Favorite

Piedmont Blues Interpreter 

Hawkins was playing Dock Boggs and Charlie Patton blues on his newly acquired prize when a friend introduced him to the music of Rev. Gary Davis, a blues man who began his career in the 1920s and who was still sporadically recording. Davis' unique style forever changed Hawkins' musical world. Hawkins has since become the premier interpreter of Davis' music on the contemporary blues scene.

"Incredible music, great ease, tremendous singing," Hawkins says, describing his mentor's Piedmont-based style. "It's a whole different kind of guitar playing, really. Gary Davis took [the Piedmont style] to a different level. He had bass voices and middle harmony voices and treble melody voices. The way he could do that against his singing … Just an incredibly complex, deep kind of thing."

After high school, Hawkins went to New York City in 1965 to find the elderly blues man. Davis took him under his wing, glad to teach his music to an eager and talented fan. Hawkins also experienced the reverend's spiritual side.

"He'd tell me every few days the Lord would send him a song," Hawkins recalls. "He was tapping into a deep well, let's say it that way."

Hawkins now uses Davis' music as a foundation for his repertoire that blends rags and gospel with African and Appalachian music in a show that mixes music with history.

"I try to talk about what I'm doing just to give a little background," he says, "so it doesn't just exist in a vacuum." — Ames Arnold



Ernie Hawkins plays Arthur's Inn of Virginia, 5215 W. Broad St., at 8:30 p.m. Friday, Aug. 6. Tickets are $8 in advance and $10 at the door. Chicago Cy opens. Check www.wegotblues.com for more information.



Letters to the editor may be sent to: letters@styleweekly.com

Favorite

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

  • Re: Review: Richmond Jazz Festival at Maymont

    • It is a good event but every effort should be made to move it to…

    • on August 22, 2017
  • Re: Interview: Gregg Allman

    • I want to use this great opportunity to thank Dr. Akereco for helping me to…

    • on August 19, 2017
  • Re: Review: Richmond Triangle Players' "The View UpStairs"

    • Thanks for coming to the show, Claire! Just a small edit, my last name is…

    • on August 18, 2017
  • More »
  • Latest in Arts and Culture

    Copyright © 2017 Style Weekly
    Richmond's alternative for news, arts, culture and opinion
    All rights reserved
    Powered by Foundation