The family tree of rock music is traceable all the way back to the early blues artists of the 1930’s through the mid ‘50’s. Musicians such as Muddy Waters, Howlin’ Wolf, John Lee Hooker and Lightnin’ Hopkins were cited by the Beatles and Rolling Stones as being tremendous influences. To this day, guitar players still listen to tracks by the old blues masters to lift riffs and licks.
Derek Davis is a musician from the San Francisco Bay area who is best known for fronting the hard rock band Babylon A.D. in the late 80’s. Since Babylon, Davis has branched out to show his broad musical education on other genres. His latest album is titled Resonator Blues, and any guitarist who knows about the history of their instrument will immediately recognize from the title alone what type of music this record features.
In addition to the vocals, Davis shows his instrumental chops as he did all the guitar and bass tracks on the record. In true early blues tradition, the album is a mixed bag of acoustic and electric songs. Many of the songs (such as the title track) feature Davis’ slide playing. Of the electric songs, Mississippi Mud is a foot stompin’ tune in which Davis sings about the pioneers of the blues, in addition to showing his skill on the bottleneck. Penitentiary Bound is a simple vocals/acoustic guitar that climaxes with Davis’ tortured vocal lament. Jesus Set Me Free takes history way back with lyrics that speak of the experiences of a Civil War-era soldier. Whiskey and Water is more of a current day blues rock song, although Davis nicely throws the listener for a surprise with an acoustic solo over a throaty electric guitar rhythm line.
Davis is clearly a serious student of the blues. Listen to Resonator Blues. Close your eyes, and prepare to be musically transported. Wherever you were, you are now in a hot, sweaty, juke joint on a July Saturday night in rural Mississippi or the Louisiana bayou country…