First off a big thank you again to the town of Port Royal, South Carolina and The Arts Council of Beaufort County for bringing the blues to the streets of Port Royal another fine, fine show.
This week it was the opportunity to see Ms. Lauren Mitchell and her band from Sarasota FL. I had met Lauren last year at Jack Sullivan‘s place in Bradenton, and then saw her perform at this years’ International Blues Challenge. So when we learned she was gonna be a mere 30 minute drive from us we headed northeast to see her show.
It’s always interesting when you go to a music event that is not strictly a blues audience. A great mix of people but they were not hardcore Blues fans, just folks looking for good music. You never know what to expect from them. Well if these folks were any indicator of the future of the blues, then we be thriving.
Right from the start Ms. Mitchell grabbed them by the collar and sang her way into their lives. First song she was in the crowd telling one very fortunate man just what she was gonna do, and when she was gonna do it. That did it for the entire crowd; they were 100% behind and with her.
Ms. Mitchell has a commanding stage presence, and she uses it to make everyone comfortable and engaged. She worked her way through several of her originals while peppering in standards and covers that kept the ‘uninitiated’ blues fans in the groove. It was great to hear Lauren speak of her childhood and the music she listened to, and her view on ‘paying homage and tribute’ to those that went before and how she was blessed to be able to sing these songs for a new audience. That is one of the endearing factors of the Blues, honoring those who went before and keeping them alive thru the artists’ version of their music.
As mentioned earlier Ms. Mitchell is a commanding performer. But that alone doesn’t make anyone able to put on a great show. Her vocal range and abilities pushed her into that realm. She can ‘bad girl’ it with the best of them, and she can ‘pussycat moan and purr’ too. Her original songs are true to her heart and therefore resound with the audience, anything less would have fallen short.
She does not put on a show without support from her band. Accomplished musicians each of them - they supported Lauren, and were more than capable of the taking lead when called upon. There was an electric camaraderie between her and her guitar player ‘Howlin’ Bob Fieberts, as they worked off of each other’s energy and at one point bringing her to her knees. Her B-3 and bass man ‘The Professor’ Michael Hensley was exceptional, and was subject to constant applause and shout outs from the audience. The newest member of the band, drummer Willie Miller kept the beat and flourished when needed, to fill out the sound.
I was thrilled to have been part of this event; hopefully it will lead to many more out of state gigs for Lauren and her band. As I spoke with many of the attendees, they were amazed at her ability and surprised that they had not heard of her. Lauren has a new CD out “LIVE at the Bradfordville Blues Club”. Get it and hear what you will be seeing in the future, I believe this lady has the ‘it’ to go very far in the Blues.
~ Chefjimi Patricola, Blues411.com