Swinging seamlessly from old-time-blues to rock, gospel and a smattering of soul, Shemekia Copeland tied her set together with confident and charming patter which ranged from serious thoughts in her head to the trendy shoes on her feet.
Drawing heavily from her latest CD Never Going Back, Copeland delivered Buddy and Julie Miller (“Dirty Water”), Paul Thorn’s “Rise Up” and her father Johnny Copeland’s “Circumstances” with equal authority. Still, my favorite of the night remains “Never Going back to Memphis,” a well-crafted rockin’ blues tune about a good woman and a bad man which incorporates lyrics like “He kept a .45 in a Crown Royal bag/Wiped the fingerprints off, handed me the rag.” Priceless.
Devon Allman’s Honeytribe upped the pace a few notches with rockin’ blues, R&B and rockin’ soul in a well-paced set which lasted long into the night. He plays excellent, gutsy guitar, but Allman’s vocals really stand out. His voice shifts effortlessly from a gruff bluesy shout to a full-throated soulful wail, then down to a clear whisper without sounding contrived. Bassist George Potsos may think he’s on guitar, because that’s the way he plays: fast, furious and tunefully. At one point he was left alone onstage to solo a Jimi Hendrix tune and nailed it. Drummer Gabriel Strange has the best touch I’ve heard in years: imaginative and varied, capturing the audience’s attention with creativity rather than volume.
Honeytribe interspersed a number Allman’s own works like the aching ballad “Warm in the Wintertime” with a few classics, including “Stand By Me” and Stevie Wonder’s “Sir Duke.” All told, a justifiable reason to stay up very late on a school night.
Photos by Arnie Goodman