Saturday we went up in the North Georgia mountains to a community called Sautee Nagoochee for the Sautee Nagoochee Blues Fest. We were pleasantly surprised to be joined there by seven other members of the Atlanta Blues Society (if I counted right.)
We had a fabulous time at the Sautee Nagoochie Center from start to end, despite the summer storm in the middle which forced us all inside.
It all started with the colorful and talented Feed and Seed Marching Band. They are all volunteer musicians who come together when they can, but after years of practice, they know how to play and how to entertain, with men and women sporting flower or flamingo hats and a wild array of clothing. They were wonderful, and some of their members continued to add sparkle throughout the event by dancing and encouraging others to do so because they were obviously having so much fun.
Next, The Andy Johnson Band took the stage. Many of us had seen Andy as part of Royal Johnson until the death of the other founding member forced the name change. The present band did a bang-up job playing over an hour of blues and Southern rock, including a marvelous version of “Georgia On a Fast Train” that seems permanently stuck in my mind.
Next up was The Kerry Hill Band. It had been some years since we had seen him, and in that time he and the band had gotten even better. They were excellent, in fact.
After they finished their set, the rain started so the whole crowd was bustled into a big white building that had been laid out for basketball but also had a very nice stage. We saw Markey and Ric of The Markey Blue Ric Latina Project. They are dear friends and fantastic entertainers and we were happy to get a chance to talk to them. But in minutes, the stage was set up and it was time for The Squirrelheads. We were really impressed with how prepared and organized the event staff was.
Some people let the storm scare them away, but there were still many hardy “survivors” and we were well-rewarded. We were not familiar with The Squirrelheads but now we are, and we love them! They play New Orleans-style music, and they had the house rockin’!
After their act, it was time for the Markey Blue- Ric Latina Project. The man next to me had never seen them, and it was a delight to see how blown away he was! We were too, of course, but we make a point to see them whenever they are near so we expect it. He was just discovering for the first time how magical they are! They did a mix of old and new songs and as always, Markey was in constant motion and Ric killed it on guitar. The rest of the band were perfect too, including the new keyboardist (new to us, anyway.) Markey told me that she had only had about 3 hours of sleep before they drove from Nashville, but you surely could not tell it onstage.
By this time, I was very tired, but there was no way I was missing Delta Moon. Just hearing Tom Gray’s rusty voice perked me up and listening to him and Mark Johnson spit out that amazing slide and lap steel guitar sound, ably assisted by the rest of the band, made everything worthwhile. We actually stayed to the very end and got to hear some great news from Markey and Ric and speak to Tom and buy a t-shirt from him. We didn’t have a Delta Moon oddly enough, so we remedied that!
It was a wonderful event, and we enjoyed it outside and inside. Kudos to the organizers and staff and all the performers. We loved you all!