Through all the career changes, address changes and bands, two things have remained constant for Trevor “Bones” Davis: a love of music and a passion for teaching. His parents deserve most of the credit for instilling these passions. Bones’ father was an opera-singing adventure boating guide, and his mother, a pop-music-loving swim 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 The Flying Dutchman, Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath to the inspirational Afro-Cuban music of Santana. He went to his first Santana concert before his 13th birthday and recollected the memory fondly: “There were four drummers on stage. Afro-Cuban rocked my world. The ‘world’ side of my musical taste emerged then.”
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.”
Nonetheless, Bones continued to sneak in time on the drums whenever he could. He even brought the school’s 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 six,” 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 Cs they would buy me a drum set. I couldn’t do it,” he said.
So at the young age of 14, Bones bought his first set, a vintage mother-of-pearl Ludwig for $200. Drum lessons started soon after. “I payed (for the lessons) myself, so I learned a lot.”
One month into Bones’ sophomore year of high school, 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 body and abilities on the trombone and drums. “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,” Bones joked.
His formal drum training began during his 4 years in the Coast Guard, studying under two teachers twice a week. “I jammed with anyone willing.”
After tour of duty with the Coast Guard, Bones toured Europe with his band, Slap in the Face, for seven years. He 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. The Slap in the Face song was titled “Jello Party.”
Bones said the band had a pretty devoted following, and during a six-week Europe 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.”
When he left London, Bones 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 their way to play a gig in Leadville, they picked up two weekday nights at Victoria Tavern. “The first night, there were 20 people at The Vic. The second night, there was a line out the door.” 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 he said “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. But we made three albums, we had a good run. I wrote a lot of the material on the third album.”
After quitting life on the road, Bones focused his attention on his solo career. He toured as Bones Solo Ensemble for 3 years. Coinciding with his solo career was teaching accredited courses at Colorado Mountain College in Leadville. He taught an accredited Afro-Cuban percussion class and an accredited guide course.
Bones’ first taste in producing music was with the Salida girl band Red Bandana. The middle-school-aged band “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, and 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 his wife, 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, (organize) school education performances and (teach) ongoing classes,” Bones said, adding that most of the programs are after-school and Friday enrichment classes. Currently, Bones teaches music four days a week. He teaches three Rok Skool bands, three marimba ensembles and he has private students.
Bones is also plays drums for two classic rock bands, Salida Din and Hairitage. While improvisational music is his favorite, he said playing in those bands brings a whole different challenge. “I practice every day. Hairitage and Salida Din requires a lot of practicing. There are 70-80 songs, and we play them note-for-note. We take on hard stuff too, complicated music.”
Recently one of his Rok Skool bands opened for one of his classic rock bands, and Bones said he enjoyed watching his students perform more than he enjoyed performing. It was the first time he experienced both in stark contrast, having the performances back-to-back. “I like ensemble work. To see them play, I prefer that to performing.”