by: John Valenteyn

Morgan Davis is a bluesman with a penetrating, uncompromising view of his field and not surprisingly, his albums appear infrequently. He provides a useful example: playing Robert Johnson's "When You Got A Good Friend" on a cigar box guitar, an instrument Johnson may have known well. With only three strings, it forced a simplification of playing that illuminates the song. This disc is not a musicological exercise, but Morgan's insistence on mostly solo performances does highlight his singular attention to detail and he does not disappoint. He also writes original songs that easily withstand comparison to the classics he's re-interpreted. His opener, "Sure As You Live", deals with mortality and self-reliance. The tightly focused recording is mesmerizing. In his notes, he points out he's opened every set with a Jimmy Reed song and here with "Thank You Mr. Reed" he acknowledges that debt, using no fewer than 27 of his song titles in the lyric. More importantly.......

Read More:

by: Alison Lang
photo: Rob Fournier

Blues vet and Nova Scotia import Morgan Davis
releases a love letter to his adopted province.

"Nova Scotia hasn't just been a way for Davis to escape Toronto's decrepit public transit system and oppressively muggy summers. It's also been his muse, and his guide, for his latest album, At Home in Nova Scotia - and is he ever. Everything about the album is Bluenose to the core - from the songs that proudly trumpet that ship's presence on the Nova Scotian licence plate, to the photos of abandoned boats along the South Shore in the liner notes. And of course, there are the side players, a virtual who's-who of the local blues cabal - everyone from John Campbelljohn and Matt Minglewood to longtime collaborator Geoff Arsenault and Davis' 18-year-old daughter, Rosie."

Read full article [here]

Sean Ridgeley

Straight outta Lunenburg: musician finds home in Maritimes

... he's settled in Nova Scotia, having just finished his seventh solo record, "At Home In Nova Scotia", fittingly

The final track, "
Bluenose On My License Plate", is anthemic in a country community sort of way, so it works very well that Davis brought on board many guests: Rita McNeil, Lenny Gallant, Bruce Githro, Matt Minglewood, Garrett Mason, Roger Howse, Mary Jane Lamond. The ending gives way to an improv bit with Trailer Park Boys' "Leahy" (John Dunsworth), where they jokingly talk about the song. Dunsworth even offers his pipes! It really rounds out that homey feeling on the record, giving it that extra touch."

Tsunami Relief Event
and Margaretsville Fundy Folk concerts
David O'Leary, Organizer

"...on top of the great voice and guitar work, he had fabulous lyrics. Not the typical blues lyrics of failed romance and cheating spouses, but witty songs about life in rural Nova Scotia and how much he loves living here."

Ottawa Blues Society (OBScene)
by James Doran
PAINKILLER - Morgan Davis

"Painkiller" is Morgan Davis' fourth "CD" and, although I love 'em all, in my opinion this is his best. Whether you are a devoted fan or haven't heard him before, you owe it to yourself to buy this record, pour up your beverage of choice, sit down and listen up!

Morgan's deep resonating voice and true-to-the-roots guitar work make a great combination. Anyone who appreciates straight-up blues delivered with taut, tough intensity and a good dose of humour will love Morgan Davis. Simply stated, for my money, he is one of Canada's best bluesmen.

"Painkiller" features all original songs. Although Morgan usually plays solo, on this album he has assembled a dynamite backline to accompany him - Alec Fraser on bass, Mark Mariash on drums, Rod Phillips on keyboards, Al Lerman on harp and sax, Chris Whiteley on trumpet, with cameos by Al Duffy, Chuck Keeping and Colin Linden - all very talented Toronto musicians with whom Morgan has played over the years. They obviously know his unique style well, as the beautiful interplay between them shows.

I enjoy all of the tunes on this CD, but if I have to choose a few favourites I would list the following: 'Driving the Backroads' - a slow & easy crawler that puts you in the front seat of his van along with all of his friends and blues mentors - Chester Burnett, Hubert Sumlin, Lightnin' Hopkins, Muddy Waters, J.B. Lenoir, Sunnyland Slim, to name a few; 'Waffle House Blues' - a bouncy tribute to roadside greasy spoons; 'Hello, Nova Scotia' (where Morgan now resides) - a lovely flowing song with lyrics that any Canadian living in a rural setting will definitely relate to; 'Getting' Old' - that put a smile on this 50+ year old blues lover ("I use to go on benders, now I wear suspenders!" - what a great line!) and 'She's My Little Radiator' - an upbeat toe-tapper with a barrelhouse feel.

As the wording on the cover graphics of the old snake-oil bottle states - "Pain-Killer is just what its name implies; a killer of pain. It is not a cure-all but is JUST THE THING NEEDED in case of the slight ailments and accidents which occasionally afflict us all".

Thanks for the remedy, Morgan. You deserve to win a Juno with this album.

Toronto Blues Society...

This is not an album of new songs for Morgan but it does put some long-unavailable ones in your CD player and gives you a bonus besides. The chief highlight is the group of five songs from 1982's I'm Ready to Play, never transferred to CD and therefore absolutely necessary for those of you without a turntable. Then there are four songs from 1989's Morgan Davis, the short-lived Stony Plain CD and two songs each from Live at Grossman's and Blues Medicine, the most recent albums. The bonus is a demo recording with Al Lerman of "Buddy Bolden's Blues" from 1996. This music has aged very well indeed: if you haven't heard "Satisfaction Guaranteed" or "Why'd You Lie?" with that horn section, you've got to get this CD. "Why'd You Lie" was the song that Colin James had the hit with... and now the original is here again. He now calls Nova Scotia home but Morgan's tenure here provided me with some of my favourite Hogtown musical memories and maybe that Knights of the Mystic Sea 45 can be on the short list for Volume two of the Hogtown Years! For now, this is available only from Morgan, either from the bandstand or via e-mail from www.morgandavis.com.

Book yours today!


Great Muddy Water-style blues: {5 stars}
I bought this CD after attending a blues guitar workshop with the artist and was thoroughly impressed with his blues guitar mastery. He has had an opportunity to meet and learn some licks from almost all the great blues legends including Muddy Waters. Some of the tracks on this CD are his own originals while others are old blues classics. If you are a fan of blues guitar solos then this CD won't disappoint, particularly if you are a guitarist looking for new licks. Morgan Davis himself is a very genuine, down-to-earth person and this comes through in his music as it should it all good blues. If you are a blues fan (delta blues) then you will definitely not go wrong by taking a chance on this unknown gem.

Ottawa Citizen...

He is undoubtedly one of the the best blues performers working the clubs. Morgan plays and sings the blues with a soulful touch that is without equal. He's the consummate entertainer who knows and understands his material and his guitar.

...actually Colin James and Morgan Davis get along quite well. At his Toronto dates, James tells the audience Davis wrote the hit "Why'd You Lie" and advises them to check out the veteran player. James also covers another of Davis' originals, "A Little Bit Won't Do".

The Globe & Mail Toronto...
From Chicago city blues to New Orleans shuffle, Davis cruised the length and breadth of the continent in blues form, and moved the proceedings along with his customarily smooth stage patter. Like the later singers in the Louisiana-Arkansas Kansas area who went in more for the literary turn of phrase and the snappy lyrics; Morgan's clipped quick delivery is perfect for the idiom..!

Blues Scene Quarterly...
If blues is indeed an incurable condition then Morgan Davis will gladly live out his life with a permanent affliction. He's used to it by now, and he goes about his business with a sense of humour and pride. Heading into his fourth decade in the music business, Davis is an important voice for the music we call the blues. He speaks eloquently and knowledgeably about his influences and the way that a strong sense of independence characterizes both his own career as a well as those who came before him.

The idea of independance is an important foundation in an understanding of the music we call "the blues." It may be through the geographical independance of traveling and life on the road, the cultural independance of freedom from popular trends, the physical independance of "finger tone," or the sense of self that gives different blues players that ability to grace their music with true personality. Independance is what the blues began with and it is what keeps it alive today.

Morgan Davis is a living, breathing and articulately-speaking example of the relationship between blues and independance. Born in Detroit but making Canada his home for over 30 years, Davis is a firm believer in both his preferred form of musical expression as well as the way that the expression emerges from a sense of being true to one's self.

Red Deer Advocate...
Like the slender Mr. Davis himself this is stripped-down lean-sounding blues. The spot-light is squarely on Davis and he's up to it. His guitar is uncluttered, relying on bent notes and choked-off chords for expression rather than lightning runs. His voice has a warm good-natured quality to it and his wry sense of humor and stinging guitar make for rewarding listening.

Whig Standard...
Davis runs a tight little trio where scarcely a note is wasted. The expansive and overly flashy style of some blues players is not for him.

Vancouver Sun...
If Colin James had stayed bluesy and signed with a small roots label like Stony Plain, he'd probably sound like Morgan Davis. Davis is in fact the Toronto blues guitarist who wrote the bluesiest cut on Colin's debut album, "Why'd You Lie".

The mix of blues and soul exhibited on Why'd You Lie gives you a clue as to what Davis is all about. He is a tasteful enough guitarist and a good singer, but his real strength is as a song writer. Roots fans take note.


Back to the TOP