Other John Davises.6: John Davis, Shrimper

SC Shrimping
Disambiguation:  the issue haunts all John Davises, musical and otherwise.

How to reach today’s web surfing music consumer when your name is ubiquitous?  In the record store era, folks had only had to know enough about the alphabet to figure out that John Davis would come shortly before John Denver in the D section.  Know enough about music to distinguish John Davis from the John Davis Monster Orchestra or Blind John Davis, and Superdrag from Korn?  You’re good to go.

Today, potential audiences are easily distracted online by links to articles about prominent namesakes in a wide variety of fields.  “John Davis” is everywhere, touted as The Greatest Living American while bringing style and professional innovation to Tourism, Fine Art Galleries, consulting, cricket, trucking, Hollywood, Business AdministrationReal Estate, the Texas House of Representatives, and yes, of course, weightlifting:

Even the addition of a relevant search term doesn’t guarantee a successful outing on Google. Extensive analysis by the Shrimper records marketing department has detected serious loss of sales because web searches using the terms “John Davis – Shrimper” are being directed to an issue of the award-winning publication South Carolina Wildlife Magazine.  In their classic 2007 article, “Living for Shrimping, Shrimping For a Living,” author Ford Walpole interviews Captain John Davis, owner and operator of a shrimp boat.  Davis is portrayed as one of many dedicated old world craftsmen struggling in a threatening economic climate to hold onto to not just a job, but a way of life.  The author describes this way of life as a defining feature of the South Carolina coast, using poetic prose that sparkles like rays of sunshine bouncing off the surface of salt water:

If you have had the good fortune to enjoy firsthand the natural beauty of a South Carolina seashore, perhaps a distant shrimp boat enhanced your view. Indeed, framed by a warming sunrise and pitching on a rolling sea, the trawler seems somehow a living inhabitant of this place; the vessel’s outriggers take on the appearance of wings or fins. Eager gulls, pelicans and porpoises follow an indigenous, surrogate-mother ship, ready to return the craft’s by-catch to the food chain.”

Clearly an article written by an English teacher.

Fortunately, Davis grounds the author’s flights of fancy by directing his attention to the mud where the shrimp love to congregate.  “Good times,” he says, “are when you have low, minus-tides [that] flush shrimp out of the rivers during the summer.  They stir up the bottom,” he says, exposing shrimp that are “buried up” in the mud.  He also disarms his wide eyed interviewer’s tendency to romanticize his occupation by joking, “Where’s the best place to catch shrimp? Look where all the other boats are and start dragging there!” 

Shrimp catch

His characteristic practicality extends to his choice of footwear as well:  the man is not ashamed to wear crocs.  “John Davis thinks that rubber, ventilated Crocs brand clogs are the best footwear a shrimper could have,” the article reads. It quotes Davis’s effective defense of this fashion faux pas:  “I hate wearing those white boots; they’re hot, and the inside never dries out,” he laughs.”  


In addition to being down to earth, Davis is generous with his wisdom.  “You don’t catch anything the day after a Northeaster,” he tells the author.  When his wife Susan lets slip that “The second day after a Northeaster is very good,” John smiles when others might glare.  You know he’s only kidding when he blurts out, “But that’s a secret!”

As far afield from the musical underground as this article takes potential listeners, it leaves them with an important lesson for these economic times, which try shrimp boat Captians and musicians alike:  generosity gets us through.

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