The pick hit the guitar strings, and Debbie Davis’ Fender Stratocaster wailed over the bass-and-drums rhythm. The notes flew out into the audience and crashed, then splintered, against the back wall of the Parting Glass.
Davis is an electric guitar blues virtuoso, no doubt, and on that chilly Friday night she shredded the blues by way of her spiritual mentors: Robert Johnson, B.B. King, Stevie Ray Vaughn and, of course, Albert Collins, who brought her into his band for a stint way back when.
The lady can play the hell out of her axe, and she can sing, too. Her mastery on the instrument can send many a wannabe blues guitarist back to the woodshed. She’s that good!
And she’s paid her dues by way of hundreds of dates across the country and beyond. Some in the small audience last week remembered her first area appearance in the early ’90s at the old Metro in Saratoga Springs, where she opened fire with her guitar and killed each and every song.
Did I mention she’s that good?
In the male-dominated world of electric blues guitarists, Davis’ name is in the select company of a very few. Sue Foley, Ellen McIlwaine and Bonnie Raitt are perhaps better known, but not better. Davis, like them, is the real deal.
At the Parting Glass, Davis’ solos filled the room with an array of dynamic and emotional solos as she rode atop the exacting, pumped-up rhythm of electric bassist Matt Linsey and rock-steady drummer Don Castacno. In tandem, these two brilliant savants of their instruments became a well-oiled rhythm machine, churning each synchronized note with the precision of a Detroit-built V-8 engine.
The songs played were a retrospective from Davis’ dozen albums released over the past 18-plus years, including her latest, “Holding Court,” on the Little Dipper label.
Those in the crowd were treated to a magnificent two sets of the very best of Debbie Davis, but it’s a shame that more people didn’t come out to support her and hear the best blues music played in a long while.
Review and photographs by Andrzej Pilarczyk