Harlem Street Singer – Rev. Gary Davis

I watched the documentary film Harlem Street Singer about the life of Reverend Gary Davis.

His songs have interested me for years thanks to Jorma Kaukonen faithful renditions. But I didn’t know anything about the person behind those songs.

I learned that Rev. Gary Davis rose from abject poverty in North Carolina and that he was nearly blind from birth. He taught himself how to play the guitar and to improvise songs. He got married and eventually moved to New York.  He was a hardy soul who survived on the streets of Harlem as a musician. He taught guitar in order to make a living. He provided lessons right up until his death at age 76 in 1972.  Amongst his star pupils were Dave Van Ronk, David Bromberg, Bob Weir, Roy Book Binder, and Stefan Grossman. Woody Mann who was his student for four years serves as co-producer and responsible for the music for Harlem Street Singer.

Blind Gary Davis was a purveyor of the Piedmont Blues which refers to a guitar style known as the Piedmont fingerstyle.  It is characterized by a fingerpicking approach in which a regular, alternating thumb bass string rhythmic pattern supports a syncopated melody using the treble strings generally picked with the fore-finger, occasionally others.[2]

His versatility as a musician allowed him to create the intersection of blues, folk, and gospel. His mastery of each idiom truly stood him apart.

The folk revival of the 1960s jettisoned Davis’s career. He performed at the Newport Folk Festival. Peter, Paul and Mary recorded his version of “Samson and Delilah“, also known as “If I Had My Way”.

Reverend Gary Davis who never had any children of his own, proudly claimed these guitar students as his sons. Thankfully for you and I they honor his tutelage by paying it forward.

 

Thank God for Eddie Kramer

I arose early to experience in full,  Both Sides of the Sky, the third album in a posthumous trilogy featuring the best of Jimi Hendrix’s unreleased studio recordings. The Authorized Hendrix Family Edition includes a 24-page booklet filled with rare photos and detailed liner notes.  I sip my morning coffee and delve into the writings of co-producer John McDermott to increase my perspective about the significance of these 13 recordings.

Both

I’ve always admired producer and engineer Eddie Kramer. He is more than just the Jimi Hendrix archivist. NPR Music wrote a piece about him yesterday, Eddie Kramer Completes Posthumous Jimi Hendrix Trilogy With ‘Both Sides Of The Sky’

Eddie Kramer is our conduit to the artistic magic of Jimi Hendrix.

Kramer says he still hears Hendrix’s voice in his head directing him in the studio.

“He did have a tendency to describe sounds in colors,” Kramer says. “If he said, ‘Hey, man, give me some of that green,’ I knew exactly what he meant; it was reverb. Or if he said, ‘Hey, man, more red,’ I knew it was distortion. And then if it went purple, it was really stupid distortion.”

Memphis Rent Party: The Blues, Rock & Soul in Music’s Hometown

One of my favorite music authors is Robert Gordon. He just released his latest book , Memphis Rent Party: The Blues, Rock & Soul in Music’s Hometown with Bloomsbury Publishing.

Memphis Rent Party

“Robert’s feel for his subject is very similar to the subjects’ feel for their music. Blues, being the wellspring of all American music for over a century, is always worth studying. Robert does it right.” –  Keith Richards

Give it a glance. Robert Gordon, a Memphis native citizen has been writing about Memphis music and history for thirty years.

If you plan to be in LA on April 26th, this related event may be of interest to you.
https://www.grammymuseum.org/events/detail/memphis-rent-party/

Two Trains Runnin’ – Grammy 2018 Nominated

The Grammy 2018 Nominations were announced today for the 60th Grammy Awards to take place at Madison Square Garden. They will air January 28th at 8 p.m. EST on CBS.

This category caught my eye.

Best Music Film:

One More Time With Feeling — Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds
Long Strange Trip — (The Grateful Dead)
The Defiant Ones — (Various Artists)
Soundbreaking— (Various Artists)
Two Trains Runnin’ — (Various Artists)

I have seen three of the five films (marked in bold) this year.  I have yet to process Nick Cave after trying several times to listen to him and his band on Spotify and Apple Music. Perhaps when I see the One More Time With Feeling documentary I will get the video/audio syntax I need to appreciate him better. Adds this film to my to-do list.

Being an active blues historian I was surprised to have not read about Two Trains Runnin’ until today. I am eager to see this documentary as soon as its distribution widens.

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Gregg Allman – “My Only True Friend”

The music of our heart is still heavy reflecting on Gregg Allman’s passing. I am forever thankful for the blues music he has introduced me to with The Allman Brothers Band and on his poignant solo albums.

I was recently acknowledged by Gregg’s official store with a thank you for pre-purchasing his final album Southern Blood.  

Thank you for placing an early order for Gregg Allman’s SOUTHERN BLOOD vinyl (out 9/8). We know many of you have been waiting awhile for the finished album, and you placed an order without a lot of information. As our way of showing our appreciation, we’re letting you know: 

You will receive the limited edition SOUTHERN BLOOD LP at no extra charge. None of these items will be part of the future regular edition.

Details:
    (a) Heavyweight, hardwood colored vinyl
    (b) Portrait lithograph (12” x 12”)
    (c) Two bonus live tracks (included with a download card).
    (d) Full album download card

That left me reassured as I have come to appreciate how accommodating the Allman community and Music Today have been over the years.

In anticipation of next month’s order, I am sharing this recent video of “My Only True Friend” which reveals the warm spirit found inside Gregg’s recording session.