Portland FolkSong presents Guy Davis, Blues Ambassador, with special guest Mary Flower at the Reedwood Friends Church 2901 SE Steele St. Friday March 15.
Born the middle child to legendary actor parents Ossie Davis and Ruby Dee, Davis always had music in his family background. His grandfather was a railroad worker who played the harmonica and his great-grandfather was a blues singer.
“When I was eight-years-old I went to a summer camp run by Peter Seeger’s brother John. I heard a lot of five-string banjos and twelve-string guitars. I heard the guitar and wanted to know how to play it; but the banjo was even more attractive to me.”
“My father bought me a banjo precisely at the point in American history when a black man did not need a banjo. He bought me a banjo because I asked for it. I am sure he would much rather have bought me a guitar because that was the happening folk instrument at the time; but I wanted a banjo.”
Guy credits his harmonica techniques to the legendary Sonny Terry. He followed his footsteps when he joined the Broadway production of “Finian’s Rainbow,” in the part originally performed in 1947 by Terry. When Davis switched from banjo to guitar, he learned the East Coast acoustic blues style of Willie McTell and others.
Call Down the Thunder, his third album, paid tribute to the blues masters but leaned heavily on his own powerful originals. It too was named a top ten album of the year in the Boston Globe and Pulse. Acoustic Guitar called it one of the “thirty essential CDs from a new generation of performers.” With thirteen albums, he’s been nominated for nearly a dozen Blues Awards over the years.
Guitarist, singer and songwriter Mary Flower is a rare breed of American roots artist. Her devotion to the art form is lovingly and historically accurate, and her creativity lends it vitality and energy that it might continue to evolve in an age of increasingly digitized and compressed music. Her finger picking guitar and lap-slide prowess is soulful and meter-perfect, a deft blend of the inventive, the dexterous and mesmerizing. Her supple honey-and-whiskey voice provides the perfect melodic accompaniment to each song’s story.
Doors open at 7 pm. Music at 7:30 pm. Advance tickets are $21, $18 PFS members $10.50 ages 12-18 (under 12 free). At the door: $25, $22 PFS members $12 ages 12-18 See portlandfolkmusic.org.