Wednesday, January 29, 2014

The Blind Baptist Live


The Reverend Gary Davis
At Newport
1968: Vanguard
prooduced by Sam Charters?

I will not tell a lie.  The Grateful Dead sent me here.  The Reverend Blind Gary Davis was an old school blues/gospel singer and song writer who made most of his music between 1920 and 1950.  However, a folk and blues revival in the '60s rediscovered Rev. Davis, and plenty of new up and coming acts became influenced by his blues and songs.  

Peter, Paul and Mary, Bob Dylan, the Grateful Dead, and Hot Tuna all famously covered his work, which included the songs Candyman, Samson and Delilah (If I had my Way), Hesitation Blues, and Death Don't Have No Mercy.  So, of course, having heard not just one of my favorite bands (the Grateful Dead), but also Hot Tuna (best blues band ever?), I decided I had to find out who this was and what he was all about.  Funny how music can lead you on a journey, isn't it?  On top of influencing this "new" generation of musicians who would become the cornerstone of modern classic rock, Rev Davis had previously influenced a whole generation of bluesmen, including David Bromberg, Ernie Hawkins, Larry Johnson, and Tom Winslow.  

This particular album is a live recording.  It is actually so crisp and clean that it sounds like a studio record.  Apparently recorded in Newport around 1968, the record jacket doesn't help at all, and there is no internet page anywhere with specifics.  I'm guessing Samuel Charters may be the producer of the record, as he worked for Vanguard at the time, and worked on the Newport recordings for the Everyman series.  But, that is just a guess.  

There is a pretty lengthy note on the back of the jacket detailing the last time the writer drove Rev Davis back to his home in Long Island.  It is a pretty cool anecdote, but the author's by- line is missing.  The mystery writer's jacket note reads like a biography, nothing truly profound or quote worthy, but still interesting to read.  According to the writer, Rev Gary Davis ought to be heralded as one of the great blues men, if not the most influential.  Of course, I agree.   

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