Whether Guy Davis is appearing on Late Night TV programs or nationally syndicated radio shows, in front of 25,000 people at Madison Square Garden, or an intimate gathering of students at a Music Camp, Guy feels the instinctive desire to give each listener his ‘all’. His ‘all’ is the Blues.
Guy can tell you stories of his great-grandparents and his grandparents, their days as track linemen, and of their interactions with the KKK. He can also tell you that as a child raised in middle-class New York suburbs, the only cotton he’s personally picked is his ‘BVDs’ up off the floor. He’s a musician, composer, actor, director, and writer. But most importantly, Guy Davis is a bluesman. The blues permeates every corner of Davis’ creativity.
Throughout his career, he has dedicated himself to reviving the traditions of acoustic blues and bringing them to as many ears as possible through the material of the great blues masters, African American stories, and his own original songs, stories and performance pieces. In 1993 he performed Off-Broadway as legendary blues player Robert Johnson in Robert Johnson: Trick the Devil. He received rave reviews and became the 1993 winner of the Blues Foundation’s “Keeping the Blues Alive Award”. Looking for more ways to combine his love of blues, music, and acting, Davis created material for himself. He wrote In Bed with the Blues: The Adventures of Fishy Waters -- an engaging and moving one-man show. The Off-Broadway debut in 1994 received critical praise from the New York Times and theVillage Voice. Of Davis’ live performance, one reviewer observed that his style and writing “sound so deeply drenched in lost black traditions that you feel that they must predate him. But no, they don’t. He created them.”
These days, Davis concentrates much of his efforts on writing and performing his Blues music. He has released nine albums for Red House Records, all of which have garnered rave reviews and praise, as well as earning awards and other special nods. Perhaps Charles M. Young summed up Davis’ own take on the blues best when he wrote his review in Playboy, “Davis reminds you that the blues started as dance music. This is blues made for humming along, stomping your foot, feeling righteous in the face of oppression and expressing gratitude to your baby for greasing your skillet.”
Titles include: Going Back To Silversprings, Honeybabe, Things About Coming My Way, Come On Sally Hitch A Ride, Tell Me Where The Road Is, As Long As You Get It Done, Honeydew Melon Rag, Saturday Blues, Hooking Bull at the Landing, Georgia Flood, Joppatown, Bring Back Storyville, Watch Over Me and You Love Somebody
Running Time: 90 minutes
Review: How would you like a private guitar lesson along with an intimate concert performance from one of America's premier blues players? Look no further than "Teller of Tales." Guy Davis, who is the son of the late acclaimed actor Ossie Davis and actress Ruby Dee, and has appeared on stage (as the lead in Robert Johnson: Trick The Devil) and screen (Beat Street with Rae Dawn Chong, and the soap opera One Life to Live) affords both blues junkies and novices a riveting portrayal of one of our nation's most important musical art-forms. In keeping with the title of this film, Davis tells personal tales between his performances, recounting stories of his grandparents and their experiences with the KKK, his parents' life in Harlem in the 1940s and their work in the civil rights movement, among many others. However Davis is not necessarily a historian - he speaks of the blues in the present tense. In one vignette, Davis recalls his "forward looking" parents' perplexed reaction in that their son was immersing himself in what many folks considered to be musical format steeped in the past. How wrong they were! Akin to such important, contemporary blues guitarists as Jorma Kaukonen, Keb Mo, Cory Harris, and Otis Taylor (among others, of course) - who all choose not to "leave blues on the shelf" - Davis is a masterful player on both the six and twelve string and the slide. His licks are steeped in simplicity - there's no shredding, nothing remotely fancy. Any decent guitar player can cop the notes. Ah, but the feel! Davis plays with such a groove that you cannot help but tap your foot along with him from track to track. And there are plenty of gems to choose from: "Come On Sally Hitch a Ride," "Hooking Bull at the Landing," "Honeybabe" and "Georgia Flood" to name a few. Davis also shows guitar players the importance of submerging oneself in a song. Sure, Davis is an accomplished actor who can easily transform himself into the characters in the tunes - singing gruffly when the tension rises, then crooning sweetly when the lyrics necessitate sensitivity. But any guitar player who can dream of being Jimmy Page or Joe Satriani playing to a packed arena can employ the same methodology. Kudos to the producers: the camera angles clearly capture Davis' technique - there's no mystery on how he creates his artistry - just a man and his guitar. As Davis emphasizes, the blues belongs to everyone - if you have not already explored the blues, get started! If this film does not move you - sell your instrument! – Tom Semoli/Minor 7th