Remembering A Rising Blues Talent From Chicago’s Southside<.h3>
Met my very talented friend, Eric “Guitar” Davis, tearing it up at The Beale On Broadway. Fortunately his path to being a regular act in St. Louis at the Beale and the Big Muddy Music Festival, involved me.
Eric was to play a show in Centralia, IL at a bar called the Poplar Place. The producer of the show asked if I’d promote Eric and attend as the Emcee. As the host of a weekend classic rock and roll radio show on WDLJ 97.5 FM, (Carlyle, IL), I was in a unique position to lend a hand.
I had recently introduced an hour of blues music to my five hour Sunday night radio show. My intention was to help the listeners understand the soul of the music they loved. The idea came to me one day when I was playing my usual deeper cuts of album-oriented rock and roll. It started with comparing two versions of “Big Jet Airliner”, the original version as found on Paul Pena’s “New Train” album, versus the version Steve Miller made famous. It just so happens that Paul Pena was my Mother’s cousin. Paul also taught me my first song on a guitar while he was visiting Spain to learn flamenco.
On that show, Eric rocked two blues songs on an acoustic guitar. During some down time while the music was playing, Eric asked me where the best place in St. Louis is to scope out the blues. I pointed him to the stretch of South Broadway, a few blocks from Busch Stadium.
There I told him, he’d find three great venues, The Beale On Broadway, BB’s Jazz, Blues, and Soup, and The Broadway Oyster Club were. That block of South Broadway was “blues heaven” in St. Louis! Three awesome live music venues on one block, all within a few hundred yards of each other. That block generally featured Blues music seven nights a week! What more could you ask for? Cold 24 oz PBRs for $4!
Eric was from South Chicago. A drummer like his father, Bobby “Top Hat” Davis. As Eric told me the story, one day Bobby Blue Bland, handed him a guitar and said, “if he wanted to girls, learn to play the guitar”.
Eric often sat down behind the drums at his shows, but he rocked his guitars.
Over the years I took a lot of video and probably thousands of photos of Eric and his band playing at The Beale and other venues. I also created and maintained his website and Youtube page.
Sadly, a random, senseless act of brutality ended Eric’s life. Early in the morning on December 19th, 2013, while sitting in his car on a street in Chicago, he was fatally shot by a couple of losers. They same two punks killed another person, a retired deacon a few minutes earlier.
He was one cool cat!
The Beale is closed as well.