Harlem Street Singer – The Reverend Gary Davis Story is a new documentary that tells the story of Gary Davis, one of the most underrated musicians of our time. Though Davis has had a huge influence on many well known musicians including Bob Weir and Jerry Garcia of the Grateful Dead, Jorma Kaukonen of Jefferson Airplane, David Bromberg, Bob Dylan, Woody Mann, Dave Van Ronk, and Townes van Zandt, his story has gone virtually unknown until now.
The first official screening of the film will take place this Friday, January 25, 2013, at 6:30pm at the Institute of Contemporary Art in Boston, MA. The screening will be followed by a live performance by Woody Mann, Paul Rishell, and Annie Raines.
Davis, who became blind as an infant, was born in South Carolina and worked his way up to Harlem in New York City where he was ordained as a Baptist minister and began preaching and playing on street corners. He was a master guitar player with a unique fingerpicking style and was a blues, ragtime, and gospel music virtuoso. His guitar playing was complemented by a soulful voice that defined feeling.
Harlem Street Singer is co-produced by guitar extraordinaire Woody Mann, who was a student of the late Davis. The film includes audio recordings from Woody Mann’s guitar lessons with Davis, as well as interviews, archival footage, rediscovered photographs, and concert and informal musical sequences by Davis and contemporary artists who have been influenced by him.
Having seen an earlier draft of the film last year, I feel that Harlem Street Singer will appeal not only to music lovers of all kinds, but to anyone who can appreciate a true American story with a rare glimpse into the life of a unique and talented man.
Visit the Institute of Contemporary Art website for more information, including ticket sales.
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