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Author Topic: Reverend Gary Davis  (Read 10954 times)

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Offline Rivers

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Re: Reverend Gary Davis
« Reply #30 on: June 08, 2007, 08:23:08 PM »

The text is weird. First we have to accept that Van Ronk had a thought on his mind that Lemon was a good guitarist and that  "Gary disagreed (laugher)". What does it mean? Maybe Van Ronk said to RGD that he thinks Lemon is a good guitarist, and RGD burst into laughing(?). After that, we are looking to read anything about Lemon's guitar skills, all we get is a comment about Lemon's vocals! That his vocals were not loud enough to RGD taste! As I consider RGD own vocals, I doubt theres a big surprise in such RGD's comment. So Lemon guitar was behind a not too loud vocals, Gary Davis had to never play instrumentals so I'd believe that for him calculating guitar skills is also by considering calculation of loudness of singing.


I've been meaning to reply to this. Van Ronk's low-key punch line is "Gary disagreed".

If I'd been there I also would have laughed out loud, knowing the little I know. Gary was a natural force, a brilliant artist in his own right, just like Lemon before him. Enter the jester Dave Van Ronk, who had a serious knack of bringing out the humor in a situation. Great artist X comments on great artist Y, sort of thing. That's why it's a totally brilliant, funny and revealing quote.
« Last Edit: June 08, 2007, 08:24:28 PM by Rivers »

Offline Frosty Morn

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Re: Reverend Gary Davis
« Reply #31 on: June 15, 2007, 09:41:42 AM »

I don't see it mentioned in this thread, so I will suggest that emusic.com is a great resource for building your RGD library.

Like the original poster to this thread, I did not appreciate or understand the music of Gary Davis when I first heard it.  In recent years I've come to appreciate how wonderful those recording are and have taken on the task to learn some of those licks.  They *do* repeat from tune to tune, to it's quite an economical style.   ;)    Hardly a day goes by that I don't sit down with a guitar, and now it's more than likely that I'll spend some of the time playing some Gary Davis.  So, I guess his music is part of my daily life!


Offline NevadaPic

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The Reverend
« Reply #32 on: January 08, 2008, 06:46:09 PM »
"I thought Rev. Gary Davis was absolutely the best American overall guitarist. He's a total genius. If he had sight he would have been more than a genius."  Danny Kalb

I don't know Mr. Kalb and I don't mean to chastise him.  But I think that it was because of the Reverend's blindness that he was such an excellent guitar player.  He did not have the distraction of sight thus his hearing was more acute, his tactile sense through his fingers was more acute and his knowledge of the fingerboard was more intuitive.  He (the Reverend) could focus more on the playing rather than being distracted by what might be happening about him.  I am constantly amazed with what I hear from his playing.  Am I alone if thinking this or am I just full of it?

On the other hand, I would have been happy to be actually behind the Reverend when he pulled out his 'piece of pistol' whenever he felt it necessary. 

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Offline Rivers

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Re: The Reverend
« Reply #33 on: January 08, 2008, 07:02:57 PM »
I think this applies to many unsighted players. Willie McTell, Willie Johnson, Connie Williams, Joe Taggert, Blind Blake, Snooks Eaglin are just a few off the top of my head. These players have something special going for them musically. It's a good exercise to play with your eyes closed sometimes. I can't keep it up for long.

And welcome to weenie campbell NP!
« Last Edit: January 08, 2008, 07:04:33 PM by Rivers »

Offline NevadaPic

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Re: The Reverend
« Reply #34 on: January 08, 2008, 07:41:14 PM »
Rivers,

Thanks Friend I can't agree more.  I do play with eyes closed or in the dark every now and again and sometimes I surprise myself.  I did not mean to discount the many other players who lack the sense of sight.  I was asked not long ago the question "If you had to lose one of your senses which would it be?"  I think you know how I responded.  I think that folks that play the blues feel so much that it has to come out one way or the other.  That it comes out the way it does just strikes a chord in us all. 

I just recently heard the Reverend singing the lyrics to "I'm Throwing Up My Hands", "Can't Be Satisfied", "Mountain Jack" from the album 'Rev. Blind Gary Davis 1935 - 1949'.  What a performance.  I am a huge fan of the Reverend's for a lot of reasons...  But I have a lot of the music of most of the other folks you mentioned waiting in the wings for further review.   Thanks for the welcome!

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Offline Rivers

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Re: The Reverend
« Reply #35 on: January 08, 2008, 08:04:25 PM »
I really recommend, if you don't know it already, the song "There Was A Time That I Was Blind" on Gospel Blues & Street Songs, disc is shared half and half with Pink Anderson. I can't think of anything more heartfelt in country blues, very revealing about Gary's feelings about his blindness. He could be acting out in that inimiccable Gary way but I don't think so. Worth picking up for that alone but the rest of the tracks on the CD are really good too.

Offline Mr.OMuck

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Re: The Reverend
« Reply #36 on: January 08, 2008, 08:23:21 PM »
I really recommend, if you don't know it already, the song "There Was A Time That I Was Blind" on Gospel Blues & Street Songs, disc is shared half and half with Pink Anderson. I can't think of anything more heartfelt in country blues, very revealing about Gary's feelings about his blindness. He could be acting out in that inimiccable Gary way but I don't think so. Worth picking up for that alone but the rest of the tracks on the CD are really good too.

IMO thats RGD's best post 78 recording, and thats saying a lot since he made so many great ones.Blow Gabriel is mind blowing! And then you get Pink Anderson doing Greasy Greens?!?@#$#@&? What more could an aspiring fingerpicker ask for?

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« Last Edit: January 08, 2008, 08:25:48 PM by Mr.OMuck »
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Offline rjtwangs

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Re: The Reverend
« Reply #37 on: January 08, 2008, 08:24:32 PM »
Nevada, I absolutely agree with you! I believe his blindness was what made him great, for all of the reasons you mentioned, plus the fact that he had that gift of music. You could also add the name Doc Watson to that list. It is very inspirational to listen to the music of these gifted musicians.

RJ

Offline Mr.OMuck

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Re: The Reverend
« Reply #38 on: January 08, 2008, 08:29:25 PM »
It seems to be a pan cultural phenomenon. Take a listen to the great Blind Turkish-Armenian Oud player
Udi Hrandt. Very moving playing, he's like the Gary Davis of Turkish music.
My loathings are simple: stupidity, oppression, crime, cruelty, soft music.
Vladimir Nabokov (1899 - 1977)

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Offline Rivers

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Re: The Reverend
« Reply #39 on: January 08, 2008, 08:30:38 PM »
Not to mention Lemon Jefferson. I think I agree with you OMuck, Street Songs is a great CD. Probably the best version of Keep Your Lamp Trimmed & Burning that I know of. And Pink is in great form on it too.

Offline Mr.OMuck

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Re: The Reverend
« Reply #40 on: January 08, 2008, 08:45:39 PM »
While we're on the subject of my late esteemed mentor; have you ever noticed a bit of a schism in the country blues world between those that worship at the alter of the ancestors of Muddy, and those who gravitate towards more spiritually themed music like RGD or Blind Willie Johnson? I get whiffs of attitude sometimes towards RGD's music, like its somehow uncool, from those who came to early blues via Chicago ca. 1950.
Know what I mean?
My loathings are simple: stupidity, oppression, crime, cruelty, soft music.
Vladimir Nabokov (1899 - 1977)

http://www.youtube.com/user/MuckOVision

Offline Rivers

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Re: The Reverend
« Reply #41 on: January 08, 2008, 09:12:23 PM »
Could that be a New York thing OMuck? I really dunno, just guessing here. I hadn't really noticed it. I don't distinguish between blues and gospel, it's all great music to me. I know what you mean but it's probably on an individual basis, in other words some individuals, probably musicians themselves, have feelings or attitudes like that.

I try (and fail miserably probably) to be a radical centerist about music. If you get too emotional about it you can miss out on a lot of good things and people start to think you're some kind of freak. Not that I care what people think but hey.

Case in point, I thought I couldn't stand Muddy, for years. It was only the re-release of the early recordings, and reading about the Chicago scene in the Forties, that hipped me to his place in the scheme of things. Everybody has their story, but folks may not  be ready to listen depending on where they're at at that particular moment.

PS I didn't get into this music by either of those two routes, just making the point the old blues fan base is not really a polar situation but a mix.

Offline dave stott

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Re: The Reverend
« Reply #42 on: January 09, 2008, 10:23:28 AM »
IMHO

There does seem to be a contingent of people that will not allow a disparaging word to be spoken about the Rev. with respect to his playing or his personal life.. Almost like there is an 11th commandment

"thou shalt not speak poorly of the Rev"..

Whereas it seems Muddy Waters fans openly discuss his faults & accept him as is.

Dave

Offline Johnm

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Re: The Reverend
« Reply #43 on: January 09, 2008, 01:04:21 PM »
Hi all,
Not to disparage Rev. Davis's gifts or those of any other of the great blind musicians who recorded Country Blues and Gospel, but I have long been dubious of the claim that loss of one sense requires compensatory adjustments by the other senses that allow for special achievement.  Quite apart from the natural gifts that people like Rev. Davis, Lemon Jefferson, Blind Willie Johnson, Willie Walker, et al were blessed with, and those gifts were considerable (!), I think the greatest factor contributing to their musical achievement was time--time to work on their music and develop the instrumental and vocal skills that would gain them recognition later.  For musically talented, sightless persons of their background and place and time in the world, musical performance probably represented their best opportunity for a self-supporting adult life.  With next to nothing available at that time in terms of social services, SSI income and the like, and families that in most instances could not or were not willing to support a blind adult family member, these musicians had a powerful incentive as youngsters growing up to become musicians.  And I don't care how talented you may be, (and for my money, no one in the Blues has ever equalled, let alone surpassed Lemon's talent and musicality) you do not develop the kind of mechanism Lemon, Rev. Davis, Willie Walker, Willie Johnson and others had on their instruments without hundreds and thousands of hours or playing and practice.  There are plenty of talented people, but these people put the time in to realize themselves musically.  It does them an injustice to attribute their achievements to "talent".  They worked like crazy to get as good as they became.
All best,
Johnm
« Last Edit: January 09, 2008, 05:04:55 PM by Johnm »

Offline eagle rockin daddy

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Re: The Reverend
« Reply #44 on: January 09, 2008, 04:17:52 PM »
John,

you mean this takes work?  I thought all you had to do was go down to the cross-roads.........


Mike

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