October 11th, 2007
I can’t recall how it was that I discovered Guy Davis but I’m fairly certain that it happened shortly after having an argument with someone about the blues. Stevie Ray Vaughn has never been a favorite of mine and I get irritated when people say they enjoy blues music when they really mean they like SRV, Susan Tedeschi, et al. Of such a mind was my interlocutor that day. The blues are certainly many things to many people but, if your love of blues music extends only to white people, then your tastes should surely be called into question. I don’t mean to get into a debate here about the blues, whether white folks can play it, or anything along these lines. And I hesitate to express a preference for either country or electric blues since I enjoy both. But I do feel that acoustic blues gets the short end of the stick these days when oodles of middle class white folk equate blues to wailing Strats and think of Eric Clapton as the genre’s leading practitioner. There are times when drums and electric guitars just won’t do. And during those times I’ll listen to Muddy Waters sitting out on his front porch playing before he moved to Chicago or some Blind Willie Johnson. That music plays differently in my head than the post-war blues. It feels different too. This is probably because it is less like rock music than the stuff that came out of Chicago in the mid-20th century.
My introduction to Davis came when I picked up his album You Don’t Know My Mind and immediately fell in love with its foot-stomping, hand clapping rhythms and his often rough baritone. Plus I really appreciated the fact that Davis wrote his own material instead of simply covering old classics. He certainly knew where his roots lay but wanted to work within the tradition instead of wallowing in days gone by. At the time, I had no idea he was the son of Ossie Davis and Ruby Dee. Nor that his pre-recording career was devoted to acting and included TV/film roles and even a one-man off-Broadway show that he wrote himself. For a more complete picture of Davis’ life and career, read the bio at his home page.
I had the distince pleasure of seeing Guy Davis only once back in the summer of 2003 when he opened for Jethro Tull up in the Dells. I am hoping he’ll make it this way again soon.
Today’s show was recorded last summer across The Pond in Aberdeen, Scotland at a place called the Lemon Tree. It was 22 June and this is the first set. This is a very nice audience recording. Davis loves to banter between songs and I’ve left it all in.
Maggie Campbell Blues
The Chocolate Man
Po’Boy, Great Long Way From Home
61 Highway, Loneliest Road I Know
What You Doin’
See That My Grave Is Kept Clean
Honeydew Melon Rag
YouTube comes through again. This time it’s “Things About Coming My Way” which Davis performed in the second set at the Lemon Tree. The video below is from Club Passim in Cambridge, Mass. on 18 February 2006.