Gumbo, Grits & Gravy
Guy Davis, Anne Harris, and Marcella Simien
GUMBO, GRITS & GRAVY is a ‘gathering’, featuring three brilliant musicians with culturally and musically diverse backgrounds. As the name implies, Gumbo, Grits & Gravy is grounded in the roots of a hearty, home-cooked meal, the foundation of family and tradition, which is more often guided by maternal inspirations. Through this understanding, it is a celebration of a musical and cultural diversity that this trio hopes to document and spread to the world in 2019 and beyond.
The genesis of this project comes from a tour under the same banner headline that briefly toured many years ago. It featured Guy Davis, Laurie Lewis, and Christina Balfa, assembled by former agent/manager Cash Edwards. The inspiration for it today comes from ensemble groups like the Carolina Chocolate Drops, only with a little more contemporary flair. So fill your soul with flavors of this musical stew!
Guy Davis: The Routes of Americana
Guy Davis has spent his musical life carrying his message and music around the world, from the Equator to the Arctic Circle, from the Plains of Kansas to the tundra of Siberia. His work as a singer, musician, actor, writer, and music teacher have earmarked him as a renaissance man of the Arts.
What music and acting have in common, he explains, “is that I don’t like people to see the hard work and the sweat that goes into what I do. I want them to hear me and be uplifted.”
Davis’ much-praised 1995 debut, Stomp Down the Rider, on the legendary singer-songwriter label, Red House Records, marked the arrival of a major talent, earning acclaim for his deft acoustic playing, his well-traveled voice and his literate yet highly accessible songwriting. He’s barely rested since then, taking his music to television (The Conan O’Brien and David Letterman shows) and radio (Mountain Stage, World Cafe, E-Town, Woodsongs), as well as performing at theaters and festivals around the globe. He played the Ukraine in summer of 2014, just a week or so before the statues of Lenin were torn down. He even played for the visiting Queen of Denmark when he performed at a children’s home in Greenland. “I feel like I’ve only hit three corners of the world, with a lot more to go,” Davis says.
Truth be told, there just aren’t many who can deliver Americana in as interesting and entertaining a manner – or give acoustic traditional blues such a contemporary sound – as Davis, and it sure is a lot of fun hearing him explore the different sides of the genre. ~ The Blues PowR Blog
Davis somehow makes the term multi-talented seem woefully inadequate. ~ Jim Musser He has got a voice like Howlin’ Wolf dipped in honey. He is also an enchanting storyteller, able to deliver a shaggy-dog story while barking and simultaneously making train noises on a harmonica – a reminder of a time when the phrase “novelty song” didn’t necessarily have music-lovers running for the exits. He utilised ye olde food/sex metaphor in “Home Cooked Meal” and made it sound dirtier than you would have thought possible. He is fabulous. ~ The Scotsman
Anne Harris: Musical Diamond
Roots Music is an expressive art form, and nowhere can you find a more expressive musician than the mystic violinist Anne Harris. Rolling, blending and folding in a variety of musical influences from Celtic to Americana to Funk, she embodies a musical genre-morphing sound that is all her own. Anne is an internationally recognized instrumental talent that has captivated audiences around the globe. Her command of the stage is punctuated with a free reeling and coiling whirlwind of sound and visual excitement. Her gypsy-like stage presence is truly unforgettable and revolutionary in the ever expanding musical world that surrounds her.
The beauty of Anne’s ability to play the violin while dancing as gracefully as a swan and as powerfully as a shaman, moved me to joyful tears. Bearing witness to her performance left me completely awestruck and mesmerized. At times, she moves with a gentle ease, and then with sudden and wild abandon. Surely, it follows suit that she has had extensive training, but it appears to just spring naturally from her solar plexus. To watch her perform is hypnotizing. It was pretty much all I could talk about for several days. ~ By Julie Jenkins
Anne Harris plays violin like Buddy Guy wields his guitar. ~ By Robert Kinsler
Marcella René Simien: Swamp Soul Songstress
Wielding the torch of a veritable Creole dynasty, being born into one of the first Creole families to settle in St. Landry Parish, Marcella has now planted the seeds of her South Louisiana heritage deep into the bluffs of Memphis, TN — no small victory for a young woman just now rounding out her mid-20s.
Simien is a natural in the truest sense. Daughter of two-time GRAMMY award winning Zydeco luminary Terrance Simien, she was practically born onstage, and grew up thoroughly immersed in sound and performance. Yet, despite her almost fairytale-like upbringing, Marcella makes it her mission to forge her own pathways in the music business. A graduate of the prestigious Memphis College of Art, Simien boldly follows her heart. Her music is a dueling hybrid of classic Memphis soul and the freewheeling swagger of New Orleans funk, woven together with the sighing laughter of her ancestors: that Creole accordion. As outspoken and courageous as she is sensual and feminine, Simien holds a wisdom far beyond her years. With each honeyed undertone, every saintly holler, with each tinkle of the keys, and every pump of the squeezebox, she reinvents the mold and soldiers against boundaries, yet she never fairs to respect tradition.
Simien is one of the most soulful artists I’ve heard since the ‘glory days’ of Memphis soul music. Her sound and stage presence are constant reminders that soul music is still alive and well. ~ Lawrence “Boo” Mitchell
Marcella Simien heard it all as a youngster, no doubt, and once she doubled-down with the Memphis sound, she found a totally striking new attack on Southern Soul. ~ Bill Bentley