Guy Davis: The Language of the Blues

Live at NPR

Guy Davis performs a Muddy Waters classic, on an instrument not usually associated with the song.

From 'All Songs Considered'

A Chicken Thief and Liar

Guy Davis' CD Skunkmello gets its name from F. Samuel Skunkmello, "a famous chicken thief" whose story can be found in the album's liner notes but few other places. Skunkmello, it is said, "was a legend who stood shoulder to shoulder with giants among chicken thieves such as Montana Jack, Yip Cane and Mox O'Leasy. He was caught and hanged around 1900."

'Skunkmello'

Hear selections from Guy Davis' new CD:

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  • "It Takes Love to Make a Home"
  • Album: Skunkmello
  • Artist: Guy Davis
  • Label: Red House
  • Released: 2006
 
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  • "Blackberry Ramble"
  • Album: Skunkmello
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  • Label: Red House
  • Released: 2006
 
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  • "Hooking Bull at the Landing"
  • Album: Skunkmello
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To Guy Davis, the stories behind Southern blues are as important as the familiar music that defines the genre. His new CD, Skunkmello is full of legendary tales, old and new.

Guy Davis i i

hide captionGuy Davis is the son of the great actors Ossie Davis and Ruby Dee.

Jana Denzler/Courtesy Red House Records
Guy Davis

Guy Davis is the son of the great actors Ossie Davis and Ruby Dee.

Jana Denzler/Courtesy Red House Records

Davis is the son of the great actors Ossie Davis and Ruby Dee. He says his blues music is inspired by the Southern speech of his grandmother.

"What draws me into the blues, I think, is the music not only of the instruments but the music of the language," Davis says.

Guy Davis once played the title in the off-Broadway play Robert Johnson: Trick the Devil about the famous bluesman who, legend has it, made a pact with the devil. "I think that my Dad might agree that there might not be a black man in America who, at some time or other, hadn't sold his soul to the devil…" Davis says.

"The black man has been catching hell all through slave times and since," he says. "And I think we sort of have a personal relationship with the devil and God, you know, on a name kind of basis."

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Skunkmello

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  • Album: Skunkmello
  • Artist: Guy Davis
  • Label: Red House
  • Released: 2006
 

Skunkmello

Purchase Music

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Purchase Featured Music

  • Album: Skunkmello
  • Artist: Guy Davis
  • Label: Red House
  • Released: 2006
 

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