John Davis & The Cicadas - El Pulpo CD
John Davis, previously of The Folk Implosion with Lou Barlow, has released El Pulpo, his new album with a backing band ("The Cicadas") that features Peter Hughes (The Mountain Goats), Andrew Levi-Hiller (Yairms/Alhhla), Wendy Allen (Balustrade Ensemble), Jonathan Henderson (Kaira Ba), and improv trombone player Jeb Bishop.
Recorded in North Carolina with producer Scott Solter (Superchunk, Okkervil River), El Pulpo is a dense, experimental concept album about corporate corruption in the food industry and related issues like (im)migration, mass incarceration, public health, and the stock market.
El Pulpo was inspired by Raj Patel's Stuffed and Starved and many other similar texts. Its title translates as "The Octopus" -- after the derisive nickname that union organizers in Central America gave to the United Fruit Company because of its tentacle-like grip on countries like Honduras and Guatemala -- but the album also sheds light on other octopi like Coca-Cola, Blue Cross/Blue Shield, and Drexel Burnham Lambert.
John works as a public school teacher and activist in Durham, North Carolina, and a synergistic relationship evolved between the recording studio and the local community throughout the making of the album. When he wasn't in the studio with Solter, he was teaching in a school that serves many children of immigrants from some of the countries referenced in his lyrics.