South Jersey Singer-Songwriter Series: Christopher Davis-Shannon — An Uncommon Standard

By: Follow South Jersey Staff

Christopher Davis-Shannon. Photo credit: Angel Esparza

South Jersey Singer-Songwriter Series will feature profiles on active singer-songwriters living, working, and performing in the South Jersey area. 

In today’s musical world of heavy beats, looped sampling, distorted guitars, and pounding bass, local singer-songwriter Christopher Davis-Shannon offers an alternative to the alternative.

Davis-Shannon, who was born and raised in Pitman, Gloucester County, specializes in pre-World War II popular music in the styles of jazz, folk, ragtime, or blues. Whether playing his acoustic guitar, ukulele, or upright bass, his catalog of original tunes are also indicative of that style.

“I didn’t necessarily choose this style but grew more into it over the years,” Davis-Shannon says. “I grew up with a healthy diet of jazz and my brother first burned me a King Oliver CD when I was about 15 or so. I’ve always had a deep fascination with the American idiom and this music encompasses that more than any other art form.”

Davis-Shannon. Photo credit: Josh Buchter

Many of his other musical influences include Chet Baker, Leon Redbone, Jelly Roll Morton, and Django Reinhardt.

Davis-Shannon says that he has been working on his craft practically his entire life.

“I started playing music at a young age,” he says. “While the instruments I’ve used as outlets over the years have changed, the journey has been continuous. It helps to grow up in a household full of music.” 

While Davis-Shannon performs many standards from the first four decades of the 20th century, he is a prolific writer of songs indicative of the era.

“Writing has always been a natural part of music for me,” he says. “Creation is key to keeping older forms from becoming stale. I’ll typically write short stories in a stream of consciousness style and pick lines from that to start the song.”

Sometimes out of many written pages, he may find one to work on.

“From there it is editing and editing until the story seems solidified. If I have a specific style in mind for a tune I will sometimes choose the chord structure first, record that, and drive around humming to get a melody and then edit lyrics accordingly to fit,” he says.

Davis-Shannon was introduced to musical instruments as a young child, but it wasn’t until the fourth grade when his passion for music really opened up.

“I took a few violin lessons as a child and dabbled in piano (my mother and brother are both pianists), but my obsession really started in 4th grade playing clarinet,” he says. “I played all throughout school as well as singing in chorus and at about the age of 14, I picked up bass to play in a rock band with some friends.”

He played shows with his band throughout high school.

“We were terrible, and we loved it,” Davis-Shannon says. “The bass guitar ended up becoming my primary instrument and traveled with me to college.”

Davis-Shannon on upright bass with Bill Haley’s Comets. Photo credit: Davis-Shannon Facebook page.

Currently, along with playing solo performances, Davis-Shannon is a member of Bill Haley’s Comets and has performed nationwide.

“The drummer in Bill Haley’s Comets, and my close friend, Rich Flamini, and I had played together in rhythm sections for other bands for some time,” he says. “He gave me a ring one night while I was staring at butterflies in the Academy of Natural Sciences, and I had an audition for the Comets the next week.” 

While the rockabilly style was largely unfamiliar to Davis-Shannon, that did not stop him

“I didn’t even know what rockabilly was, let alone how to slap on an upright bass, but somehow they let me in,” he says. “It’s been a blast playing with them over the years.” 

Davis-Shannon performs with Billy Haley’s Comets about 15 times a year which gives him enough time to work on his own projects.

While the COVID-19 pandemic has kept him from regular live performances, Davis-Shannon has been an online musical presence. He has live-streamed concerts from his home as well as offering virtual ukulele lessons. 

Many of his songs as well as his ukulele lessons can be found on his website, (without the ‘m’).

Davis-Shannon has released eight full albums which can be found here: along with the track, Daffodil.

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