If you’ve spent enough time in Bay View, you’ve probably encountered Matt Davis. Since moving to Milwaukee in the mid ’90s, the London expat has made an indelible mark on local rockabilly, psychobilly, and swing music with his upright bass work in bands like The Swingin’ Cools and The Uptown Savages. Through the years, the neighborhood character who most affectionately refer to as “Matt The Ratt” has also helped countless customers out while working at Rush-Mor Records and Frank’s Power Plant. Now, it’s Davis who needs Milwaukee’s help.
On an especially foggy night two months ago, Davis was in a motorcycle accident, which left him with head trauma and a number of other serious injuries. The accident has impacted the countless people the opinionated musician has touched in his time in Milwaukee. Rush-Mor owners Dan DuChaine and Bill Rouleau were among the first friends “Matt The Ratt” made when he moved to town more than 20 years ago. Taken by both his blunt personality and his musical acumen, the owners of the record store offered him a job.
“He came to the shop and immediately was a great sparring partner,” DuChaine says. “He was very adamant about what he liked and what he didn’t like. He doesn’t mince words.”
Davis has regularly worked at the shop since late 1996. At the time of the accident, he worked at Rush-Mor almost every Sunday. Through his time at the beloved record store, his work in various bands, his unabashed love of the Tottenham football club, and his memorable interactions with customers while he was behind the pine at Frank’s, the European export has woven himself into the fabric of what makes Bay View special. In his time of need, local businesses, an army of friends, and Milwaukee musicians are stepping up to raise money for him and to let him know what he means to them during two benefits planned this month.
“I think it’s a testament to his character that all these bands and all these people are coming out to help,” Rouleau says.
Dick Satan trio will play the Sunday, November 5 benefit at Frank’s Power Plant. The band’s eponymous frontman says he’s known Davis for “at least 10 years” and the two have bonded over music, soccer, and “blighty” things like meat-flavored crisps (which they buy for each other when one travels across the pond). Dick Satan trio’s decision to play Sunday’s show was an easy one to make.
“I volunteered to play the benefit because he’s a community fixture and has told me tales of The Ace Cafe, which I neglected to see while living in London,” Satan says.
Sunday’s event will feature eight bands, a wealth of silent auction items, 50/50 raffles throughout the day, burlesque performances, and what’s sure to be an aura of good will and support for an incomparable Bay View character who could use a helping hand on his path to recovery.
“He’s fucked up. He’s sustained some pretty serious head trauma, but he’s definitely shown progress,” Rouleau says. “He’s got a long road back, but if anybody can do it, he’s belligerent enough to will himself back to health.”