The Atlanta Blues Society presented a tremendous free 6-hour blues show at Underground Atlanta yesterday, and my husband and I were among those lucky enough to be there.
Everyone at the show was a seasoned veteran of the local scene. Ross Pead started things out with his engaging country blues, ranging from Mississippi John Hurt to Little Feat with ease and charm. He is the geniuine article and you can hear him most days at Fat Matt’s at noon, and you should. He also was joined onstage for one song by Roblyn Alicia, who did a phenomenal job on “Summertime” with Pead’s able accompaniment.
Then Bill Sheffield took the stage. He is firmly in the singer/songwriter mold, playing guitar and harmonica with style and skill. He played Robert Johnson, Dylan, and was in the middle of Eleanor Rigby by the Beatles when rain suddenly descended, causing an unscheduled break on about thirty minutes while the crew scrambled to protect the equipment and we all sheltered under the overhanging balconies in Kenny’s Alley, which is open to the sky. After our refreshing little shower, Sheffield finished up his set in fine style with “Family Reunion.”
But the real stars of the show came next. The Breeze Kings warmed up the crowd nicely with some great uptempo numbers spiked by Jim Ransome’s great guitar work and Carlos Capote’s smoking harmonica. Then the magic happened: Atlanta’s true blues legends, Eddie Tignor, Sweet Betty, and Tommy Brown, one at a time, joined the Breeze Kings onstage.
Calling themselve the “Seasoned Citizens Review,” these veterans of years of stage performances just took everything to the highest possible levels of blues enjoyment. When Eddie Tignor, formerly of the Ink Spots and veteran of seven decades of music making, played “Route 66” on keyboards and sang it, I thought my soul would split in two and sail away. Then Sweet Betty had the men up on their feet as she sang, “I’m Sweet Betty, and I’m from Georgia too,” “Whiskey in a Dirty Glass,” and more.
Closing out the show, Tommy Brown took the stage. I love Tommy Brown most of all, I admit it. There is nothing objective about blues music, and this is not an objective review. Everybody was awesome. Eddie Tignor and Sweet Betty were beyond awesome. Tommy Brown was supreme. The man just turned 80 years old and not only does he look sharp but he sounds great and man, can that man dance! He’s funny, too. (He did comedy records for a time.) Watching him is just pure joy, and that is all there is to it.
Watching Eddie Tignor, Sweet Betty, and Tommy Brown is not only a pleasure but it should be considered an honor. I certainly feel that way. When you see them perform, you are witnessing years of Atlanta blues history. I, personally, will be grateful in years to come to know I had took this opportunity when it was available to me.
Five stars to the Atlanta Blues Society for sponsoring this incredible show. This sort of show is the main reason I pay those dues every year.
If you were there, consider yourself bleseed.
If not, you can catch Tommy Brown and Sweet Betty regularly at Blind Willie’s, and Eddie Tignor plays most Thursdays at Fat Matt’s and Sundays with Uncle Sugar at Northside Tavern.