In the Montague Reporter 28 July 2023
Radio Interview, The Fabulous 413, NEPM, with Monte Belmonte, 18 Aug. 2023 (Begins at 17:32)
Radio Interview, WHMP with Bill Newman and Buz Eisenberg, 18 Sept. 2023 (Begins at 1:13:00)
By BELLA LEVAVI, Staff Writer
One of the many stories featured in Richie Davis’s third book focuses on a group of singers that meet every day on the Montague Common. The group, which includes Davis, has no leaders and has been singing continuously since the pandemic began.
I decided to join the group the day I interviewed Davis about his third book; there we sung a song about the new Donald Trump indictment, a song in-the-round featuring the rainy weather, and a song about empowerment. Davis sang the whole time, requesting songs at one point, all while resting on the pillar of the First Congregational Church of Montague and tapping his sandaled feet.
Davis explained in an interview that the group came together with no planning, no person controlling, and it has taken on a life of its own.
“We are so lucky there are people doing wonderful things all around us,” Davis said. “I was always trying to show the amazing people who are here.”
His new book, “Flights of Fancy, Souls of Grace,” is the last (he claims) in a series of three, and features an anthology of articles he has written throughout his career that shows the zest for life we possess in Franklin County and the surrounding area.
Davis spent much of his time at the Recorder as an energy reporter, following stories about the two, now-decommissioned, power plants as well as farms and renewable energy. At the same time covering his beat, he would write feature articles on whatever he found interesting, including yogurt or time zones.
“I would think why can’t I do that story,” Davis said, and then would chase it.
While working on interesting, often unobvious stories, he would think about the larger themes. He is known in the Recorder newsroom for leaving no stone unturned, even in his news articles, and that is exemplified in the new book.
“I was always asking what is the larger issue,” Davis said. “While deciding on stories in the book I wanted stories that had a universal appeal.”
He explained this book would be great for people just moving to the area to understand what is going on here. It highlights many of the hidden dimensions that often get lost upon first glance at Franklin County.
Davis went through a massive re-editing process to get the book to the form it’s currently in at bookstores in the area. Many of the chapters include articles published over the span of large chunks of time, and included sidebars of different articles. In creating the book, he combined, condensed and reworked stories to fit into his easily readable 159-page book.
Two chapters featured in the book were part of a six-article series that Davis spent over a year working on, following the opening of Ristorante Di Paolo, which closed in 2013. The thrilling chapters follow Denise DiPaolo as she maxes out her credit cards, changes locations, partakes in wine tastings and much more to get her restaurant opened.
Davis explained he had no clue if the restaurant would end up opening when he started the project, but followed up every couple of weeks until it became a reality.
“I love writing stories and seeing how I could get to know a person, and seeing how the story could have an appeal to more than someone in the town,” Davis said.
Coming from weekly papers in Rochester, New York, Davis thinks that he worked in the “golden age” for daily print papers during his time at the Recorder. He explained there was money and space to chase longer stories and write magazine-style pieces during his career. “I don’t think there is time or money to do that kind of expansive reporting now,” he said. “The fact that there are still dailies now is important.”
Davis thinks it is important to have storytelling about the people in the community to be able to understand others. He said the county has creative energy and creative people with great ideas who are getting things done.
“I think Franklin County is one of the best places in the world,” Davis said. “It is really vibrant under the surface; my hope is that it comes across in all three of my books and it captures some of the special character of the area.”