Tuesday, August 29, 2006

More Downhome Blues

Eb Davis, one of Arkansas’ great soul-blues singers, has a new CD out, Eb Davis and the Super-band: Live at the A-Trane, Berlin (Soul Defender), recorded last year before an enthusiastic crowd in the German capital, where he has lived for many years.

The band is made up of both American and German musicians, including Davis’ wife, Nina, on piano, organ and vocal. Many of the songs are Davis originals, but he also performs songs by fellow Arkansan Junior Wells, as well as Willie Dixon, Larry Garner and others.

Davis enjoys life in Germany and spreading the blues around Europe.

“What I’m hoping to accomplish is to get more people in the land that I love to come to know more about a native son who has taken what he learned in the Delta and spread it around the world,” Davis told us after he finished the CD.

What follows are my liner notes to “Eb Davis and the Superband: Live at the A-Trane, Berlin:”

Eb Davis was the most impressive singer at the Arkansas Blues and Heritage Festival in Helena (formerly the King Biscuit Blues Festival) in October 2005. Davis, a native of Elaine, Ark., which is near Helena, now lives in Berlin, but he comes home as often as he can, although his fans back home don’t think he comes back often enough.

There were plenty of fine singers and terrific guitar players at the Helena festival (Robert Junior Lockwood, another Arkansas native, also played at the festival, as he does every year), but Davis’ fine voice made him the favorite with many of the festivalgoers. He has a great stage presence and sense of style and once filled in for the Drifters while they traveled in Europe, which is why he’s now settled in Germany.

He’ll remind you of Junior Parker (another former Arkansas resident), but you can hear traces in his voice of other great Arkansas performers he heard while growing up in the Delta in the 1950s and 1960s. Yes, besides the Mississippi Delta, there is also an Arkansas Delta, which has produced almost as many musical giants as the region across the river: Albert King, Luther Allison, Al Green, Jimmy McCracklin, Son Seals, Roosevelt Sykes, Junior Wells and many others.

Davis, who was born in 1945, is old enough to have soaked in their musical influences, as well as the sounds of Memphis, where he grew up.

He’s a great soul-blues singer who reminds you of other Arkansas-born singers, such as Jimmy Witherspoon, but mostly Eb is his own man, skillfully blending in the Gospel influences from his childhood and creating a sound that is a constant joy to listen to. He’s hip. He’s soulful. His music will move you. It will send you back to Arkansas.

Check out his CDs, including “Wanna Talk About You” (Furniture Records) with Eugene (Hide-away) Bridges and “Fool for the Ladies” with Big Jay McNelly (Wonderland Records). Wonderful music. Davis stands out as one of the best and must not be missed if he performs in your area.

The good news is that he has a new CD out, recorded in 2005.

Turn up the volume and enjoy the greatest music in the world, created and nurtured in the Delta, the most musical region on earth.

If you can’t make it to the Delta, listen to EB Davis on his fine CD or catch him in Europe, but if you’re really lucky, someday you might catch him and his band on his native soil back in the Delta. See you there.

For a mini-Chicago blues festival, check out Michael Coleman and the Delmark All-Stars: Blues Brunch at the Mart (Delmark), recorded live last June at the Jazz Record Mart in downtown Chicago on the same weekend that the city holds its annual blues festival.

Every year, Bob Koester, the producer and record-shop owner, brings in his stable of stars for a free show — and what a lineup. Besides Coleman, who does a soulful version of “The Sky Is Crying,” performers include several other Chicago greats: Lurrie Bell, Bonnie Lee, Steve Freund, Zora Young, Steve Behr, Shirley Johnson, Aaron Moore, the late Willie Kent and Arkansas’ own Tail Dragger.

The music is great and it’s like having a blues festival in your home — and it’s cheaper than the price of gasoline. Enjoy.


Post a Comment

<< Home