Category Archives: Blues Docu’s

Classic Blues and Gospel songs: Reverend Gary Davis

Classic Blues and Gospel Songs: Reverend Gary Davis

There is something special about the guitar tune of “I’m The Light Of The World”, it represents the guitar skills of Reverend Gary Davis brilliantly . This classic song is one of my favorite Ragtime gospel blues songs. For an eighty plus year old song it somehow surprises me that every aspect of songwriting is perfect.

Rev. Davis was an icon in the East Coast School of Ragtime guitar. His talent inspired musicians Including Jefferson Airplane’s Jorma KaukonenBob Dylan and Taj Mahal

Origins Rev. Gary Davis

The Rev. was born on April 30, 1896, in Laurens County, south of Spartanburg, in the Piedmont section of upstate South Carolina. At a young age Davis started playing harmonica and guitar. He teamed up with some ragtime musicans around 1910 or 1911 and since that day Reverend Blind Gary Davis performed a lot in the streets.

Blues Street performer

Gary Davis was a street performer, according to his official biography.  His repertoire consisted Blues, Gospel and Ragtime, and he switched often between those styles “to make it harder for the police to interrupt him”. (Bruce Eder, All-Music Guide)

He began taking the gospel material more seriously, and in 1937 he became an ordained minister. After that, he usually refused to perform any blues.

Harlem, New York Days – Reverend Gary Davis

During World War II Davis moved to New York , and began preaching and playing on streetcorners in Harlem. About his  Harlem Days Trevor Laurence & Simeon Hutner made a fantastic film-documentary called “Harlem Street Singer”  The film traces Davis’s journey out of poverty in the Deep South to his iconic status in the folk and rock scene in 1960s New York. Watch the trailer below.

Harlem Street Singer trailer

Rediscovery by the Folk Revival Movement

During the fifties and sixties in New York folk and blues had a huge revival movement. Son House, Big Bill Broonzy and many others experienced the impact. Also Reverend Gary Davis was “rediscovered” by the folk revival movement, and after some initial reticence, he agreed to perform as part of the budding folk music revival.

He also teached guitar during this period including David Bromberg and the Jefferson Airplane’s Jorma Kaukonen (who later recorded Davis’s “I’ll Be Alright” on his acclaimed solo album Quah!).

Jorma Kaukonen Jefferson Airplane

Jorma Kaukonen, the guitarist of Jefferson Airplane and Hot Tuna, recorded a beautiful version of “I’m The Light of This World” on his 1974  Quah album.  He took lessons from Gary Davis an Rolling Stone magazine ranked him #54 on its list of 100 Greatest Guitarists.

Reverend Gary Davis passed away in may 1972 of a heart attack.

Jorma Kaukonen – I’m The Light Of This World – 5/20/1978

Photo: Jefferson Airplane on who Rev gary Davis had a big influence Credit By KRLA/Beat Publications-page 1 [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

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Documentary | The Prisonaires Doo-Wop from Prison

Doo-Wop group formed in State Penitentiary Tennessee

About The Prisonaires you could write multiple books, even make a movie that shows more action than you see nowadays. As their name suggests, this doo-wop group was formed while each member was in the State Penitentiary, Tennessee, USA. The founding member was lead singer Johnny Bragg.

While in prison the group was paraded around a variety of receptions and civic functions as demonstration of the jail’s enlightened rehabilitation programme. Back in the day they played a mix of blues, gospel and pop songs under armed guard. It was the new warden James E. Edwards who arranged two talent scouts from Sam Phillips’ Sun Records to see the group. They were subsequently driven down to Memphis in June 1953 to record a song written by Bragg and fellow inmate Robert Riley, “Just Walkin’ In The Rain”. (source Sun Records)

Formed while serving 594 years

The Prisonaires were formed when Bragg joined up with two prison gospel singers, Ed Thurman and William Stewart (each of whom was doing 99 years for murder), and two new penitentiary arrivals, John Drue Jr. (three years for larceny) and Marcell Sanders (one-to-five for involuntary manslaughter).

Sun Studio, Memphis, TN (3636820842)
About the life and legacy of the Prisonaires Cass Paley made a beautiful documentary which includes interviews with Sam Phillips Jonny Bragg. and warden James E. Edwards. A thing you probably did not know about Bragg was his training technique by putting a bucket on his head, to enlarge the echo of his voice. It gained him the Nickname “Buckethead”.

Director – Producer Cass Paley

Filmmaker and director Cass Paley is president of Cassel Productions, an independent, full-service production company that has produced numerous documentaries for American television and international broadcast over the past 20 years, including the Saga of Western Man series for ABC television and the Emmy Award winning National Geographic special, Journey to the Outer Limits.

You might know Paley as the archivist for the Roy Orbison Estate and has produced three DVD projects: Austin City Limits Concert, Roy Orbison’s Greatest Hits, and The 1973 Australian Concert.

I can highly recommend this documentary to all roots, blues and doo-wpo lovers. I have watched in any case with a whole lot of pleasure.

Fiind out more about ‘The Prisonares Documentary’  on Facebook  and the official Website.

The Documentary about “The Prisonaires”. The Prisonaires were a vocal singing group in the 1950’s made up of incarcerated inmates serving time at the maximum penal facility in Nashville, Tennessee. The Prisonaires recorded several tracks at the now famous Sun Records and several hit songs including “Just Walkin in the Rain”. Johnny Bragg and Sam Phillips brought the vocal perfection of The Prisonaires to the public through very extraordinary measures and difficult political times. Thanks to the ernest efforts of then Governor Clement’s prison reform, The Prisonaires forever changed the landscape of music history.”


Picture credit: By dbking from Washington, DC (Sun Studio, Memphis, TN  Uploaded by LongLiveRock) [CC BY 2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

Introduction by the Director – Cass Paley

The Prisonaires – Walkin’ In the Rain

The Prisonaires (Official) – That Chick’s Too Young to Fry

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Documentary “Villa Del Vibro” John Amor Blues Group

John Amor Blues Group - British Blues Rock Music
John Amor Blues Group – British Blues Rock Music

Documentary “Villa Del Vibro” John Amor Blues Group

You might know John Amor as a member of the Hoax, one of the most influential British Blues inspired band of the last twenty years. The Hoax built their reputation on a mix of powerful bluesy punch rock. The Hoax performed through the mid-nineties over Europe and around the world. The John Amor Blues Group is a project where John Amor continues to produce Blues Rock inspired music.

Raw Rhythmic John Amor Blues Music

John Amor Blues Group released their first album “John Amor Blues Group” in 2011, an album that is between the line of garage rock, rock and blues. It is expressive and free feeling music raw and rhythmic.

Think about a jam between The Rolling Stones, The Faces, Radio Moscow Muddy Waters and Reign Wolf. That is what you get if you listen to the John Amor Blues Group.

Villa Del Vibro AlbumJohn Amor Blues Group

Their latest album “Villa Del Vibro” is less raw-egdes but nevertheless very well produced album. Cool about this album and about this band in general is the self made documentary. ‘Villa Del Vibro’ the documentay is like the sound of their music a raw documentary. Filmed with their Iphones in only one-take-shots. It is a candid look into the recording process and provides much laughter along the way

The Documentary shows a band that prepares, struggles and learns to understand what is takes to record a top class album. You will see a band discuss the reality of the situation after four days of preparing. A conversation about the budget and the energy of the recordings. To what level can a band impose the pressure on their performance? How do four instrumentalist react on feedback? Those questions will be answered in a natural way.

‘Villa Del Vibro ans The Trouble With Feedback’ – An iPhone Documentary. from SeeandHear on Vimeo.


John Amor Blues Group Stops

In late 2012 the John Amor Blues Group decided to call it a day. On their website they announced: “After two fabulous years making music and touring, receiving much critical acclaim in the process, we’ve decided to call it a day.” Leaving this great documentary for all the fans behind.

The Hoax Tour

Like many other blues musicians you won’t get a chance to see the John Amor Blues Group on stage again. The Hoax decided they will be playing in Holland and Belgium in 2014 again. Don’t miss their shows…

For the BBC Radio 2 John Amor Blues Group recorded a live session. Watch the recordings below:

Juggernaut BBC Radio 2 Session from Jon Amor Blues Group on Vimeo.


‘BBC Radio 2 Live Session’ Jon Amor Blues Group. ‘Holy Water’

‘BBC Radio 2 Live Session’ Jon Amor Blues Group. ‘Holy Water’. from Jon Amor Blues Group on Vimeo.

‘Eagle’ BBC Radio 2 Session

‘Eagle’ BBC Radio 2 Session from Jon Amor Blues Group on Vimeo.

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Documentary How Britain Got The Blues

Documentary How Britain Got The Blues

Britain played a huge part in the revival of the blues in the sixties. Bands like the Rolling Stones,The Animals, John Mayall and Cream all inspired by blues discovered this great genre back in the fifties. Where was this music comming from? What does all that slang lyrics mean? and what is a Howlin’ Wolf or a Muddy Water. All these question are answered in the fantastic documentary  by How Britain Got The Blues by BBC 4.

“Was it the drabness of post-war austerity or the influx of blues records coming across by boat? Whatever, this is a film that any blues lover should watch. Featuring the likes of Muddy Waters, Sister Rosetta Tharpe, Chris Barber and Paul Jones, this tells the story of how Britain got the Blues and shipped it back to the States.”

Watch the Documentary here:

Second part of this brilliant film, showing how young Brits fell for the blues and changed the face of popular music forever.

Third Part of this brilliant documentary about the British blues boom of the 1960s. Featuring the Yardbirds,the Animals,Manfred Mann and the Pretty Things.

Part four of this excellent film deals with the period when American blues artists started to tour Britain. Some great stories from Paul Jones, Val Wilmer, Micke Fleetwood and others about their meetings with Howlin’ Wolf, John Lee Hooker, Jesse Fuller and Sonny Boy Williamson.

Part 5 shows hoe the second wave of blues purists, lead by Eric Clapton, rebelled against the bands with their eyes on the main chance. Featuring Jimmy Reed, Fleetwood Mac,The Yardbirds,The Pretty Things, The Bluesbreakers,Cream,Eric Clapton and others.

The final part shows groups like Cream and Led Zeppelin turned up their amps and moved from clubs to large stadiums overnight.

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