Buskers Blues from the album Ill Disposition
"I think I have a dash of Piedmont style from growing up in the Carolinas," says local slide guitarist, songwriter, and singer Davis Coen, one of the Charleston music scene's most versatile and well-versed bluesmen. "Maybe it's from being close to the water ... it's not so downtrodden as some of the Mississippi blues."
Coen, 30, has been a regular highlight act at the Lowcountry Blues Bash and Piccolo Spoleto's "Early Bird Blues" series. Mostly he plays in clubs as a solo acoustic guitar/vocal/harmonica act, but he'll perform as a trio at the SCBT Beach & Heritage Stage this afternoon with Joey Izzo on drums and brother Trevor Coen on electric bass — both of whom performed on his hot new studio album, Ill Disposition, a solid follow-up to the 2005 disc Can't Get There From Here. Many of the new tunes have been featured on the XM Satellite Radio specialty Bluesville Channel 74 and various regional radio stations.
"At ChazzFest, we'll be doing a bunch of songs off the new album and a few off the two previous discs," he says. "I'll add some upbeat, juke-house, boogie-blues type stuff ... bottleneck guitar boogies and shuffles and whatnot."
Blues fans might expect to hear some of the traditional songs of Elmore James, Robert Johnson, various Mississippi hill country material, and maybe an odd Allan Toussaint tune or two. While singing in a guttural, smoky baritone is part of Coen's trademark, his real specialty is a unleashing fiery licks and slide guitar work (and occasional harmonica) at just the right moments.
"I'm looking forward to playing this festival," he says. "I think we'll do a god job of representin'." —T. Ballard Lesemann