ARTS AND ENTERTAINMENT
Davidson’s Musical Birdsnest
One of my favorite places on Main Street is a second-floor shop. It’s a place where you can hear music floating from the open windows in the summer and learn how to play anything from bass to ukulele to drums. Or want to learn how to sing correctly? This is the place.
If you live in Davidson, chances are you know the owner of The Birdsnest, Billy Jones. His band is seen often on the town green and he has been a staple at Summit Coffee since he convinced the original owner, Craig Blaney, to allow him to play in the corner. He quickly became a Thursday night regular known as The Summit All Star Band, making this local coffee shop into Billy’s favorite place to gig to this day.
When talking to Billy, you are struck by his humility, easy going spirit, and laid-back nature. Mostly a self-taught musician, Billy grew up singing on Sundays with his three sisters. He even remembers the date he first picked up a guitar with the intention of learning – August 9, 1995, and by 2006, he had a cd of his own. Just like many artists, Billy hoped to play music on the side while he worked his day job. But, after a friend, who attended Billy’s first cd release party, asked if he would consider giving his son guitar lessons, Billy wondered if his love of music could turn from hobby to career. And, lucky for Davidson, it did!
Billy opened The Birdsnest and was not only teaching lessons to his own students, but had to hire additional instructors to keep up with demand. I have, personally, been amazed at my own daughter’s progress after taking lessons with Billy. He catered to her ability to play by ear and played duets with her during lessons, even allowing her to choose her own instructional music off the radio, rather than using sheet music. Her songwriting really took off several years ago after a camp with Billy.
Billy lives up to his goal of “inspiring a child to develop something in and for themselves…to build their confidence and to trust in their abilities to achieve.” His desire to instill a love of music into kiddos inspired him to start a nonprofit, called Second String. Partnering with Ada Jenkins, they locate students hoping to learn music, who may not have the resources to acquire lessons or instruments.
“We supply them with free lessons and instruments,” Billy said. “And we ask them in return to teach someone else in their community when they get the opportunity.”
If you have ever wanted to learn an instrument or to hone your vocal skills, I would highly recommend a visit to The Birdsnest. Not only is that rare combination of inspirational and laid back, but the price is right, too. Billy’s website can give you more information about lessons and where you next can hear Billy Jones and the Pocket.
Kristen Feighery is a self-taught folk artist, originally from southeastern Kentucky. She spends her days painting anything not nailed down (and some things that are), chauffeuring one daughter to sporting events, having tea parties with the other, and writing a blog. She's also married to a rather large Irishman and has a pub in her house. Really.