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Blues Man Guy Davis Earns Praise for Storytelling Skills

  • Doug Levine

Left to Right - Nerek Roth Patterson (Electric Guitar), Guy Davis and Mark Murphy (Bass) (Photo: Thom Wolke © 2006)

Left to Right - Nerek Roth Patterson (Electric Guitar), Guy Davis and Mark Murphy (Bass) (Photo: Thom Wolke © 2006)

Blues maverick Guy Davis is a singer, songwriter, guitarist, harmonica player, actor, educator, and the creator of his own one-man blues show.

Davis conceived Fishy Waters, a singing hobo traveling in the American South during the Great Depression, playing his country blues and telling tales to all who will listen. He embodies the title character in his tour de force performance of The Adventures of Fishy Waters: In Bed with the Blues.



Davis inherited his gift for performing from his parents: actors Ruby Dee and the late Ossie Davis. He says there was never any pressure to follow in their footsteps, and even though he’s done plenty of acting, music has always been his first love.

“Mom and Dad just made it really clear to me that I had to go to school and get a good education," Davis explains. "They didn’t care whether I went into show business or not, because words and acting and reading and directing was their business. I wanted to get away from that, I wanted to have my own voice, so I chose to sort of lean it over into music.”

Davis wrote The Adventures of Fishy Waters while working as an understudy in the Broadway play “Mule Bone.” Since 1994, he has presented his show to audiences around the world, scheduling it between club dates and tours throughout the year. He says recording it was just as intense as performing live.

“I sat in a studio with some guitars, told it straight through and then told it again with some editing," Davis says. "And then the recording engineer put in some sound effects. So it’s a wonderful story telling CD along with the blues music.”

Call it Delta blues or Southern folk - Guy Davis simply refers to his music as good old-fashioned storytelling. He believes that in this day and age storytellers are becoming a rare breed.

“Here in America our specialty is the media," Davis notes, "so we grow up being able to take for granted all the entertainment that’s available, [because of] all the ‘zillion’ channels you can get on television. So you don’t feel the need necessarily to gather in people’s living rooms or kitchens or schools or people’s homes and just play songs and tell stories and play games.”

Guy recently visited VOA where he performed several selections from The Adventures of Fishy Waters: In Bed with the Blues, including the blues standard “Candy Man.”
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