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Guy Davis and The Living Blues

Guy Davis is an actor, writer, modern blues player with a strong sense of history, a great harmonica and acoustic guitar player and a tremendous songwriter.

Guy Davis
Davis’ influences clearly are his parents, Ossie Davis and Ruby Dee. Beyond that, the bio at his site cites Pete Seeger, Big Bill Broonzy, Lightin’ Hopkins, Sonny Terry and Brownie McGhee, Blind Willie McTell and Leadbelly. Davis has a special affinity for Terry.

Considering his lineage, it is not surprising that Davis also is a writer and actor. He had a lead role in “Beat Street” opposite Rae Dawn Chong in 1984 and a two-year stint on the soap opera “One Life to Live.” Davis was on Broadway in “Mulebone,” a musical written by Zora Neale Hurston and Langston Hughes. The production featured the music of Taj Mahal. Among other acting ventures, Davis wrote “In Bed with the Blues: The Adventures of Fishy Waters,” which ran off Broadway and, according to Wikipedia, was praised by critics. The Wikipedia profile highlights several writing projects as well.

Guy Davis is a very talented guy who has done a lot of great things, including creating great music, acting and play writing. He also has furthered the fight for social justice that he no doubt was introduced to by his parents. TDMB had the pleasure of interviewing Davis a couple of years ago and found him to be an pleasure with whom to chat. Click here or on the image for more on Davis’ latest album, “Sonny & Brownie’s Last Train.” Here is the info at iTunes.
Music, of course, is Davis’ core vocation. He worked with Levon Helm, Van Morrison guitarist John Plantania and others on the album “Butt Naked Free.” The band performed a song from the album, “Waitin’ for the Cards to Fall,” on the Conan O’Brien show. Davis was invited by Ian Anderson to open for Jethro Tull during the band’s 2003 tour.

Below is “Like Sonny Did,” performed with Fabrizio Poggi, an Italian harmonica player which whom he has toured and produced an album.Above is “That’s No Way to Get Along” by the blues player Robert Wilkins. The song was changed significantly by The Rolling Stones and became “Prodigal Son” on the “Beggar’s Banquet” album. It’s a great song, but the changes are deeper than the lyrics. Davis alluded to it during a performance last weekend at The Third Annual Folk Festival at Morgan Park in Glen Cove, which is on Long Island. It raises some interesting issues and I am going to put in my two cents soon.



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Here’s What’s Here

The Daily Music Break explores every genre of music, from hip hop to opera. It's simple: Boundaries are dumb. It's all good. Here is more about the site and here is our index:

--A Tribe Called Quest to The Dick Hyman Trio (In other words, A to H)

--Indigo Girls to Queen Ida (I to Q)

--Radiohead to ZZ Top (R to Z)

Reading Music

The stories of the great bands and musicians are fascinating. Musicians as a group are brilliant, but often troubled. The combination of creativity and drama makes for great reading.

Here are some books to check out.

Duke Ellington brought class, sophistication and style to jazz which, until that point, was proudly unpolished and raucous. His story is profound. The author, Terry Teachout, also wrote "Pops," the acclaimed bio of Louis Armstrong. Click here or on the image.


What else is there to say? Here is the story behind every song written by The Beatles. Click here or on the image.


The Grateful Dead don't get enough credit for the profound nature of its lyrics. Many of the band's songs are driven by a deep and literate Americana ("I'm Uncle Sam/That's who I am/Been hidin' out/In a rock and roll band" and "Majordomo Billy Bojangles/Sit down and have a drink with me/What's this about Alabama/Keeps comin' back to me?").

David Dodd's exhaustive study tells the story, song by song. Click here or on the image.