Reverend Gary Davis: Live And Kickin’

Canada’s Justin Time label has formed the subsidiary Just A Memory Records to release vintage live recordings from blues and folk-blues legends. The first batch of their Collectors’ Classics series includes Reverend Gary Davis’ Live And Kickin’, Muddy Waters & Friends’ Goin’ Way Back and the Sonny Terry & Brownie McGhee document, Live At The New Penelope Cafe. All were recorded in Montreal in 1967. Davis flaunts his wildly rambunctious and highly influential acoustic guitar style on gospel flavored numbers like “You Got To Move” (recorded by the Rolling Stones), “Samson And Delilah” (recorded by the Grateful Dead) and “Twelve Gates To The City,” along with more secular numbers like “Maple Leaf Rag” and “Buck Dance.” The Muddy document is especially rare and particularly fascinating. Recorded around a single microphone set up in the living room of the Prince Arthur Street rooming house where he and his entourage had been staying, it is an intimate portrait of Muddy in slippers and purple velvet house robe unleashing his imposing pipes in a kind of back porchy ambiance, accompanied only by two acoustic guitars. Even the great pianist Otis Spann plays a little guitar on this casual “stoop” session. Blues collectors should pick up on this rarity.