Saturday, February 20, 2016

The Gary Files # 21: Rev. Gary Davis

(I found this image here.)

An explanation: Since the name Gary is going extinct, I thought it incumbent upon me to celebrate more notable Garys than myself.  This is the twenty-first of a series!

The Reverend Gary Davis was, says the Wikipedia, "a blind African American blues & gospel singer & guitarist, who was also proficient on the banjo guitar & harmonica."  One of the greats of the country blues idiom, he had a long, long career, & was influential to generations of blues performers.

When did you first become aware of him?  Probably some time in the 1990s, when I started listening to Bob Dylan.  That lead to the discovery of blues artists, when I discovered my favorite blues is the earliest blues.

What do you mean?  I mean that I prefer the blues that was just a singer & a guitar.  Now, that's not a hard & fast rule, but my favorite blues performers - among which group I include Gary Davis - tend to be of that variety.

It has nothing to do with his name being Gary?  Probably not.  My favorite old blues performer is Blind Lemon Jefferson - or maybe Blind Willie Johnson - anyway, I never wanted to call myself "Lemon" or "Willie" because I liked them.

Or even "blind"?  One of the things I liked about Gary Davis is that people used to refer to him as "the Reverend Gary Davis" more often than "Blind Gary Davis."  It's not only weird to hear a blues performer called Gary, it seems strange that it was important that it was noted that the performer was blind.

Why do you think that is?  Do you mean, why were so many blues musicians who were blind, or why was important to put "blind" before their name?

Either.  In answer to the first question: There was a discussion about this on the Straight Dope website many years ago.  I am partial to one of the first explanations, which is: "1) Blacks got poor health care, so they were more likely to go blind, & 2) Once you are blind, your vocational options are limited, but you can still sing, & still play most musical instruments."

As far as the second question goes - I dunno, maybe it was a sign of authenticity that the musician was blind?  Or a way to get sympathy on the street, where most of them made their living?  Who knows.  It's become a blues cliché at this point.

How good was he?  Just look at him at the age of 71:

I could watch that over & over.  & have done so.

Was his name really Gary?  I believe so, yes.

Do you know why he was named Gary?  He's the oldest Gary I've discussed so far - born in 1896 - & according to this interactive web page, it was an uncommon name back then.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Whither Red Things?

How should I know? I didn't choose this week's theme! Ben did! Self Help Radio is all his today, & I hope you'll listen!

(Alas, I'm on my way back to Lexingtown & may not get to!)

Of course the show is on from 4-6 pm on WRFL 88.1 fm + online at <a href="">WRFL website</a>! & of course it'll be great!

Monday, February 15, 2016

Preface To Red Things: Why Does He Keep Blogging?

...When He's On Vacation? the title should finish.

Look, I told you I couldn't relax.

I do wish I could be in town to hear Ben do Self Help Radio.  I wish, actually, all of my favorite deejays could do Self Help Radio at least once, so I could hear ways to improve the show.  The truth is, I don't get a lot of constructive criticism for the show - I do get some occasional sweetly faked praise, & there are people who very happily tell me how much they hate the show - but only a few times has someone who knows better than I how to make good radio (& there are surely many, many, many of those someones) taken me aside & told me what I could do to make the show better, stronger, faster!

Otherwise, you know, I have to trust my instincts, which I am certain are terrible.

& that's why I am excited to hear Ben do the show - though I'll hear it later, not as it happens.  I bet there'll be insights aplenty!  So I hope you listen too!

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Oh, Also

While I'm on "vacation" (it really is impossible for me to even try to relax), I am obviously unable to do my radio show this week, but - as I will remind you more than once, & have reminded you once before, on my show last week, that the indomitable Ben Southworth (who hosts the excellent WRFL program "State Songs") will be sitting in the comfy Self Help Radio chair this week (it's more like a broken stool, but whatever) doing a show about "red things."

Why, that could be anything!  Marvelous!

Last night, restless after a day of doing shit, I ventured out to an unfamiliar movie theater, where I saw Deadpool, which I enjoyed.  But two weird things happened, one directly to me:

1) As soon as I sat down, the fellow two chairs away from me said, "I don't want to be rude, buddy, but you smell."  I said, "Smell?"  He said, "Yeah."  I said, "Smell like what?"  "You know," he said, "body odor, sweat."  I laughed & said, "That's not me!"  He said, "Hey, as soon as you got here, I smelled it."  Which was amazing - he smelled like exceptionally oily popcorn & whatever else he was shoving into his mouth.  He didn't bother me for the rest of the movie, so I suppose he figured out where the smell came from - I never got a whiff - but he didn't apologize, either.

2) One dude, about three rows in front of me, who looked a hell of a lot like a young version of actor/Rectify creator Ray McKinnon, spent the first fifteen minutes of the movie talking very loudly - some might say yelling - at the movie screen, apparently unhappy at the portrayal of Deadpool in the movie versus his comic book persona.  Eventually he was escorted out.  His female companion, I noticed, followed miserably after him.

That's what I get for going to see a movie the first Saturday night of its release!

Also - happy Valentine's Day to you!