by Mark E. Gallo
Review date: June 2003
"Keeping the Blues Alive Award"|
Achievement for Blues on the Internet
Presented by The Blues Foundation
Alberta Adams has been a mainstay of the Detroit blues scene for better than half a century. The rest of the world didn't really get hip to her until "Born With the Blues" was released on Cannonball in 1999. "Say Baby Say," the 2000 follow-up, was just as enthusiastically received and this 80-something Handy-nominated firebrand has been scorching the blues festivals trail since. On this live set, recorded in two distinctly different settings, Detroit's Queen of the Blues proves decisively that she can still shake it on down. For the folks at the Salmon Arm Roots & Blues Festival, in Salmon Arm, British Columbia, Alberta offers superb renditions of Jimmy Reed's "Peepin' and Hidin'" and the bawdy classic "He May Be Your Man (But He Comes to See Me Sometimes)," giving the Canadian audience a taster of real classic Detroit blues. Back home, the folks lucky enough to catch the set at the First Baptist Church in Birmingham, MI in April 2002 were also reminded of the power of Detroit blues in general and Ms. Alberta in particular. Accompanied by drummer/manager/bandleader and fellow Handy nominee R.J. Spangler, guitarist Paul Carey, Shawn McDonald at the piano and Tim Marks on bass (Dale Jennings played bass on the Canadian dates), Adams supplies more chops and soul than a trainload of so-called "divas" and American Idols.
On Lowell Fulson's "Reconsider Baby," she offers a heartfelt tribute to John Lee Hooker, one of Alberta's contemporaries and cronies from back in the day. She sings her heart out on "Going Home Tomorrow," a medium tempo Little Richard tune that benefits from Paul Carey's guitar work and Shawn McDonald's sparkling piano, and on her own "Little Boy," she reminds the listener of how long she's actually been at this. The 1950s Ruth Brown tune was probably based on Alberta's tune, given that Brown acknowledges a debt of musical gratitude to Alberta in Spangler's liners. Alberta's "Born With the Blues," with the band kicking it into high gear, and McDonald boogie-ing it up, is a smokin' closer.
R.J. Spangler recently announced that Alberta has signed to Southern Florida-based Blue Angel with an anticipated August release. Unquestionably, it will be a gas, but it's going to have to go some to out-do this extraordinary set. Contact Eastlawn at PO Box 36487, Grosse Pointe Farms, MI 48236. This one is destined to be a collectors item.
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