Blues fans will soon have the chance to enjoy a top-notch performance and support a good cause when Juno Award-winning musician Morgan Davis performs in Ladysmith in support of the local food bank.
Davis is a lifelong blues player with 43 years of making music under his belt. Born in Detroit, Davis moved to Toronto in 1968 before settling for good in Nova Scotia in 2000. He’ll be on Vancouver Island in February for a vacation, and before he makes his way back home, he’s donating his time to help raise funds for the Ladysmith Food Bank.
“There has never been a benefit that I’ve turned down,” said Davis. “It’s just part of giving back to people.”
Davis, an accomplished blues musician, has played countless benefit shows over the years, for everything from tsunami relief to old folks’ homes. Though his career is littered with awards and accolades — including the 2004 Juno for Best Blues Album — Davis’ fondest memories are of times he watched, opened for, met and performed alongside musicians whose work he admires.
One of the standout moments of his life occurred when, as a young musician, he had the chance to meet Muddy Waters. The blues legend was just sitting around following a show, said Davis, and friends encouraged him to go up and say hello.
“They said, ‘You should go for it. You could talk to Muddy Waters.’ I was just dumb at 22 and I told him how much I loved his music.”
For more than four decades, Davis has spent much of his time on the road, travelling across Canada, the U.S. and Europe, playing his music wherever he goes. It’s a life he loves and one he intends to lead for as long as he can.
“I’m a pretty lucky guy. I’ve travelled all over the place. I would never have been able do all of this without my music,” said Davis.
In many ways, the blues lends itself to a life on the road, and for Davis, part of blues’ magic is in its gritty, salt-of-the-earth roots.
“It’s real music that reflects real life. It’s not maudlin. It celebrates the ups and downs. Everybody — male, female, white, black — gets the blues sometimes,” he said.
Blues music, he added, is a way to address those tough times without “feeling sorry for yourself.”
For Davis’ Ladysmith show, which takes place Friday, Feb. 21 at In the Beantime Café, audience members can expect to be treated to plenty of traditional blues music. But, said Davis, each show is different and he likes to read the crowd, see what they’re enjoying and choose his music accordingly. As a result, each show is tailored to the specific audience.
Tickets for the Feb. 21 performance are $10 for the show or $25 for the show and dinner. Tickets are available at In the Beantime Café, and all door proceeds will be donated to the Ladysmith Food Bank, which feeds approximately 350 to 400 people each week — 38 per cent of whom are children.
Though the food bank typically takes in plenty of donations over the Christmas season, donations often decline as the weather improves. Co-ordinator Jacquie Stewart said that the benefit concert, which was arranged by Richard Hill of Yellow Point Lodge, came as a huge, welcome surprise.
“We, the food bank, are in awe that [Davis] will donate a performance to us. This is unbelievable,” she said.