Welcome to the February 2008 issue of The Kitchen Musician, my folk music newsletter, featuring How Happy I Am, a classic Reverend Gary Davis song to which I put new words.
Fortunately, as you can see in this photo, I will not be demonstrating how to play Guitar Hero at my shows in March.
March 11, Tuesday, 8:00 pm – 9:00 pm at Sweet Bites Bakery & Cafe, 5A Spruce St. West Acton, MA. My 30 minute set will start about 8:00 pm. The co-feature performer is the very talented blues musician, Lloyd Thayer. (open mikers start about 6:30 pm). Admission is $5 plus “pass the hat” for the feature performer. Click for directions.
March 24, Monday, 9:00 pm – 9:30 pm. I am the feature performer at the Center for the Arts at Natick. Doors open at 7:30 for those of you would like to sign up to sing a song or two. My 30 minute set will start about 9:00 pm. Admission $5 plus “pass the hat” for the feature performer. Click for directions.
My composition Gunplay Theme will be published as the theme music for the upcoming Gunplay graphic novel, created by Jorge Vega and published by Platinum Studios. Gunplay is the winner of this year’s Comic Book Challenge. More of my original music is also used in readings of the Gunplay Penny Dreadfuls, based upon Jorge Vega’s graphic novel and written by Christopher Priest. A “penny dreadful” is another way of saying “dime store novel”. You can hear my music on the Gunplay Web Site, when it is launched in March or April. Or get a sneak peak below:
Gunplay Theme Sample (Click to play audio)
“Gunplay is the haunting, bullet riddled tale of a Buffalo Soldier condemned to roam the Big Empty with a hellish curse slung at his waist â€” a demonic shooting iron that forces Abner to kill once a day or suffer soul searing pain. His only salvation lies in earning the trust of a boy he’s never met, a boy with an agonizing secret of his own — and Abner has just gunned down that boy’s father.” – Platinum Studios
Please note: Gunplay is for mature audiences. Not for young children.
This release has inspired me to launch an online store, brought to you by the Shameless Commerce Division of TomSmithMusic.com. I am anticipating, er… tens of dollars added to my coffers. Hey don’t scoff, that is a couple sets of guitar strings. Buy now!
This Month’s Song
How Happy I Am
Words © 2008, Tom Smith
Reverend Gary Davis in a Brooklyn, NY grocery store.
Photo: by John Cohen, circa 1954.
Last month I was suffering a little post-Christmas anxiety, finding it difficult to stop my head buzzing long enough to get a full night’s sleep. I found myself playing guitar at 6:00 a.m., picking Reverend Gary Davis’ classic gospel blues song “Oh Glory, How Happy I Am”. I have always loved playing this as a guitar piece but rarely sang the verses. As a recovering Catholic, I stumble over the line in the chorus that goes “Oh glory how happy I am. My soul’s been washed in the blood of the lamb.” But this particular morning the reverend seemed to visit me, and I was moved to write some verses designed to bring me out of my slump. Perhaps it is a sacrilege to write new words to a song written by a genius, but it worked! Thank you, Gary.
Rev. Gary Davis Sample (Click to play audio)
Reverend Gary Davis (1896-1972) was a blind singer and guitarist who played ragtime blues in his early days. In the 1930’s he switched from the music of street corners and gin joints to religious music, but continued to wrap his songs in those wonderful ragtime blues blankets. He was ordained a Baptist minister in 1933. In 1940 he made New York City his home, where his great finger picking style influenced many aspiring guitarists, some of whom became famous folk, blues and rock musicians (and one who is famous only in his own kitchen.)
Reverend Gary Davis singing “Gloy Halleloo”
Recorded on Pete Seeger’s show “Rainbow Quest”
He gets all of that great music with just his thumb and index finger. Most of us need three or four fingers to approximate what he does with two.
I hope to see you at Sweet Bites in Acton or The Center for the Arts in Natick in March.
Wishing you peace and music,