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Event Archive - Bluesman & The original member of John Lennon's 'The Quarrymen': Guy Davis, Rod Davis

Sat. December 5th 2009 Ambrosia Event Centre (All Ages)
8pm - 11:00pm doors at 6pm
$28.50 Advance / $32 Door
Tickets at: Lyles Place, Ditch Records 635 Johnson St., Onine at
Guy Davis (Bluesman) & Rod Davis (Original member of John Lennon's Quarrymen)

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Ambrosia Event Centre, 638 Fisgard St., Victoria

Doors 6:00pm - Showtime 8:00pm

Tickets: $28.50 Advance + s/c / $32 Door

Available at: Lyle' Place 770 Yates St., Ditch Records 635 Johnson St., or online at

Guy Davis websites: &


Whether Guy Davis is appearing on ?Late Night With Conan O'Brien? or David Dye's ?World Café? radio program, in front of 15,000 people on the Main Stage at the Winnipeg Folk Festival, or an intimate gathering of students at a Music Camp, Guy feels the instinctive desire to give each listener his 'all'.

His 'all' is the Blues.

The routes, and roots, of his blues are as diverse as the music form itself. It can be soulful, moaning out a people's cry, or playful and bouncy as a hay-ride.

Guy can tell you stories of his great-grandparents and his grandparents, they're days as track linemen, and of their interactions with the KKK. He can also tell you that as a child raised in middle-class New York suburbs, the only cotton he's personally picked is his BVDs up off the floor.

He's a musician, composer, actor, director, and writer. But most importantly, Guy Davis is a bluesman. The blues permeates every corner of Davis' creativity.

Throughout his career, he has dedicated himself to reviving the traditions of acoustic blues and bringing them to as many ears as possible through the material of the great blues masters, African American stories, and his own original songs, stories and performance pieces.

His influences are as varied as the days. Musically, he enjoyed such great blues musicians as Blind Willie McTell (and his way of story telling), Skip James, Manse Lipscomb, Mississippi John Hurt, Elizabeth Cotton, and Buddy Guy, among others. It was through Taj Mahal that he found his way to the old time blues. He also loved such diverse musicians as Fats Waller and Harry Belafonte.

His writing and storytelling have been influenced by Zora Neale Hurston, Garrison Keillor, and by Laura Davis (his one hundred and four year-old grandmother).

Davis' creative roots run deep. Though raised in the New York City area, he grew up hearing accounts of life in the rural south from his parents and especially his grandparents, and they made their way into his own stories and songs. Davis taught himself the guitar (never having the patience to take formal lessons) and learned by listening to and watching other musicians. One night on a train from Boston to New York he picked up finger picking from a nine-fingered guitar player.

Throughout his life, Davis has had overlapping interests in music and acting. Early acting roles included a lead role in the film "Beat Street" opposite Rae Dawn Chong and on television as 'Dr. Josh Hall' on "One Life to Live." Eventually, Davis had the opportunity to combine music and acting on the stage. He made his Broadway musical debut in 1991 in the Zora Neale Hurston/Langston Hughes collaboration "Mulebone," which featured the music of Taj Mahal.

In 1993 he performed Off-Broadway as legendary blues player Robert Johnson in "Robert Johnson: Trick the Devil." He received rave reviews and became the 1993 winner of the Blues Foundation's "Keeping the Blues Alive Award? presented to him by Robert Cray at the W.C. Handy Awards ceremony.

Looking for more ways to combine his love of blues, music, and acting, Davis created material for himself. He wrote "In Bed with the Blues: The Adventures of Fishy Waters" -- an engaging and moving one man show. The Off-Broadway debut in 1994 received critical praise from the "New York Times" and the "Village Voice".

Davis' writing projects have also included a variety of theatre pieces and plays. "Mudsurfing," a collection of three short stories, received the 1991 Brio Award from the Bronx Council of the Arts. "The Trial," (later renamed, "The Trial: Judgement of the People,") an anti-drug abuse, one-act play that toured throughout the New York City shelter system, was produced Off-Broadway in 1990, at the McGinn Cazale Theater. Davis also arranged, performed and co-wrote the music for an Emmy award winning film, "To Be a Man." In the fall of 1995, his music was used in the national PBS series, "The American Promise."

Davis also performed in a theater piece with his parents, actors/writers Ossie Davis and Ruby Dee, entitled "Two Hah Hahs and a Homeboy," staged at the Crossroads Theatre in New Brunswick, NJ in the spring of 1995. The show combined material written by Davis and his parents, with music, African American Folklore and history, as well as performance pieces by Hurston and Hughes. Of Davis' performance, one reviewer observed that his style and writing, "sounds so deeply drenched in lost black traditions that you feel that they must predate him. But no, they don't. He created them."

In the past few years, Davis has concentrated much of his efforts on writing and performing music. In the fall of 1995, he released his Red House records debut "Stomp Down Rider," an album that captured Davis in a stunning live performance. The album landed on top lists all over the country, including in the "Boston Globe" and "Pulse."

Davis' next album, "Call Down the Thunder," paid tribute to the blues masters, but leaned more heavily towards his own powerful originals. The electrifying album solidified Davis' position as one of the most important blues artists of our time. It was named a top ten album of the year in the "Boston Globe" and "Pulse." "Acoustic Guitar" magazine called it one of the thirty essential CDs from a new generation of performers.

Davis' third Red House disc, "You Don't Know My Mind" explodes with passion and rhythm, and displays Davis' breadth as a composer and powerhouse performer. It was chosen as 'Blues Album of the Year' by the Association For Independent Music (formerly NAIRD). The "San Francisco Chronicle" gave the CD four stars, adding, "Davis' tough, timeless vocals blow through your brain like a Mississippi dust devil."

Charles M. Young summed up Davis' own take on the blues best when he wrote his review in "Playboy", "Davis reminds you that the blues started as dance music. This is blues made for humming along, stomping your foot, feeling righteous in the face of oppression and expressing gratitude to your baby for greasing your skillet."

Guy's fourth album, ?Butt Naked Free?, was produced by John Platania, former guitarist for Van Morrison. It included musician friends such as Levon Helm (The Band), multi-instrumentalist, Tommy ?T-Bone? Wolk (Hall & Oates, Carly Simon, 'Saturday Night Live' Band), drummer Gary Burke (Joe Jackson), and acoustic bassist, Mark Murphy (Walt Michael & Co., Vanaver Caravan). The musicians all performed ?Waitin' On the Cards to Fall? from this album on the Conan O'Brien show.

The latest album is ?give in kind?, and was also produced by John Platania. Music critic Dave Marsh wrote, ?Davis never loses sight of the blues as good time music, the original forum for dancing on top of one's sorrows. Joy made more exquisite, of course, by the sorrow from which it springs.?

Guy has contributed songs on a host of 'Tribute' and 'Compilation albums', including collections on bluesmen, Charley Patton and Robert Johnson, a Putamayo Records collection called, ?From Mali to Memphis?, for tradition-based rockers like the Grateful Dead, songwriters like Nick Lowe, and for Bob Dylan's 60th birthday, and alongside performers like Bonnie Raitt, Jackson Browne, and Bruse Springsteen for a collection of songs written by his friend, legendary folksinger, 'Uncle' Pete Seeger.

Most recently Guy had the honor of appearing in the PBS special on Jazz and Blues artist, Howard Armstrong.

It is Guy Davis that you'll see on an interactive video display at the Delta Blues Museum in Clarksdale, Mississippi, demonstrating and explaining the various Blues guitar styles.

He's also very proud to be involved with a project produced by his friend Larry Long, called ?Teaching Tolerance?. It's a CD collection of enriching songs combined together to help teach diversity and understanding. It was distributed in February 2004 by the Southern Poverty Law Center, and sent to every school in the country.


Rod played banjo with the Quarrymen from 1956 to mid 1957, he was replaced in the band by Paul. Since 1997 he has been playing guitar for the revived Quarrymen and sharing vocals with Len Garry. For Rod?s story see Hunter Davies? biography of the Quarrymen.

I lived in Woolton and first met John Lennon, Pete Shotton, Nigel Walley, Ivan Vaughan and Geoff Rhind at St. Peter's Sunday School when we were very small boys! I lived near Colin Hanton and we used to play street football together. I met Eric Griffiths when we both started at Quarry Bank School, and Len Garry when he became the Quarrymen's tea-chest bass player.

Eric invited me to join the Quarrymen in early 1957 just after I bought a banjo. He and John taught me which chords to play and I soon learnt to "busk". I never actually played with Paul as I drifted out of the Quarrymen in the summer of 1957. I stayed on at Quarry Bank into the 6th form but all the others had left, John Lennon to go to Liverpool College of Art, Pete Shotton to become a police cadet and Eric Griffiths to become an apprentice.

I decided to learn the guitar and so my brother Bernie and I sold our electric train set and bought a Spanish guitar. As I knew the principles from the banjo, I soon learnt enough guitar chords and became very interested in folk music. I played in a jazz trio when I was still at Quarry Bank school with Gerald Greenwood (piano) and Les Brough (drums).

In 1960 I went to study French and Spanish at Cambridge University and here I became a member of the St. Lawrence Folk-Song Society. As well as playing with some keen folk musicians such as Chris Rowley, Pete Clarke, John Morgan and Dick Quinnell, I met some Bluegrass pickers, Pete Sayers and John Holder. I soon became a Bluegrass addict and began to play mandolin and fiddle. I played guitar for country dances and banjo in several jazz bands, one of which made a record on Decca.

After Cambridge I went to teach English in Regensburg in Bavaria from '63 to '64 where I played banjo in a trad jazz band on Friday night and guitar in a mainstream band on Saturday nights.

Back in Liverpool in '64 I became a member of the Bluegrass Ramblers, playing mandolin and fiddle with Dave Gould and Bob Hughes. We appeared on "Opportunity Knocks" but opportunity didn't knock! I also played fiddle in a Ceilidh band. I taught French and Spanish until 1968 when I became an expedition driver for a company called Minitrek Expeditions, taking trips to Russia, Turkey and across the Sahara desert.

In 1970 I married one of my passengers and went to work for the YHA organising their Adventure Holiday programme. During this time I learnt to play American Old Timey fiddle in a well-known musicians' hangout in Chalk Farm in London, a pub called "the Engineer ".

We settled in Hertford and had two children, Sophie and Jonathan, now both in their twenties. I worked for a number of companies in the travel industry, including Paris Travel Service and Yugotours. I was divorced in 1982.

In the early 1980's I played guitar for a Tex-Mex band called the Armadillos, who played folk festivals and folk clubs throughout the country. In the mid 1980's we revived the name of the Bluegrass Ramblers and with some brilliant musicians - Bob Winquist, Rick Townend, Alan Ward and my sister Rosie we had a very successful band, playing Britain's top Bluegrass Festival at Edale and supporting big US names such as the Johnson Mountain Boys when they played the 100 Club, Oxford Street and the Half Moon, Putney. We appeared on radio and produced a cassette of our own numbers.

In the mid 80's I met my new partner, Janet, and we soon became very keen windsurfers, racing in the London Region and National events. I also started lecturing in Tourism at Uxbridge College.

In 1994, with John Duff Lowe, who played piano for the Quarrymen in 1958, we formed an electric band under the name of the Quarrymen. We made a CD and played several concerts in a touring show which included Cynthia Lennon, Denny Laine and the Merseybeats.

Since 1996 I now lecture part time at Brunel University as well as writing, publishing and translating and playing the guitar. Working with a brilliant guitarist called Doug Turner we have produced a fingerpicking guitar tutor and I have also completed a talking book version of Jim O'Donnell's book, "The day John met Paul".


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Guy Davis (Acoustic Blues and African-American Stories)

Whether Guy Davis is appearing on "Late Night With Conan O'Brien" or David Dye's "World Cafe" radio program, in front of 15,000 people on the Main Stage at the Winnipeg Folk Festival, or an intimate gathering of students at a Music Camp, Guy feels the instinctive desire to give each listener his all. His all is the Blues. The rout... more info

Rod Davis

Rod played banjo with the Quarrymen from 1956 to mid 1957, he was replaced in the band by Paul. Since 1997 he has been playing guitar for the revived Quarrymen and sharing vocals with Len Garry. For Rod?s story see Hunter Davies? biography of the Quarrymen. I lived in Woolton and first met John Lennon, Pete Shotton, Nigel Walley, Ivan Vaughan a... more info
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