Though active fairly consistently since the late '60s, exploratory San Antonio, Texas-based songwriter/musician Gary Davenport spent much of his musical life deep in underground circles.
Solo recordings as well as collaborative efforts with obtuse rock bands like Mannequin were released in impossibly small numbers on Davenport's own Closet Records label throughout the late '70s and early '80s, with entire pressings never reaching the public. In 2019, Numero Group issued Scattered Thoughts, a compilation gathering some of the best work from Davenport's eclectic body of work.
Davenport was born in San Antonio in 1955 and started his first band by the time he was 13. Throughout his teens, he played in various bands and was interested in the Beatles, prog bands like King Crimson, and more obscure folk and rock curios he found digging at the local record shop. In the mid-'70s, Davenport formed the experimental rock act Mannequin with a host of local musicians. The band played regional live shows and recorded two singles which were pressed in editions of 100 copies on Davenport's Closet Records. After seeing the Sex Pistols play an infamous show at San Antonio cowpoke venue Randy's Rodeo, the members of Mannequin switched their sound from introspective rock to more punk/new age. In between releasing small-batch records for local acts on Closet and work with Mannequin, Davenport worked on more toned-down solo material as well as collaborations with Mannequin member Mark Champion. Mannequin recorded an album's worth of material in 1981, but they couldn't afford to press copies of it, so it was shelved until 2013, when it was finally released under the title Wait No Longer. Davenport toyed with folk and new age styles throughout the '80s, recording and pressing a hauntingly beautiful 7" single "Sarra," the song being named after his then-girlfriend. After the records were pressed, Davenport thought more about how an ode to a new love would make his ex-girlfriend uncomfortable, and he grew so nervous about it he kept most of the copies of the pressing in storage for the next 30 years. Mannequin had fizzled out by 1983 and Davenport worked on synth-folk solo recordings as well as with a new band, Red Square. For much of the '90s, he made almost no music, working at the record store and self-reflecting while he waited for inspiration. New song ideas began coming to him in the early 2000s, but financial strains made it difficult for him to properly record new music. He worked in fits and starts on the material and ultimately released it in 2010 as Wonder Slips Away. By this time, Davenport's limited release records from the '70s and '80s had become sought after by collectors. Newfound interest in his work took off when "Sarra" was included on 2016 compilation Sky Girl, a stylistically diverse collection of private press rarities. In 2019, Numero Group released the 13-song collection Scattered Thoughts, a compilation including tracks by Mannequin as well as various solo and collaborative songs Davenport had released in his earlier days. ~ Fred Thomas, Rovi