Skunkmello, Guy Davis, Red House Records, 2000
A couple of years ago I spent no little cyberspace “ink” on the question of who would carry on the folk tradition that the folk revival artists of my generation, the generation of ’68, “discovered” back in the day. You know artists like Bob Dylan, Joan Baez, Tom Paxton, Eric Von Schmidt and Dave Van Ronk and others digging into the American song book provided by Harry Smith, the Lomaxes and the Seegers to preserve Woody Guthrie and stuff even further back down to the hills and hollows of Appalachia (I know I am supposed to write hollas but there you have it), down to the southern delta plantation moans, down to backwater Mississippi juke joint groans after a hard Saturday night of love, fights and headaches, and out west, out west where as Thomas Wolfe stated, the states are square to gather in the cowboy and farm traditions found in the great migrations to the coast, west coast of course. I came up with a few candidates like Keb Mo’ and Carol Hemmings then just to make my point.
I am now trying to take that basic point and pose the question here of who will carry out the great American blues night tradition started back in the early part of the 20th century (as least the part we know about from recordings and radio) and which produced great music from Charley Patton, Son House, Skip James, Mississippi John Hurt and the like on through to Muddy Waters, Howlin’ Wolf , Ike Turner, and Taj Majal. That last name mentioned not by accident as the artist under review, Guy Davis, consciously or not, and I think consciously, owns at least a debt of gratitude to Taj for breaking some ground for him in the blues milieu.
Needless to say Brother Davis (Guy, not the late great Reverend Gary, okay) plays a mean guitar as on Shaky Pudding and Natural Born, can use his vocal abilities to belt out such songs as Chocolate Man and Shooing Star and get down to that gospel church, Jehovah we are coming root of the blues on It Takes Love To Make A Home with the best of them. Eric Clapton, Mick and Keith and the rest of the British invasion guys mad to the high heavens for American blues move over a little. Guy Davis is in the house. And make that the Red House always on the lookout for guys like Guy Davis.