'Still Lives': Film Spotlights Local Artist
'Still Lives' Website
For more about the documentary and Nathan Davis, click here.
It’s been five years since Nathan Davis, decked out in his signature fedora, frequented the bars of Southern Pines and moved people with his heartfelt music.
Davis died of drug-related causes in August 2006. He was 30 years old.
Friends, like Brad Stockham and Will Page, say they are constantly reminded of Davis.
“Any time I see one of those hats,” Page says, “I’m taken back to him playing.”
A new documentary set to debut Tuesday tells the story of Davis, described in the movie trailer as a “wildly reckless spirit, a musical prodigy who felt the world around him too deeply, sacrificed everything for his music and found redemption through his songs.”
“Nathan Davis Still Lives,” a 96-minute documentary about the singer/songwriter born in Southern Pines, will be one of more than 120 showcased during the sixth Myrtle Beach Independent Film Festival held April 19-23 at Carmike Cinema 16-Broadway on the Beach in North Myrtle Beach, S.C.
The film, which will premiere at noon Tuesday, is directed and produced by Dean Garris in association with Faithless Music.
Garris called his documentary, a good portion of which was filmed in Southern Pines, a “good snapshot” of Davis’ life and music.
“It is interesting how so many people still feel that connection to him,” Garris said. “Amazing to see how many people still play his music. It’s just fascinating to see how he still lives.”
Stockham, an Aberdeen resident and musician who appears in the film, called Davis a big brother. To this day, Stockham incorporates Davis’ songs in his sets in tribute to his friend.
“His music is brutally honest,” Stockham said. “And it speaks for a lot of people in this area.”
On Aug. 22, 2006, Davis was found dead at his grandmother’s home in Pinehurst. The medical examiner’s report listed the cause of death as methadone poisoning. The death was ruled accidental, and the report indicated that cocaine may have been a factor.
He was one of three relatively young men who died suddenly that week of similar causes.
Born in Southern Pines in 1976, Davis was a singer/songwriter who was an accomplished guitarist and pianist, and a talented vocalist who played mandolin on occasion. He frequently played gigs at local bars, like O’Donnell’s Pub. He was best known locally for his work with The Nathan Davis Band.
Davis’ death came just as he thought his music career was beginning to take off. He had released four albums and earned a loyal following across the Southeast. He was recording his next album with Grammy-nominated producer John Custer at the time of his death.
Using an extensive archive of video, performance footage, photos and interviews with family, friends, musicians and colleagues, Garris tells Davis’ story “from his troubled years of self-discovery” to his “ultimate rise as a singer-songwriter on the cusp of greatness.”
“During this process,” Garris says, “I learned that Nathan was a more successful musician than I first imagined.”
Garris first met Davis in 2003 while working on a video project for a band. He was struck by Davis’ talent immediately.
“He was a fantastic musician,” Garris said. “I was wondering why he was playing in these small pubs and bars.”
Garris and Davis had only occasional contact in the next few years. In 2009, Garris learned of Davis’ death and decided he wanted to tell the musician’s story.
His extensive research and tireless work listening to music and interviewing those who knew Davis left him with a detailed portrait of a musician.
“I think this is a film that musicians will flock to because it is a portrait of the ups and downs in the life of musician,” Garris said. “They’ll say, ‘That’s what a musician’s life is really like.’”
Stockham has seen the film and said it will have wide appeal.
“Anybody who doesn’t know Nathan would walk away from this film and feel like they knew him,” Stockham said. “It’s about the music, and in the end all Nathan wanted was for people to listen to his music.”
This is the sixth year for the Myrtle Beach International Film Festival, which touts itself as a chance for filmmakers to submit their work for a “unbiased review.”
According to the festival’s website, films are assessed on technical and artistic value, uniqueness, style, and how far the project was taken based on the resources available.
“We have some really great films, outstanding directors,” said Jerry Dalton, of Dalton Pictures, the group that puts on the festival.
This year’s categories are: short (30 minutes or less), animation, feature project, documentary, music video and anything goes.
Tickets can be purchased at the box office before the screening at regular ticket prices, which range from $5.50 to $8.75.
Attendees can purchase a five-ticket pass for $30, which allows them into any five blocks of their choice. An all all-access pass for all the screenings is available for $100.
Q&A sessions will take place after each block of films. A block of films is on a two-hour screening schedule throughout each day. The first block begins at noon, and the final block begins at 9:45 p.m. Inside each block there may be one feature-length film. It could include a feature length film and two or three shorts, animations, documentaries, music videos, etc.
Those wishing to purchase tickets in advance can call Dalton Pictures at (843) 497-0220 or inquire by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.
Dalton said Garris’ film is a quality documentary that is the perfect mix of technical and directorial skill and strong subject matter.
“It’s not always interesting to do a documentary on one person, but this was because Nathan Davis had so much character, so much life,” Dalton said. “Everyone he seemed to come in contact with had a special relationship with him. I never had the pleasure of meeting him, but I would have liked to. There was something very special about him.”
Contact Tom Embrey at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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