Sunday, October 22nd, Broadway rocked to sounds of "Sweet" Georgia Brown and Georgia’s Express. Backed by Alan Burroughs, guitar, Don Pate, bass, Arthur Green, tenor sax, and Punchy on drums, Georgia brought the Blues to the upper West Side.
Ms. Brown is a force to be reckoned with. Give her a mike, great musicians and an appreciative crowd and the lady will rock. She’s a throwback to what true Blues is all about. The raunchy, gut-bucket, juke-joint-back-in-the-woods type. When she sang "The Thrill Is Gone," you felt a sense of relief the fool was gone. She made it an anthem rather than a prayer. Vibrant and warm she took the chill out of the air. It was cool October day but when Georgia sang the temperature rose perceptibly.
It was appropriate for her to sing on Sunday; she took us all to church. From the first note played by the band, you could hear the blend of gospel and blues. When she began, the streets howled. Give thanks to the Mid-Manhattan branch of the NAACP, for making the day one to remember. The range and power of Ms. Brown was fully evident. She teased, pleased, and enchanted the crowd with her brand of "down home" Blues. No sugar-coating here. Toned down a little for the children in the audience, it still was one of the most dynamic performances she’s done ever. Free from the constraints of small rooms and ordinances to tone it down, she could let loose.
As is her style where there’s space, she came down and greeted the people who came to hear her. Smiling, singing and dancing her way through the crowd Ms. Brown showed her fans how much she cared. Her rendition of "Proud Mary" got them dancing in the streets. The crowd hooted and hollered at her antics and encouraged her to go further. Brown has a stage presence no stage can hold.
She had them in stitches with her own composition, "Spank That Butt, Slap That Booty." Now here’s a song that, once you hear it you want to hear it over and over. It begins with "You hurt me. So I hurt you," leading to a call and response. The crowd couldn’t help but sing along. It’s up-tempo and woman empowering. Thanks be to God for giving us Georgia. She is a force, a power. When she performs it’s magical. She transforms you; let her loose and watch the changes. Feel the power and joy.
Having followed her career over ten years I must say this was the most powerful and explosive performance I’ve seen. Her energy was high and so was the crowd’s. They fed off each other and we were all treated to music at its best.
Blues is a feeling. It’s packed with emotion and some can sing it others can’t. Georgia definitely can. She’s from the old school. Make it real. Make your audience feel it. Even when she does other styles you can hear the blues/gospel influence of this daughter of South Carolina. You know the church and the blues have had a profound impact on her life. If there’s one thing you do before you die it’s see Georgia and Georgia’s Express live.
Alan Burroughs on guitar is a Chicago musician who has been influenced by some of the greats. You listen to him and you know the Blues flows through his veins. He gets into it and won’t let go or it won’t let go of him. Whatever, who really cares. Just let him play. Arthur Green’s sax is sensitive, powerful and soulful. On "Shotgun" he took the audience to a new level playing and singing. He had them cheering for more after every solo. His was a rich and strong performance, playing blues sax with a power not often heard. Drummer, Punchy, just keeps getting better. Driving the music onward, upward, and through us. He’s not overwhelming but you definitely know he’s there. He keeps the songs flowing out to the audience. Punchy just plays. Nothing else to be said. HE PLAYS. Mr. Bass, Don Pate, kept the heavy side going. He gave us music to move us.
This review is copyright © 2001 by Lujira J. Cooper, and Blues On Stage, all rights reserved. Copy, duplication or download prohibited without written permission. For permission to use this review please send an E-mail to Ray Stiles.