Saturday, April 14, 2012

Guy Davis – The Adventures of Fishy Waters: In Bed with the Blues

The Adventures of Fishy Waters: In Bed with the Blues
Smokeydoke Records

Fishy Waters is a fictional character, an old time blues musician, created by Guy Davis for The Adventures of Fishy Waters: In Bed with the Blues, a one-man theatrical play in which Fishy Waters reminisces about his life, telling stories and singing songs, in a way that provides audiences with insight and context into the lives of early blues musicians and more particularly, into the times and societal situations that shaped their lives and music.

Guy has performed in productions of The Adventures of Fishy Waters a number of times since its debut in 1994 and has now released this 2-CD set as an audio play version. Although I’ve never seen the full production on stage, I have seen Guy do several excerpts over the years during club and festival concerts, so I eagerly looked forward to at least hearing the complete version. As I expected, listening to it was a rich and rewarding experience. If I was still doing my radio program, I would have played each of the two CDs from start to finish with hardly an interruption.

The stories Fishy Waters tells range from a humorous description of a one-legged grave robber to a devastating description of encountering a KKK lynching of a young African American boy.

While most of the production is devoted to stories, the play integrates a bunch of superbly performed songs – some of Guy’s own written in traditional styles as well as classics drawn from Reverend Gary Davis, Blind Willie McTell, Robert Johnson (who Guy has also played on stage) and Big Bill Broonzy.

Although, by now, Guy is probably best known as a blues musician, he is also an actor of substantial talent – something he probably comes by naturally as the son of acclaimed theatre and film actors Ossie Davis and Ruby Dee. In The Adventures of Fishy Waters: In Bed with the Blues, he blends his acting and musical talents to superb effect.

Listening to Guy as Fishy Waters tell these stories reminds me of listening to the likes of Sonny Terry & Brownie McGhee, Jay McShann, Howard "Louie Bluie" Armstrong, and other blues legends I've had the opportunity to know tell their first-hand accounts.

Pictured: Guy Davis and Mike Regenstreif at the 2006 Champlain Valley Folk Festival.

I'm now on Twitter.

--Mike Regenstreif

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