True Blues shows Chico the real deal

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Guy Davis, one of the three blues performers of the night, belts out a soulful song to start off the night filled with foot-tapping and audience-participate howling. Photo credit: Annie Paige

With the multitude of electronically produced music blasting from every radio station these days, it’s quite a breath of fresh air to experience raw, simplified music that’s anything but simple.

The talented musicians of True Blues took the stage on Thursday night at Laxson Auditorium.

Corey Harris opened the show by introducing Guy Davis as the first act of the night.

Davis treated the audience to a heartfelt and humorous performance with his twangy style, playing guitar and harmonica. He complemented his music with rich vocals and great musical storytelling ability.

Alvin Youngblood Hart was the second musician to play, following Davis’ set with his own mellow yet soulful sound.

Corey Harris followed Hart with music from his album titled “Fulton Blues,” featuring rhythmic acoustic picking and songs about life in Richmond, Virginia.

After each musician played a set of their own material, the three played a short set all together, combining their different styles to create a dynamic and entertaining closing performance.

The show had a very intimate feel.

The musicians conversed with audience members between songs, joked around and shared their own thoughts and experiences as blues artists. They shared about different places around the world they played, including New Orleans, Chicago, and many places in Europe, Asia, and Africa.

They also talked about other famous people who worked with them or inspired them. They really told the life story of the blues movement as they experienced it.

Corey Harris also shared how the three of them met back in 1996 for the first time at the Chicago blues festival and how they’ve been close ever since then.

Ellen Jackson, an usher for Chico Performances, said she thought the different perspectives and experience that each musician brought to the performance made it a really rich experience for the audience.

Hart explained that he started playing guitar seriously at age 14. In the late 70s, the blues wasn’t all that popular as a genre, and it was just guitar music.

Hart added that despite the geographical differences, audiences he has played to throughout the world have an appreciation for the blues.

“Music fans are either blues fans or they’re not,” Hart said.

Steve Givens added that his famous friend was booked for his first gig with Grammy award-winning blues artist Taj Mahal. His opening performance gained him a lot of attention, and from there, his career took off.

He got signed to record his first album, “Big Mama’s Door,” which was released in 1996.

Hart said the whole experience was surreal, because it was a moment you work up to for decades.

Back when he got his start it was harder to get your work out there. There was a long process and it all depended on if you were good enough to get a record deal he said.

“I didn’t think anything like that was gonna happen,” Hart said.

Hart also explained what it was like working with Rock and Roll Hall of Famer, Bo Diddley.

“He was like a walking, talking cartoon character,” Hart said. “You meet those kind of people in your life sometimes. After a week we kind of hit it off, because we had 55 days on a tour together.”

Givens added that Hart had also hung out with Hubert Sumlin which was amazing because Sumlin was an inspiration to revolutionary artists such as Jimi Hendrix and Eric Clapton.

The True Blues performance was a great reminder that in the age of technology, it’s still possible to enjoy great music without all the studio-produced bells and whistles featured in most of today’s popular hits.

All you need is three guys, three guitars and some great stories to tell.

Sarah Scharf can be reached at [email protected] or @theorion_news on Twitter.