Like many of our Americana “roots” music genres, the blues has morphed many times and in many ways from its acoustic origins in the deltas and cotton fields of the steamy south to the electric rock and roll dance halls, clubs and bars in the rest of the country. It has spawned jazz, soul, R&B, rock and country music. Blues itself has become standardized, fitting nicely into 8 bars or 12 bars in minor keys with a set pattern to the lyrics and chord structure, and most always a sense of melancholy to the message.
Guy Davis is a renowned musician/composer/writer/actor who brings the blues back home again. In his hands, the blues is a joyful, free-wheeling expression of a people’s triumph over sorrow and oppression. This is blues with its acoustic roots showing, and Davis will share it with Tehachapi in a performance. in the BeeKay Theatre. The concert is part of the regular acoustic music series sponsored by Fiddlers Crossing.
Davis is also a storyteller. Although raised in a middle-class suburb of New York City, he grew up listening to his parents tell tales about the lives of his grandparents and great-grandparents in the rural south. Davis taught himself how to play the guitar by listening to and watching other musicians, and he often weaves his music around his stories.
As an actor as well as musician and composer, Davis has appeared on Broadway, in film and on TV, and won acclaim for his many CDs. Among his numerous credits, he has been a guest on Late Night with Conan O’Brien, A Prairie Home Companion, and Whoopi Goldberg’s series on Nickelodeon, and opened for Ian Anderson of Jethro Tull. He was Dr. Josh Hall on TV’s “One Life to Live,” and his music was featured in the 1995 PBS series, “The American Promise.” Davis has also joined his parents, actors/writers Ossie Davis and Ruby Dee, (both deceased) in a theater piece the three wrote called, “Two Hahs Hahs and a Homeboy.” The show combined their own compositions with African American Folklore and history.
In 1994, Davis performed a one-man show off-Broadway called “In Bed with the Blues: The Adventures of Fishy Waters.” A few years ago, a CD version of the show was produced and recorded by Peter Cutler, co-owner of Fiddlers Crossing and engineer for the FolkScene radio program.
With all his talents and experience, Guy Davis is still, at heart, a bluesman, with influences ranging from Mississippi John Hurt and Elizabeth Cotton to Taj Mahal, Fats Waller and even Harry Belafonte.
Among his many honors, he has won the Blues Foundation’s “Keeping the Blues Alive Award.” A critic for the San Francisco Chronicle has said of him: “Davis’ tough, timeless vocals blow through your brain like a Mississippi dust devil.” This is the blues as “goodtime music”, originally made for dancing, and Davis holds true to its roots.