So all y’all want y’alls blues to be “REAL” huh? Real enough to feel it, taste it. Performed by “REAL” blues talent. Not some slick, polished, faster ‘n louder guitar playing kid from the suburbs. But the kinda blues that can only be found in “REAL” jooks. The kinda “REAL” blues that comes outa the Mississippi-Arkansas Delta or Mid-Georgia or the Carolina Piedmont or South Side of Chicago or Mississippi Hill Country or the Black Belt of Alabama or… well you get the idea. The “REAL” home of the “REAL” blues.
If that’s what your lookin’ for then look no further. Go to the Music Maker Relief Foundation for some of the very best “REAL” roots-blues to be found anywhere in the world. A non-profit organization founded by Tim and Denise Duffy in 1994 in Winston-Salem, NC. “…to preserve the musical traditions of the South by directly supporting the musicians who make it, ensuring their voices will not be silenced by poverty and time.” They have now helped over 300 musicians, issued over 150 cd’s and produced “live” performances all over the USA and foreign countries.
The list is extensive. Everything from acoustic to electric to gospel to folk. Names like Piedmont guitarist/vocalist Etta Baker and 83 year old John Dee Holeman. Jackson, Mississippi harp player Jerry “Boogie” McCain. Georgia songstress Precious Bryant. And West Virginia native Carl Rutherford who can trace his roots back to McDowell County in the 1890’s.
However we’d like to recommend Georgia Drumbeat by James Davis. As “REAL” as can be, Davis was born 1931 in Houston County, GA. His ancestors have been in the Mid-Georgia area since 1845 when plantation owner William M. Davis bought 200 slaves from South Carolina and 200,000 acres of farmland near Perry, GA. Mid-Georgia remains today a vast untapped and undocumented hotbed of music.
James Davis’ music might be most at home, not necessarily in a juke joint, but instead played on a street corner or parking lot outside a grocery or hardware store. A place where people might break out in impromptu dance and maybe toss a few coins into an open guitar case. Similar to some of the better known Mississippi Hill Country blues. Based on the fife ‘n drum tradition, this is some of the deepest down drumbeat anywhere east of Gravel Springs, MS. It also has elements of blues and country mixed in. Fife ‘n drum is one of the oldest African-American music traditions. Perhaps a take on colonial English marching songs. It’s said to been played by slaves at Jefferson’s Monticello. It’s still played today mainly in the rural South. James says the people of Mid-Georgia called it the old country drum beat. Soon as you hear it you’re gonna want to catch a Trailways bus to Perry, GA and find Mr. Davis. Or maybe put him on a plane and fly him to your local festival this summer. Sadly however, there’ll be no more performances or recording from James Davis. He suffered a stroke in 1998 and passed away in 2007.
Georgia Drumbeat has over an hour of James Davis’ original trance inducing, raw guitar with Gilbert Henderson on drums. Purchase it and other great roots music from Music Maker Relief Foundation and at the same time support these little known musician gems.
What’s worth keeping is worth passing on. Without assistance, many of these cultural treasures would be silenced with the passing of time. Support makes it possible for artists to live in safety and comfort while sharing their music with the world. To help go to website and click Donate and/or Membership and receive four new releases per year.