Rev Gary Davis: From Blues To Gospel


Summary

Format: CD

Genre:  Blues/ragtime

Tracks:  13

Playing time:  50 minutes

Availability (out of 3):  3

Related website(s):  http://reverenddavis.org/

My rating: 10/10

I like…  The impassioned singing, the energy and variations of the guitar playing

I’m less keen on…  Nothing – this is authentic blues – allowance needs to be made for the lack of polish! 

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I first encountered Rev Gary Davis’ name in guitar tuition books in the early 1980s. I bought a vinyl album containing some of his 1960s recordings (some of which feature on this CD) and, although I wasn’t keen on some of them, others blew me away. I have a number of CDs of his recordings from this period, but I think that this one makes an excellent starting point for his music, especially given the album’s price.

Who?

Although blind from early childhood, by the age of eight or nine, Rev Davis had learned to play guitar, banjo and harmonica. He played and sang on sidewalks to make a living, and mentored Blind Boy Fuller, even claiming that Fuller owed him everything he knew, which seems a little exaggerated. He also made some recordings in the 1930s, but remained aggrieved for the rest of his days about the lack of remuneration he received. This affected his attitude to making recordings in later life. He died in 1972.

As with a number of other black bluesmen who had recorded in the 1920s and 1930s he was rediscovered in the American folk revival of the 1960s.

Rev Davis and Gibson SJ200 guitar

Continue reading “Rev Gary Davis: From Blues To Gospel”

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Dale Miller: Fingerpicking Rags And Other Delights

 

Summary

Format: CD

Genre:  Folk/Folk-blues/Jazz/Pop

Tracks: 21

Playing time:  38 minutes

Availability (out of 3): **

Related website(s): http://www.dalemiller.com

My rating:  10/10

I like…  The variety of genres, the upbeat feel, the rich tone

I’m less keen on…   Some of the tracks are very short, but then the album is really aimed at guitar players wanting to learn new tunes and arrangements

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Not only did the “folk revival” in America in the 1960s see the rediscovery of some great performers from, several decades earlier, it also saw a new generation of would-be guitar players. Many set themselves to learning the styles of the likes of Mississippi John Hurt, Reverend Gary Davis and Son House.  Some tracked down the music of other players, long dead, from the 1920s and 1930s. Blues and ragtime guitar challenged their dedication and co-ordination.

 

A number of players married the fingerpicking styles of some of the greats to compositions of their own, or to a range of tunes from folk or pop traditions. This album is a case in point. Continue reading “Dale Miller: Fingerpicking Rags And Other Delights”

Big Bill Broonzy: The Bill Broonzy Story

 Summarybll-broonzy-story-cover

Format:  CD

Genre: Blues (Acoustic)

Tracks: (for 3-CD set) 67 (including “chat”)

Playing time: (for 3-CD set) 202 minutes

Availability (out of 3): 3-CD set: * / 2-CD set: ***

Related website(s): http://www.broonzy.com

My rating: 10/10

I like…   The strong voice, the driving but melodic guitar, the strong blues lyrics, the “chat” between songs, the sound quality

I’m less keen on…   At times I skip some of the “chat” tracks – but only at times! 

n.b. this review is of the earlier 3-CD set that I own, but much of it will apply to the current 2-CD edition

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I first came across Big Bill Broonzy’s name Continue reading “Big Bill Broonzy: The Bill Broonzy Story”