Here it is July and .... No North Atlantic Blues Festival. What’s a blues lover to do? Well I’ll tell ya. Thanks to festival organizer Paul Benjamin, KISS-FM will be broadcasting and streaming (kissfm.net) the music of the artists who were booked to play in Harbor Park this year! That’s happening Saturday, July 11 and Sunday, July 12, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Yes. That is this weekend. Bet that timeframe sounds familiar too, doesn’t it?
And here’s another cool tidbit: Paul will be announcing every musician/group and will be playing as many live recordings as he can lay his hands on: Blues Caravan, Thornetta Davis, Gumbo Grits & Gravy, Tullie Brae, Tennessee Redemption, Ana Popovic, Coco Montoya, Jason Ricci, Johnny Rawls and headliner Ronnie Baker Brooks.
And one more cool bit: Paul will be playing the artists during what would have been their time slots during the Festival. And we’re talkin’ full CDs!
And the best cool bit for last: All of these artists have committed to coming to the Festival in 2021.
Now for me this show is all Thornetta Davis and Coco Montoya. Coco played lead guitar for John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers – the second incarnation in the 1980s. I still dig listening to Mayall … I’m hearing “Steppin Out” right now with Eric Clapton … oh baby! ... Anyway, Coco is a phenomenal musician, of the ‘take your breath away’ variety. When his guitar cries ... when his guitar sings ... it mesmerizes.
But, you know, that could be said for quite a few blues guitarists. There’s nothing like live blues. Nothing.
Moving on to Detroit’s Thornetta Davis, Queen of the Blues. This woman’s powerful voice is raw emotion. Thornetta’s version of “Damn Your Eyes” (one of the best songs ever written in my opinion, thank you Steve Bogard and Barbara Wyrick) is my favorite. Etta James covered it first, and she’s another favorite of mine. I was turned on to Etta by Douglas Gimbel a few decades ago, and I love her version, too. Thornetta just gives it that raw emotion, particularly the way she closes the song.
When Thornetta sings “I Believe,” you will dance your way through the hope she sings of “My baby up and left me, did me a favor when he did ... I guess he wasn’t mine anyway so I’m not sorry to see him go ... I believe everything’s gonna be alright now ... I did my crime in the evening, joy won’t come in the morning light ... but I believe everything’s gonna be alright ... keep your head up...”
There’s no way you can’t fall for Thornetta. Never heard her? Then you’ve got to listen this weekend to the 2020 North Atlantic Blues Festival. I sure hope Paul Benjamin plays live Thornetta!
Every blues-R&B artist in this year’s line up is sure to make you move it, shake it, dance it out, feel it ...
Like B.B. King said, “Blues is a tonic for whatever ails you, I could play the blues and not be blue anymore.”
And that’s the magic of the blues.