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Author Topic: Rev Gary Davis - Bring Your Money Honey  (Read 2617 times)

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Offline Bunker Hill

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Rev Gary Davis - Bring Your Money Honey
« on: April 17, 2006, 03:39:02 AM »
I had a visit from somebody who, amongst other items, wanted to hear the LP Bring Your Money, Honey (Fontana SFJL914, 1968) recorded by Stefan Grossman. My visitor claims that it has never since been reissued and, I must admit, have myself failed to track down either a re-release or the material being incorporated with another Grossman recording. Can anybody answer this? To aid recognition I've scanned the track listing and sleevenote. Thanks.
recorded live at Harvard University

Side1 Twelve Gates To The City/Samson And Delilah (If I Had My Way)/Keep Your Lamp Trimmed And Burning/The Boy Was Kissing The Girl (And Playing The Guitar At The Same Time)/Birmingham Special
Side2 Time Ain't So Long/Silvie/Lost John/Lo, I'll Be With You Always

Reverend Gary Davis has always amazed me, whether it was hearing him preach in Harlem, teaching guitar at his Bronx home, or telling a country story to serious young college students. He is the master of the moment. Many regard him as a mystical, legendary figure. I suppose he does permeate such an image, but he is indeed far from that. He is a husband, a preacher and a human being quite aware of surviving. Not until recently have pleasant times found its way to the Davis's doorsteps. He is now over seventy years old and finally owns his own house and car. Both are very important symbols to him.

But even with getting older and more comfortable Rev. Davis is still eager to teach new pupils. He still asks people whether they want to learn guitar, and that he would love to teach them as long as they 'bring their money, honey'.

There could be no better teacher than Rev. Davis. He has an incredible wealth of knowledge on folk-tales, folk instruments, and life in the South during a period when American music was at its height. He can play country hoe-down tunes on his harmonica as well as frailing or double thumbing "Cripple Creek" or "Candyman" on his five-string banjo. His guitar style is quite unique and is one of the major styles to have developed and to have been imitated by singers from the South as well as North. His blues style has been copied by Blind Boy Fuller (Reverend Davis actually taught Fuller and for several years they played the streets of Durham, North Carolina with a blind harmonica player-called Sonny Terry). Imitations of this style can still be heard from Brownre McGee. His religious songs employ perhaps the most unique combination of singing and guitar playing ever recorded. The guitar plays counter-point melodies over a vocal. This style is quite rhythmic in effect but also incorporates single string work as well as complex chording. Rev. Davis was greatly influenced by Blind Blake (a very popular Georgia guitar player), but the guitar technique that Rev. Davis has developed is much more complex and interesting than Blake. On close listening you will discover that they are two totally different worlds. Yet, Rev. Davis has the uncanny ability to imitate almost every major blues style. This ranges from Blind Blake, John Lee Hooker, Lightnin' Hopkins to Mississippi John Hurt.

As a student of Rev. Davis, I was constantly being reminded of his greatness. At times I thought I had heard all the "things" he could do with a guitar and then on the next meeting Rev. Davis would surprise me by playing a bottleneck piece in open E6 tuning! He has always known how to pleasantly surprise me. His repertoire seems endless.

His respect and love for music comes over in his teaching. The first important lesson is to wake up to your guitar and immediately start to play music. Once doing this you find that every moment is occupied with sounds and in a way you get enveloped by music.

Reverend Davis is an expert harmonica player in the true country manner. I can think of no other harmonica player that can produce his sound. His favourite is still his dear friend, Sonny Terry. The strangest experience is to hear Rev. Davis play square dance tunes on the banjo or minstrel show tunes. Sometimes he will gently play an Al Jolson song or perhaps a Woody Guthrie piece. All music is sacred to him and the dangers of falling into a "bag" as many other musicians have done has always escaped Rev. Davis.

Unfortunately there are few available records that show Rev. Davis at his best. The latter ones have been hurriedly recorded by A&R men eager to make money. The best way, I think, to record any great musician is over a long period of time.

Recording a bluesman or gospel singer in a studio is quite different than in a live performance. Rev. Davis besides being a great musician is also an incredible show-man. He can mould any type of audience and build up an electric atmosphere.

I am quite pleased by this album. It shows Reverend Davis at his best. His classics such as: Samson and Delilah and Twelve Gates to the City are in a programme with some of his more obscure numbers. And perhaps the greatest achievement of this record is the talk between numbers. Terry Brown [product manager Fontana BH] has produced an excellent record showing the great performing qualities of Rev. Davis.

This album shows Rev. Davis as a human being as well as one of the greatest guitar players to have emerged from the American musical scene.

Rev. Davis now lives in Jamaica, Long Island and if perchance you should ever be in that part of the world and in need of some good guitar tutoring I am sure he would welcome your company. Just remember to "bring your money, honey". STEFAN GROSSMAN, London, England.

Offline Stefan Wirz

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  • Tach-chen!
    • 'American Music'
Re: Rev Gary Davis - Bring Your Money Honey
« Reply #1 on: April 17, 2006, 04:40:24 AM »
as far as I know there's no CD reissue of that album ( doesn't list one either) ...
... and it has a nice front cover:

[attachment deleted by admin]

Offline Bunker Hill

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Re: Rev Gary Davis - Bring Your Money Honey
« Reply #2 on: April 17, 2006, 06:42:47 AM »
Thanks for the information Stefan.

It is a David Gahr photo taken at Newport Folk Festival. I think it's his wife with him. "Mother" Annie Davis was how he would refer to her when he was in Britain in 1965


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