Photos By Rhetta and Sandra Richardson
Saturday, Nov. 12. was the 2nd Annual Blues Stotts Festival, sponsored by The Atlanta Blues Society and honoring the memory of long-time Atlanta Blues Society member Larry Stotts. It took place at Blind Willie’s in Atlanta and began at 2 pm. I don’t know when it ended, because we had to leave at 7:30 for another event, but when we left Markey Blue still had another set to play and then there was Brandon Santini and a jam I hear was amazing so it was very very late.
The festival featured a couple of excellent local youth acts, No Solution and Jontavious Willis, the very popular Larry Griffith Band, and the above-mentioned visiting artists Markey Blue and Brandon Santini.
No Solution is made up of four high school students who were chosen by The Atlanta Blues Society to go to the International Blues Challenge in Memphis earlier in 2016 to be showcased there with other youth groups from around the world. They are awesome far beyond their years.
Jontavious Willis is an old soul in a 20-year-old body. He sings and plays traditional blues, sounding much like BB King and the other famous bluesmen of his era probably sounded when they began. He says he wants to keep people from forgetting this type of blues and he is doing a great job of either reminding them or introducing them to this great American blues form.
The Larry Griffith Band are Atlanta favorites. Griffith has a charming onstage persona and is a gifted singer and songwriter. He had a regular party going on up front with people all dancing together in a circle. The “dance floor” at Blind Willie’s, like at most blues clubs in the area, is a very small space between the tables and the stage. I was so close I expected to get a lap dance any moment!
Following the Larry Griffith Band was one of our favorite acts, Markey Blue out of Nashville, TN. Led by guitar wizard Ric Latina and the effervescent ever-moving Markey, this band also features pros on bass, drums and keyboards who have played with a variety of famous people including Tammy Wynette and Quiet Riot among them. Their show is high-energy and just watching Markey can leave you exhausted but happy.
We had to leave before Brandon Santini, but from the other times we have seen him and what we heard about the performance, we can confidently report that he was amazing. And only imagine what that jam was like!
Blues Stotts is expected to be an annual event for years to come, always in November. Plan to attend in 2017. It is a heck of a party!