Guy Davis is a two-time Grammy nominee for Best Traditional Blues, a musician, Actor, Author, and Songwriter. Guy uses a blend of roots, blues, folk, rock, rap, spoken word, and world music to comment on and address the frustrations of social injustice, touching topics of politics, historical events, and common life struggles. His background in theater is pronounced through the lyrical storytelling of songs “God’s Gonna Make Things Over” about the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre, “Welcome to My World”, and “Got Your Letter In My Pocket”. His storytelling is painful, deep, and real, an earthy contrast to modern-day commercial music, meant to create thought underlined by gentle tones from his guitar or banjo fingerpicking.
A self-taught “Renaissance Man”, he first heard the banjo at a summer camp run by John Seeger, the brother of the American Folk Musician, Pete Seeger.
His records while terse and truthful are softened by songs like “We All Need More Kindness In This World”, denoting lyrical inspiration from Pete Seeger’s “If I Had A Hammer”. Then, teased with lyrically strutting works nudged by hip hop and honky tonk like “Kokomo Kidd”. The contrast between pieces provides a robust, balanced experience, while giving Guy and his audience a healthy outlet for frustration through song and dance.
Along with music performance, Guy has written several scripts for stage and film. He recently debuted his latest piece, “Sugarbelly and Other Tales My Father Told Me” at the famed Crossroads Theatre in New Brunswick, NJ. He Previously present his other show at the Crossroads, “The Adventures of Fishy Waters: In Bed with the Blues”, a one-man show whose Off-Broadway debut in 1994 received critical praise from The New York Times and the Village Voice. Also at the Crossroads Guy appeared with his parents in a show there called “Two Hah-hahs’ and a Homeboy”. Guy also starred in the Off-Broadway production of “Robert Johnson; Trick The Devil” at the New Federal Theater which earned him a “Keeping The Blues Alive” Award from The Blues Foundation. On Broadway, Guy was in the cast of the Zora Neale Hurston, Langston Hughes Play, “Mulebone”, which featured the music of Taj Mahal. And in 2009-2010, in a revival of “Finian’s Rainbow”, Guy undertook the role that was originated by one of his musical heroes, Sonny Thomas in the original 1947 production.
Guy’s earlier works in theatre include him creating a show called, “The Trial” (later renamed, “The Trial: Judgement of the People”), an anti-drug abuse, one-act play that toured throughout the New York City shelter system, and was produced Off-Broadway in 1990, at the McGinn Cazale Theater. Another work, “Mudsurfing”, is a collection of three short stories, and received the 1991 Brio Award from the Bronx Council on the Arts.
“To Be a Man”, is an Emmy Award-winning film, and the music for it was arranged, performed, and co-written by Guy. In 1995, Guy’s music was used in the national PBS series, The American Promise. His music has also been used for The PBS “The Story Hour” Theme Song. Guy portrayed Dr. Josh Hall for one season on the Daytime Soap, “One Life to Live”. He appeared in and co-wrote with Dr. John for the Nickelodeon show “Whoopie Goldberg’s Littleberg”. He was a guest on the Conan O’Brien Show with his all-star band featuring T-Bone Wolk (Hall & Oats, SNL), John Plantania (Van Morrison, Chip Taylor), Levon Helm (the band), Gary Burke (Bob Dylan, Joe Jackson), and Mark Murphy (Walt Michael, Natalie Merchant). On the big screen, Guy starred opposite Rae Dawn Chong in the seminal breakdancing film, “Beat Street”, produced by Harry Belafonte. Guy performed 400 consecutive online half hour “Coffee with Kokomo” shows during the pandemic.
He sings, plays six and twelve string guitars, the five-string banjo, harmonica, and Didgeridoo.
Guy has performed before the Crowned Heads of Denmark, and even the great Jacques Cousteau. He’s played alongside Pete Seeger, Bruce Springsteen, Ian Anderson of Jethro Tull, Levon Helm, Dr. John, Kris Kristofferson, Buffy Saint-Marie, T-Bone Burnett, Taj Mahal, Keb Mo, John Hammond, John Sebastian, John Denver and Don MaClean. He has opened for Chuck Berry, Joan Armatrading, James Cotton, and B.B.King. He has performed in 48 of the 50 states, throughout Europe, the Scandinavian States, Australia, Indonesia, Mexico, Colombia, Ecuador, Costa Rica, Poland, The Czech Republic, Russia, The Ukraine, Georgia, Romania, Bulgaria, Turkey, Canada, Greenland, The Shetland Islands, The Faroe Islands, and The UK. He’s been chased out of Red Square in Moscow, sung in Soviet Occupied East Berlin, and performed standing in front of an iceberg in Greenland.
When asked about his experience as a performer, Guy has replied, ““There is no tale so tall that I cannot tell it, nor song so sweet that I cannot sing it.”
His performances feature a mix of his original songs and cover songs by Muddy Waters, Howlin Wolf, Pete Seeger, Bob Dylan, Mance Lipscombe, Blind Willie McTell, Leadbelly, Lemon Jefferson, and many others. His admiration for antiquities parallels his love of music, collecting the “dust of old places and antiques, people who have gone before him” like savoring the ghosts of old sounds while still enjoying modern music. He is a songwriter greatly influenced by his love of theater and storytelling, who derives joy from touring and seeing people from all walks of life. His hope is to bring people together, with the commonality that we are all people regardless of class, race, or personal experience. While not touring he writes and performs one man plays and teaches an acting Master Classes in blues guitar styles, harmonica, or acting/stage presence at music camps Common Ground On The Hill, SAMW, SWANNANOA, Centrum, and others. Guy developed an education program spotlighting the Blues For Young Listeners, and has been on the artist posters of The Lincoln Center Institute, “Young Audiences of NJ”, and The Kennedy Center. He has performed for children across the U.S. and Canada, as well as in Greenland, Ecuador, Indonesia, Australia, The UK, and The Basque Region of Spain. His song “I Will Be Your Friend” was the titles to a teacher’s aide project that included two dozen songs and “Activities For Little Peace Makers” created by The Southern Poverty Law Center called Teaching Tolerance.