Colemine Records Shines A Light On Fred Davis And His ‘Cleveland Blues’

Colemine Records has announced that they’ll be releasing Fred Davis’ album Cleveland Blues on Record Store Day, April 22nd, 2023. Davis is largely unknown to the wider world but Colemine would like to spread the word about this highly skilled Bluesman whose tragic end contributed to his anonymity today. The single “Tell Me Pretty Baby” has been revealed as a preview.

A letter from Eli “Paperboy” Reed:

“Fred Davis was a legend, but only in my living room. My Dad told me about him. He could play like T-Bone Walker and sang in a high, keen voice like J.B. Lenoir. In the summer of 1969, while the Cuyahoga river fire burned, he worked alongside my Dad at Harco, the Cleveland factory where my grandfather was an executive. They became friends, bonding over the Bobby Bland records blaring from the AM radio on the factory floor.  

Fred taught my Dad the rudiments of blues guitar, but his style. Fred could play up and down the neck and, even when he played and sang just by himself, he sounded like a full band. Or, at least, so the legend went. These were only foggy memories from thirty years previous, passed down from a father to a son. 

But then we found the tape, a quarter inch reel in a plain white cardboard box. Recordings of Fred that my Dad had made in my grandparents living room more than 50 years ago. The idea was that maybe if there were some recordings of Fred that he could use them to get booked on the nascent college blues-revival circuit, but it wasn’t to be. My Dad went on to college in Boston and Fred stayed in Cleveland, fronting his own band ‘Dave & The Blues Express’ until he met a tragic end: Shot and killed during a stickup at liquor store. If it weren’t for the tape, Fred ‘Dave’ Davis might be forgotten, but with its release, the legend can finally go behind the confines of my living room and, with any luck, to the whole world.”

– Eli “Paperboy” Reed, Fall 2022

(Fred “Dave” Davis – far left)
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