200.
Drum lessons started soon after.
“I payed (for the lessons) myself, so I learned a lot,” he said.
One month into Bones’ sophomore year, he left and went to Alaska.
He was working in a fishery when he caught a glimpse of his future, a Coast Guard cutter.
Before his parents would allow him to leave high school, they said he would have to take the GED. Once he completed the test, which he admitted he found “incredibly easy,” he joined the Coast Guard.
The lifelong nickname, Bones, was quickly acquired aboard the ship, given for his tall, slender frame and his abilities on the trombone. “Bones was a pretty obvious nickname. I tried fighting it. The time I was in England everyone knew me as Trevor. But when I became a river guide, the application asked if I had a nickname and I wrote “Bones.” I guess I could’ve written anything,” he joked.
His formal drum training began during his four years in the Coast Guard from two different teachers twice a week. “I jammed with anyone willing,” Bones said.
After his service he toured Europe with his band, Slap in the Face, for seven years. Bones lived in London for 10 years, attending drum college at Drumtech and teaching percussion workshops when he wasn’t touring.
Bones said the Red Hot Chili Peppers stole a Slap in the Face intro “note-for-note” for the start to their song “Higher Ground.” “It was pretty freaking awesome,” he said with a grin.
Slap in the Face’s song was titled “Jello Party.”
Bones said the band had a pretty devoted following, and during a six-week European tour with Pegasus, “we became rock stars.”
While Bones has owned many drum sets, including four currently, the most memorable was the 12-piece Tama set he won from a Guitar Center in Los Angeles.
“It was autographed by all the top drummers in LA at the time. I toured Europe with that set for years,” he said.
When he left London he moved to California to return to his adventure-guiding roots. He ran sailboats to the Bahamas for a bit, however, he found it wasn’t his cup of tea. “I didn’t like the people – the ‘yachties.’”
After a few years running with river guides, traveling seasonally from California, Colorado and Belize, Bones joined up with the marimba band Jaka, based in Taos at the time. “That was a crazy band. The least we ever did was 225 gigs in one year.”
Bones found Salida through touring with Jaka. On the way to play in Leadville, they picked up two weekday nights at The Victoria Tavern. “The first night, there were 20 people at The Vic. The second night, there was a line out the door,” Bones said.
During that set, the band announced to the crowd, “We’re going to move here!”
Bones said he had been trying to get the band to leave Taos, where “there was no music scene.” Bones moved into a fellow drummer’s back room in Salida. However, the rest of the band “overshot the mark and moved to Boulder.”
A few years after moving to Salida, Bones left Jaka. “The road was killing me,” he said, “but we made three albums, we had a good run. I wrote a lot of the material on the third album.”
After leaving Jaka, Bones joined up with the Grateful Dead cover band, Shakedown Street. It was after one of their shows that Bones met his wife, Jill. Bones said learning Grateful Dead music was a fun challenge, but he got out after meeting Jill.
Feeling done with life on the road, Bones then focused his attention on his solo career. He toured as Bones Solo Ensemble for three years.
He also began teaching accredited courses at Colorado Mountain College in Leadville. He taught an accredited Afro-Cuban percussion class and an accredited guide course at CMC.
Bones’ first taste of producing music was with the Salida girl band Red Bandana. The middle school-aged band members “progressed quickly.” Bones coached them as a band and individually every week. In addition to obvious musical instruction, Bones also taught the band how to be stage performers. Producing came naturally to Bones. He didn’t know he had such a knack for it, or that he’d enjoy it so much.
In 2009 Bones and Jill launched Articipate, a nonprofit organization aimed at teaching the importance of arts through workshops, performances and educational programs.
“Articipate does four things: we offer scholarships for students to pursue their artistic disciplines; run (art) workshops, school education performances and ongoing classes.”
Bones said most of the programs are after-school and Friday enrichment classes. Currently, Bones teaches music four days a week. He teaches five Rok Skool bands and three marimba ensembles as well as private students.
New this year, he will be forming an electric band with Crest Academy students. Bones said it will be their music class, in addition to the marimba band. The Crest Academy moved into the Salida Boys and Girls Clubs building, allowing them to expand their number of students.
Bones explained that he is currently taking “a bit of a hiatus” from playing in bands himself – aside from the marimba band – which he said “is just fine with me. I’m focusing more on the kids.”
Articipate is working on launching a new program called Scrapyard, which will be a musical using all homemade instruments. Bones is writing the musical based on children’s stories that his sister wrote. He plans to incorporate local instrument builders and artisans to make the instruments. “It’s in the works right now. I’m writing the material, which is why I stepped back a bit from performing.”