Guy Davis is deeply rooted in the blues, but has covered Bob Dylan songs from time to time, including “Sweetheart Like You” on the 2001 compilation A Nod to Bob: An Artists’ Tribute to Bob Dylan on His Sixtieth Birthday, and “Lay Lady Lay,” on his 2015 album, Kokomo Kidd.
Over the course of his career, Davis says, “I decided that I’m no longer limited by any genre. I’m just going to take it all and do what I want, basically. And Bob has that kind of freedom, somehow, as a composer and a writer. I respect him so much, because he gave himself the freedom to combine words that people had never combined before, and do harmonies that were anything but standard. So I think that freedom is what most influences me about Bob.”
Davis will join Lucy Kaplansky — who sang “It Ain’t Me, Babe” on A Nod to Bob — as well as Rod MacDonald and the duo, The Kennedys, at “Million Dollar Bash: Bob Dylan’s 75th Birthday Celebration,” a concert at the Outpost in the Burbs in Montclair, March 5 at 8 p.m. (Dylan won’t actually turn 75 until May 24, by the way). For information, visit outpostintheburbs.org.
Dylan isn’t just somebody who has influenced other musicians, Davis says.
“He’s one of the primary influences to the world,” he says, and illustrates this with a anecdote from a recent overseas tour.
“His songs are so accessible and so well known around the world,” says Davis, “that when I was in Greenland recently, way up in one of the native population outposts, I guess they call it, up above the Arctic Circle, I was singing ‘Knocking on Heaven’s Door,’ and people knew the words. It’s the fact of Dylan’s popularity that made it easy for me to do that.
“In that respect, Bob Dylan is not unlike Pete Seeger, who spread really good music around the world. Of course, Pete collected folk songs from everywhere and sang them, and wrote some of his own. Bob Dylan has mostly written his own.”
Here are videos of all four of the show’s artists performing Dylan songs:
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