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Harlem Street Singer
Running Time: 77 minutes
Venue: Bay Model, Sausalito
Cast: Bob Weir, John Cohen, Jorma Kaukonen, Peter Yarrow, Happy Traum, John Hammond, Rambliní Jack Elliott, Stefan Grossman, Barry Kornfeld
Showtime: Tuesday, June 03, 2014 @ 06:00 PM
Director: Trevor Laurence & Simeon Hutner
Description: [Screening @ Tiburon Film Society]
Harlem Street Singer tells the story of Reverend Gary Davis, the great ragtime, blues and gospel musician. The film showcases Davisís unique, pianistic approach to the guitar, which defied categories of popular music and left fellow musicians in awe. Born poor and blind in rural South Carolina in 1896, Davis was a guitar prodigy, making his first guitars and banjos from his grandmotherís pie tins at age 7. At age 14, he was playing in a band with the great blues musician Willie Walker. By the time he moved to Durham, North Carolina in the 1920s, he was regarded as a guitar master.
After becoming an ordained minister, Davis moved to New York, where other musicians quickly recognized his genius; he was soon jamming with Leadbelly, Woody Guthrie, Brownie McGhee, and others. But success was elusive and he continued to play on the streets. Eventually Davis gained a following of disciples who saw him as both mentor and father figure. Interviews with many of these former students and admirers, including Bob Weir of the Grateful Dead, Rambliní Jack Elliott, David Bromberg, Jorma Kaukonen of Jefferson Airplane, John Hammond, Peter Yarrow, and many others describe how he came to influence a generation of musicians.
Davis finally found success during the 1960s Folk Revival when artists such as Peter, Paul and Mary and the Grateful Dead recorded his music. He performed and recorded widely and was finally able to get off the streets and live a comfortable life. He died in 1972.
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