Guy Davis (#915)

A New York musician, composer, and actor revives acoustic blues traditions.

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New York bluesman, composer, and actor Guy Davis, whose voice is “like Howlin’ Wolf dipped in honey,” according to Scotsman magazine, brings his revival of traditional acoustic blues to the Jubilee stage. The program includes a performance taped at the 2003 W.C. Handy Blues Festival and an interview with Davis.

A native of New York City, Davis is inspired by the stories of his Southern ancestors. His work features material by great blues masters and traditional African-American stories as well as his own original songs, stories, and performance pieces. Musical influences range from Blind Willie McTell, Skip James, and Mississippi John Hurt to Taj Mahal, Fats Waller, and Harry Belafonte.

“Davis reminds you that the blues started as dance music,” says Playboy. “This is blues made for humming along, stomping your foot, feeling righteous in the face of oppression.”

The Boston Globe and Pulse magazine both listed Davis’ 1995 release, Call Down the Thunder, as a top ten album of the year, and Acoustic Guitar called it one of the 30 essential CDs from a new generation of performers. You Don’t Know My Mind (1998) was named blues album of the year by the Association for Independent Music. In 2004, chocolate to the bone was nominated for W.C. Handy Best Acoustic Album and Best Acoustic Artist awards.

Davis, whose parents are the actors Ossie Davis and Ruby Dee, is also an accomplished actor and writer. He made his Broadway debut in 1991 in Mulebone, based on writings by Zora Neale Hurston and Langston Hughes, and received the 1993 W.C. Handy Keeping the Blues Alive Award from the Blues Foundation for his off-Broadway portrayal of blues legend Robert Johnson.