It was two hours before showtime on Friday night when we arrived at Darwin’s in Sandy Springs to eat and wait for The Jeff Jensen Band. We wee actually covering a convention about 10 minutes away in Atlanta but we never willingly miss Jeff, Bill and David and we knew the convention had the whole rest of the weekend.
A few other people were already there as well, including Atlanta Blues Society President George Klein and his wife Betty, and our friend Kelli. We are all long-time fans and friends of the band. In fact, Jeff Jensen, bassist Bill Ruffino, and drummer David Green are the type of band who tend to turn fans into friends quickly. They wow you with their fantastic musicianship and then charm you with their friendliness and openness, Jeff’s easy way with an audience telling stories and cracking jokes between songs, also quickly disarms an audience.
This night, we are conversing and enjoying our food and drink when Jeff walks in. “Jeff’s here Each of us women get warm hugs from Jeff, Bill and David and they greet the men happily as well.They seem as glad to see us as we are to see them. They have a chance to look around the new Darwin’s and give it and the new stage their approval. Then they disappear to do their pre-show thing and the place starts filling up. By showtime it’s a full house.
The show starts with one of the few songs in the set that Jeff did not write, “Little Red Rooster.” That wakes everyone up and reminds us this is a tremendous live band The crowd favorites just keep coming as the band play songs from throughout Jeff’s career: “Make It Through,” “Empty Bottles,” “Can’t Believe We’re Through,” and so many more.
The thing the songs all have in common is the brilliance of this band. Jeff is, of course an incredible guitarist, just mind-blowing, and an amazing, expressive vocalist. He and Bill have been together a long time, and it is hard to imagine one without the other. What a great team they are! And David was already well-known around Atlanta before he joined Jeff and Bill. He fits perfectly, and when he unleashes his drum solo, doing spectacular things with drums and cymbals and making i look so easy, smiling that smile that lights the whole place, he just wows everyone.
They played about an hour and a half before the break, and usually that is when I’m exhausted and we leave. But this time, neither of us wanted to go. We ended up staying until around 12:30, and everything was still going strong.
This band has raised the bar very high in the many performances we have seen over the past three years, but they keep surpassing themselves, every time. This may have been the best one yet, until the next one.
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