For 50 years Morgan Davis has been playing the blues, travelling across Canada, the U.S. and Europe. His performances draw from a lifelong study of the rich tradition of country blues, re-interpreting songs of the 1920s and 30s on electric instruments. His original compositions are infused with wit and a good dose of humor.
Originally from Detroit MI, Morgan Davis grew up listening to a rich variety of rhythm and blues, rock and roll, and the emergence of the Motown sound. The music of Jimmy Reed, Ike and Tina Turner, Chuck Berry and Fats Domino was in the air, emanating from car radios and jukeboxes. In 1962 his family relocated to southern California, where Davis found the preponderance of surf music unappealing. He discovered Bob Dylan, whose music introduced him to Woody Guthrie, Leadbelly, Pete Seeger and Blind Lemon Jefferson. The psychedelic era ushered in bands like Jimi Hendrix and Cream, he attended concerts by the Doors, Grateful Dead, Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, Buffalo Springfield, Mothers of Invention and the Electric Flag. Davis began to play guitar at 16 years of age.
Graduating from high school in 1965, Davis enrolled in Long Beach State College, where he became active in the campus anti-war movement as well as SDS. Being of draft age and refusing his 2-S student deferment, he made the choice to remove himself from the U.S. war machine and move to Canada. He settled in Toronto, which he happily found to be a city on the circuit of the great Chicago blues bands, and a rich musical education began by watching Muddy Waters, Howlin’ Wolf, Buddy Guy and Junior Wells. Davis also had the opportunity to see and meet many great country blues players – John Hammond, Son House, Booker White, and Johnny Shines.
After a brief stint teaching junior high school, Davis began his musical career while residing at Rochdale College, Toronto’s high rise mecca for artists . Opportunities to jam with other players were frequent, and Davis happily immersed himself in music until he began to get the occaisional gig, and he soon found himself in a band called the Rhythm Rockets, which played a variety of vintage rock and roll, country and blues. He began touring, eventually forming his own blues band, the Knights of the Mystic Sea.
Over his five decade career Davis has opened the show for Willie Dixon, Albert King, John Hammond, John Lee Hooker and Albert Collins. He has jammed with Muddy Waters, James Cotton and Johnny Shines. He has backed up Sunnyland Slim, Snooky Pryor, Hubert Sumlin, Willie “Big Eyes” Smith and Dr. John.
Davis has released two 45 RPM records, two LPs, and nine CDs. His songwriting talent received wide recognition when Colin James covered his searing ballad, “Why’d You Lie?”
For the past 20 years he has made his home in Lunenburg County, Nova Scotia. Davis performs solo, playing traditional and original blues on electric guitars and his three string cigar-box guitar. Still a road-addicted touring musician, Davis averaged 200 days a year on the road…..until the sudden intrusion of the worldwide Coronavirus pandemic.
…he hopes to be playing the blues until he drops.