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Canberra the backdrop in Gary Davis documentary from Woody Mann

It is a safe bet to say Canberra was not the birth place of blues, gospel and ragtime - but this weekend it is the international launch pad for a movie praising one of that music's greatest ambassadors.

The late Reverend Gary Davis is the subject of a brilliant new documentary produced by American guitar virtuoso Woody Mann.

Mann is a headline act at the National Folk Festival and in addition to performing concerts and presenting workshops, he chose the Easter long weekend event to unleash his movie on the world.

A special screening of Harlem Street Singer, the Reverend Gary Davis Story, was enthusiastically attended and well received by festival goers.

"That was such a good show," said Bungendore's Joe Swartz after watching the premiere.
"That alone was worth coming to the festival for."

"Woody Mann is worth coming to the festival for, but you get him and you get Gary Davis in one package," said Canberra's Bruce Blake.

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Another punter emerging from the screening simply stated: "Woody Mann is the man."

Mann himself explained that it took him six years to make the documentary. The task was made more difficult by the fact there is so much not known about Davis, the blind roots singer who played a mean guitar.

Woody Mann
Woody Mann Photo: Supplied

"There is a period of about 15 years that we knew nothing about Reverend Davis," Mann said.

"I was lucky enough to have learned guitar from him, but that was during the last seven or eight years of his life.

"He is now a national icon in America, but he was also in some regards very unknown."