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Thursday, Feb. 20, 2014 12:01 am

Eric ‘Guitar’ Davis

A tribute to the bluesman with ties to Springfield

Eric “Guitar” Davis was murdered in December 2013 in his hometown of Chicago.
PHOTO COURTESY kate gardiner via Flickr.com


As our country continues somehow to confuse the constitutional right to bear arms against a tyrannical enemy with an individual right to use weapons when the mood arises for pleasing personal passions, we mourn another loss of life. This senseless, and as yet unsolved murder, took place in the South Side of Chicago on Dec. 19, 2013 and took the life of blues musician Eric “Guitar” Davis, a frequent performer in Springfield.

Our local group of blues supporters the Illinois Central Blues Club hosts a fundraiser on Sunday, Feb. 23 at Donnie’s Homespun from 3 to 7 p.m. to benefit Eric’s wife, Leslie, and their six children. The concert features Eric’s band, The Troublemakers, plus a long list of kind folks eager to lend a hand to support this well loved, highly respected and sorely missed working bluesman. At this time, included on the list of performers are James Armstrong, Craig Wood, Mick Conboy, Jonny Clausing, Brad Hessing, Tom Lewis, Robert Sampson, Michael Wallace, Kirk Lonbom, Monica Morris, Josie Lowder, Susan Williams, Mary Jo Curry, Mike Rapier, Ruth LaMaster, David Lumsden, with others likely to join. The all ages show costs a $7 donation with all the money going to support Eric’s family.

For those of you not familiar with Eric’s work here’s a brief history of a life filled and blessed with music. He started playing drums as a very young boy, following his father, Bobby “Top Hat” Davis, a top-notch drummer who played with greats such as Ray Charles and Muddy Waters. By the time Eric hit 10, he was sitting in around Chicago clubs with local blues bands, which being in Chicago happened to have some of the best local blues musicians in the world. From there the story goes like this: One day he asked “Flash,” a local bass player, how to play bass and the legendary Buddy Guy overheard the conversation. Guy reached behind the bar and grabbed an old axe of his, explained the time-honored maxim that “you need a guitar to get the girls” and proceeded to show the teenager his first blues chords on guitar.

Eric “Guitar” Davis spent the rest of his life learning how to play and entertain, giving his life to making music. He released several records, played all the best Midwest blues clubs and festivals, toured Europe, amassed a worldwide following and even represented our local ICBC at the 2010 International Blues Challenge in Memphis. He was generally considered a shoo-in for a big time break in the business as one of the true branches from the extended blues family tree. At the time of his death he was 41, recently signed to Delmark Records and preparing for a big New Year’s Eve show at Beale on Broadway in St. Louis.

Four other men were shot on the same day as Eric in Chicago, with no noticeable relation to any of the murders. As our society seems determined to head back into a wild west land where shoot’em-ups are okay every day, what can we do but support the families of those murdered and mourn the senseless deaths of those who were taken away before a life was fulfilled, while continuing to fight for reasonable and sensible gun control laws.

In other news, but somewhat related, The Mojo Cats host a “Special Memorial Concert” in memory of Randy DeVillez on Thursday, Feb. 20 at the Alamo from 7 to 11 p.m. The free concert is described by organizers as “a chance to remember the friends, family, artists and people that worked to bring music to others.” Come join in the memorial celebration. Pizza is served from 7:30 to 8:30 p.m.

Contact Tom Irwin at tirwin@illinoistimes.com.


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