It was a great way to spend a Saturday. The scene was Blind Willie’s, one of Atlanta’s best-known and most popular blues clubs.
At 2 pm, Garrett Collins, the youngest performer at 18, and Bennie Mobley, the most mature, started things off by proving that age means little to the blues. Mobley is one of the best harmonica players around. Collins is an accomplished guitarist, and both can handle vocals. Mobley has a sly sense of humor and was definitely the best-dressed man there in his sharp blue suit and white shoes. Collins wore dark colors and a tie. He said Bennie made him and he will never wear one again but if he realizes how good it looked, he may change his mind.
After their excellent set, it was time for The Cazanovas to take the stage. I have been saying that they are the best band in Atlanta for 10 years now and with their current lineup, they’ve just gotten better. Maurice Nazarro on vocals’and harmonica and Danny Vinson on guitar make a great core, and Pete Maier on drums and Harold Patillo are a fantastic rhythm section. But it is the addition of Valerie Waters on keyboards that has added extra energy to the whole group. Every time that woman solos on keys I am as happy as I can possibly be. Together, the band played a mix of original tunes and upbeat classics and did two stellar sets.
Then came a group we did not know, The Clarksdale Regulators/ What a wonderful surprise! It was headed by Mick Kolassa,. We know Mick and consider him a friend. He has another group called The Taylor-Made Blues Band, and both groups include David Dunavent. But this group also includes Heather Crosse on vocals and bass & Lee Andrew Williams, Jr on drums. Mick formed this group to tour with when The Taylor-Made Band’s drummer and bassist are touring with Watermelon Slim.
Since David has a huge voice and Heather’s is smoky and a very welcome addition to this otherwise all-male gathering of musicians. They performed mostly original material. Mick did sing a “bluesified” Beatles song from the excellent album, You Can’t Do That, which he recorded with Mark Telesca. The band also performed a stellar blues version of The Temptations’ “I Can’t Get Next To You.”
It was time, then, for the final act, my personal favorite band in any genre, The Jeff Jensen Band. I had strategically placed my husband and myself at a table right up front just to make sure I got hugs from Jeff Jensen, Bill Riffino and David Green, and I did. (They came to me, I didn’t have to trip them with my cane or anything. )It was like seeing family you really, really love and they put on a perfect first set.
Unfortunately, it was late and we had an hour’s ride home, so we had to leave after the first set.
Even so, the whole day was a dream. Blues Stotts is a yearly event honoring the memory of ABS founding member Larry Stotts. All profits go to the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. Mark your calendars now for next year!