Rev. Gary Davis is the real thing. The authentic blind-seer. He is a genius with a brightly burning spirit, enormous musical intelligence, technical brilliance, an encyclopedic memory, driving passion, deep faith, a raunchy and gracious sense of humor. A mystic. He is an icon of the style of Guitar he was born into, known today as the Piedmont blues. Through players of the first half of the twentieth century like Alfred Shultz, Mose Ranger, Merle Travis, and Chet Atkins, this is the signature American fingerpicking style that would so deeply inform the country, folk, blues and even rock and roll of our day.
Rev. Davis, (1896-1972) was born black in deep poverty in South Carolina, blind from an early age. He overcame these longest of odds to become world famous, a giant of American music. He brought together black and white styles, country gospel, folk themes, blues, jazz, ragtime, minstrel songs, dance tunes and popular song. He developed his own brilliant fingerpicking style that was deep, economical, and adaptable enough to easily cover all these genres. Supporting all his creativity was an unshakable faith that pulled him through the obscurity, the bitter hard times and crushing poverty he would endure until the folk music awakening of the fifties and sixties caught up to him.
Ernie Hawkins has transcribed 13 of Rev. Davis' best known blues and ragtime arrangements. Tunes such as Candyman, Cocaine Blues, Hesitation Blues, Baby Let Me Lay It on You, Spoonful and Delia are included alongside the ragtime instrumental tour de forces of Slow Drag (Cincinnati Flow Rag) and Make Believe Stunt (Maple Leaf Rag).
The playing of Rev. Davis has influenced generations of Guitar players from Blind Boy Fuller to Dave Van Ronk, Bob Dylan, David Bromberg, Ry Cooder, Jorma Kaukonen, Bob Weir, Stefan Grossman and Woody Mann. His tunes have been recorded by a host of today's finest rock musicians: The Grateful Dead, Hot Tuna, Bob Dylan, Jackson Browne and others.