by John Tarpley
Here's a promise: If CeDell Davis is playing here, we're going to write about it. Here's the man in a nutshell: Born in Helena, polio bombed his right hand when he was just a kid; he worked around it by learning to play left-handed slide with a butter knife, which sounded incredible and muddy. Davis spent his 20s playing Delta juke-joints with fellow Helena bluesman Robert Nighthawk. During one of those shows, the boys in blue busted the party, causing a stampede of people to run over Davis and break his legs at the age of 30, leaving him in a wheelchair since. Another Arkansan, Robert Palmer, the Hemingway of music criticism, reinvigorated interest in the bluesman in the early '80s with his essential book "Deep Blues" and, in 1993, produced Davis' heralded return to the album shelves with "Feel Like Doin' Something Wrong." Admittedly, Mr. CeDell has had a rough 83 years. No one's going to confuse him for a spring chicken, but his devil-may-care blues groan can still wow any listener with an appreciation for the surviving sonic relic.