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Thread: Blues, Stomps, & Rags #23

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    Registered User Ranald's Avatar
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    Mar 2017
    Ottawa, Canada

    Default Blues, Stomps, & Rags #23

    Guy Davis (b. 1952) is a fine, contemporary blues singer and musician, playing guitar, banjo, harmonica, and mandolin. The son of actors Rubie Dee and Ossie Davis, Guy was raised in the New York City area. He is a self-taught guitar player, but learned to play 5-string banjo from John Seeger at a music camp where he was first exposed to blues. According to his Wikipedia biography, "his blues music is inspired by the Southern speech of his grandmother." Davis's songwriting was influenced by the Southern culture and stories of his parents and grandparents.

    For many years, Guy Davis was both an actor and musician, later becoming a playwright. He played Robert Johnson in the play Robert Johnson: Trick The Devil. Davis has been recording since 1978 and has produced a number of excellent blues albums and CD's, playing his own compositions, other people's, and his interpretations of traditional songs, while accompanied by other excellent musicians including the mandolin players, Ken Whiteley (Blues, Stomps, and Rags #18), Levon Helm, and Tommy "T-Bone" Wolk. In recent years, Davis took up mandolin himself and played it on some of his recordings. At this stage, he works primarily as a musician rather than actor, providing an excellent example of a contemporary bluesman, thoroughly grounded in old, mainly-acoustic, music, but who has clearly developed his own voice and approach.

    Here's a short video, showing Guy Davis noodling out some mandolin blues for "Slim Pickens" (not the Slim who played in cowboy movies and rode the atomic bomb in Dr. Strangelove). It's a rough recording, but you'll get the idea. If the links don't work, search YouTube for "Slim Pickens with Guy Davis".

    Davis also plays mandolin in this studio recording -- he often plays more than one instrument on a recorded tune. If the links don't work, search YouTube for "I'm Gone, Guy Davis".

    Despite the fantasies of blues purists, just as many of us at Mandolin Cafe play in different genres, many blues players, past and present, also played other types of music. For interest's sake, I'm including Davis playing what many of us might label an "old-time" tune. Anyone who likes the Carolina Chocolate Drops should like this one. If the links don't work, search YouTube for "Run Molly Run, Guy Davis".

    "It's just music; you can't break it."

    Buffy Ste-Marie on experimenting with your sound.
    "On Reserve", CBC Radio.

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