David Bryant Creates Beauty in Music and Art
David Bryant’s roots in the blues run deep. His grandfather, Curley Weaver, was a widely appreciated Piedmont-style blues guitarist who did his first recordings for Columbia Records in 1928. His mother, Cora Mae Bryant, was a longtime partner artist with Music Maker. She had learned how to play the blues at the feet of her father and with legendary bluesmen like Blind Willie McTell and Buddy Moss, who lived nearby her home in Oxford, Georgia.
David lived with and cared for his mother until her death in 2008 when he was 49. David is a Buddha-like figure. Every morning, he sweeps his dirt yard with a straw broom, creating elaborate patterns that look as if they came from a Japanese Zen garden. On the inside, his home is decorated like a museum.
As a visual artist, David creates intricate and beautiful collages of beads and buttons, and he doesn’t use just any old trinkets he finds. His materials come from people he knew who have passed away, and his work helps to keep their spirits alive.
As a musician, David has an intricate system of turning various guitars into different open tunings. Watching him play, his fingering might look simple, but to duplicate his sound would be almost impossible for other players. He plays a pure and heartfelt blues. His genius lies in the way he propels a song forward.
Take a look at many of the most revered guitar players and you will see them play complicated licks. It is as if their music says, “Look at me. I’m the greatest.”
But look at David Bryant, and he’s simply thumping on his guitar, relying on his tunings to create distinct sounds. He plays to express the message of a song, to create joy in the room.
David Bryant was born on April 1, 1959.
Top photo by Tim Duffy.