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Kelsy Davis & the Radical Soul 

"I'm one of them old-school, travelin' blues types," Atlanta's Kelsy Davis says of his music. But there's just as much soul entwined in the gnarly roots from which the self-proclaimed home-grown Southern boy sprang.

Davis – who sounds like a blend of Screamin' Jay Hawkins and Wilson Pickett – says he was moved by the hard-charging soul of Otis Redding, the deliberate delivery of Muddy Waters and John Lee Hooker's country-accented blues. "I don't define it that intensely," he says of his sound. "I have to give credit to where it comes from, but it's also different from its base so I call it radical soul."

Davis radicalized his soul growing up in South Carolina and Atlanta, honed it at Durham's Duke University where he graduated with a double major in English literature and African-American studies, then eventually headed out to L.A. "I can't say that it's really any different than Atlanta, because Atlanta has grown and it has learned how to have some of the same customs as Hollywood," he says.

He returned home to Atlanta after a couple of years. "L.A. can be a little plastic," he cackles. "Sometimes a Southern boy has to come back to his roots."

Davis is a proponent of what he calls "this Atlanta art thing." His latest work-in-progress is narrated through concert, with a live painter creating scenarios from the story as he performs. "A series of songs thrown together is boring, no matter how much you like the music," Davis says. "Everybody always wants to know what's behind the songs. I can give them a sense of that through a story, so that each song is understandable through, and interdependent of, all of the other songs."

But with Davis as the narrator, it won't be a sit-down affair with the audience listening quietly. He's been known to run through the audience shedding articles of clothing, while screaming like James Brown. "I try to be fluent and clear and have some fun widdit," he laughs. "We get wild. I mean, everybody wants to let loose sometimes. Sometimes people feel like screaming, so why not scream in the song?"

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