Davis’ much-praised 1995 debut, Stomp Down the Rider on Red House Records, marked the arrival of a major talent, earning acclaim for his deft acoustic playing, his well-traveled voice and his literate, yet highly accessible songwriting. He’s barely rested since then, taking his music to television (the Conan O’Brien and David Letterman shows) and radio (A Prairie Home Companion, Mountain Stage, World Cafe, E-Town), as well as performing at theaters and festivals. And he’s played the four corners of the world, with a recent tour taking him from the Equator to the Arctic Circle. He played the Ukraine in summer of 2014, just a week or so before the statues of Lenin were torn down. He even played for the visiting Queen of Denmark when he performed at a children’s home in Greenland.
The son of famed actors/directors/civil rights activists Ossie Davis and Ruby Dee is not only a first-rate blues singer and guitar-player, he’s also known for being a prolific actor, a great songwriter, and a man of the theatre. In all of these artistic activities, Guy remains deeply connected with the cultural history of his African-American heritage. The foundation of this strong connection was laid early in his life. Born and raised in New York, Guy even as a kid was privileged to meet many heroes of Black America: Sidney Poitier, Harry Belafonte, Amiri Baraka, the list goes on. The Davis family ran an open house, so social situations of a remarkable nature were there to be experienced for everyone involved. This happened on a regular basis and the message was clear: being an artist and a concerned member of society was equally important.
Ossie Davis and Ruby Lee did not separate their art from real life. With this attitude, they managed to supply an inspiring model for developing a strong artistic identity to their multi-talented son. Many friends of the Davis family made a profound mark in history: Martin Luther King Jr, Malcolm X, Jesse Jackson. Ossie Davis himself served as eulogist at Malcolm’s funeral and later also became known for these remarkable words: „A mind is a terrible thing to waste“ - to be heard in a classic advert for the American Negro College Fund. It’s a message that could well serve as a caption for Guy Davis’ musical career as a bluesman, as he goes to work not only on stages and in recording studios. He’s also teaching at music camps and in schools.
In the years to come, Guy Davis kept searching for the best way to combine his diverse artistic talents. He made his recording debut for Folkways as early as 1978, but it took him more than fifteen years – with many successful activities on theatre stages in the meantime – to get widespread recognition for his music. Excellent albums like „You Don’t Know My Mind“ and „Butt Naked Free“ were finally responsible for his breakthrough as a bluesman - with several Handy award nominations serving as ample proof of his success. Countless national and international concert appearances also contributed to his status as one of the best contemporary acoustic blues artists. Guy continues to hold that position to this day.
So it’s no wonder that Davis is reluctant to define himself simply as a bluesman. “To me, a bluesman is somebody who has to carry a knife or a gun and enter dangerous situations and sometimes fuel it with alcohol—That’s not who I am. I call myself a blues musician, and to me the blues is a broad title. I include some ragtime, I make a nod to New Orleans, and a nod to the fife and drum players. And I always include things that make you want to dance.”
All that and more can be heard on Kokomo Kidd, Guy’s twelfth studio album and his follow-up to the stripped-down, critically acclaimed 2013 release “Juba dance”, produced in Italy by Fabrizio Poggi. As always he combines modern with traditional blues, the somber and the celebratory. And for him it represents a jump into new territory. “It’s the first time I’ve produced myself,” he points out. “I stepped up to the plate, put the cash on the barrelhead and said ‘Let’s make this happen.’ What I‘m showing here is a side of me that’s deep inside. It’s needing air and light, and here it comes!”
About Eric Long:
Multi instrumentalist Eric Long comes from the rare breed of singers whose voices you simply do not forget. His delivery is filled with the same characteristic conviction as artists like Joe Cocker and The Who’s Roger Daltrey, bringing refreshingly classic male soul and blues lines to a progressive Americana sound. Armed with two guitars, one of which is used for rootsy slide numbers, banjo, harmonica and the occasional dobro, Eric fills out his sound with a constant foot tapping on an old piece of redwood that he pulled off an old farm in Northern California.
A Pennsylvania transplant currently living in Oakland California, Eric is a seasoned songwriter with a remarkable knack for simplicity. He’s played all throughout the Bay Area with multiple groups including the roots blues and rock n’ roll trio Hot Diggity Damn which has played many of San Francisco’s top venues.
With influences ranging from Mississippi John Hurt and John Fahey to progressive musicians like Jack White, Eric’s music is both fundamentally folk music, and also timelessly steeped in some of America’s earliest musical roots. Eric is now performing as a solo musician with an instantly lovable one-man band feel.