Guy Davis has given us not just a blues CD with The Adventures of Fishy Waters: In Bed With the Blues, but a real audio play which tells the story of Fishy Waters, a hobo who traveled across the South. Fishy headed for Nashville to become a blues musician in the days before World War II.
Once we are introduced to Fishy, he tells tall tales, sings the blues, and shares stories of his life and the characters he meets on his travels. There is humor in many of the stories, some of which are very similar to ones I heard my own father tell when I was growing up. African-Americans and rural white people in the South shared a lot of common folklore.
After the first half of the disc one, things turn very tragic with “The Lynching,” which is followed by much darker humor. It illustrates how African-Americans often used laughter as a coping mechanism. Disc two tells Fishy’s own story, from learning the blues from his favorite alcoholic uncle, Juno, to leaving home and hitting the road. At first he’s alone, but later he’s with a group of hobos he encounters on the way.
Guy Davis completely inhabits the character of Fishy. However, he also portrays other characters in the story with great skill that was probably inherited from his famous parents, Ruby Dee and Ossie Davis. He is also an accomplished blues guitarist and singer, skillfully weaving his own original music with that of such blues greats as Rev. Gary Davis, Blind Willie McTell, Robert Johnson, and Big Bill Broonzy.
“The task of a story teller, in a dramatic setting, is to include stories that encompass the full range of emotion,” Davis stated in the press release for the CD. The Adventures of Fishy Waters certainly succeeds in this.
Altogether this audio play succeeds in providing a thoughtful, engrossing, and absolutely believable look into life on the road in the Deep South prior to World War II. Words and music fit together beautifully to make Fishy’s character come alive. The CD is a unique creation and well worth the attention of blues lovers and those interested in folklore and history as well.