November 18, 2006

 

Georgia Songbird - a review

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EG Kight at Music on the Square in LaFayette, Georgia
Saturday, November 11, 2006


Although it’s not possible to have a performance at this small café that is not intimate, EG Kight, an irrepressible and inspired woman of the blues, seems particularly adept to bringing warmth to her act with an audience at arm’s length. “I love little places like this,” she told me after the show. “I can be up close with the people.”

She exemplified that at her performance this night, as there didn't seem to be any strangers in the place. She called the older women “mama” and the young men (and me) “sugar.” She requested a pair of shades to wear for her gritty blues numbers, and when fans called out requests she obliged them often. At one point she put forth the claim that “you can write a song about anything,” and proceeded to prove it by requesting a topic from the audience and quickly putting together a few bars about it (it was either toothpaste or no-good men, I can’t clearly recall). In short, up on the stage EG Kight is comfortable, and marvelous.

EG hails from Dublin, Georgia, which is down “below the gnat line,” a reference to the prevalence of tiny bugs whose purpose in their short lifespan seems to be flying kamikaze into your eyeballs. South Georgians often tell tales of small animals being carried away by gnats, but I digress. She grew up on a farm and still lives on land once owned by her great granddaddy. She is low country to the bone, but her musical talent has also made her a woman of the world. She recently returned from a film festival in Torino, Italy, where between films she performed and lectured a bit. She said that American blues music is very popular over there, and music students just eat up the likes of Bessie Smith and Ella Fitzgerald. “Of course music is the universal language,” she said, “and no more so than with the blues - they love how you can hear it and feel it all in one.” To celebrate her experience she sang the old Dean Martin standard “Return To Me”, complete with a few verses in Italian.

Like many little girls in the south who grew up in musical families, EG cut her teeth on gospel, first performing in church at the age of four. She grew up into her teens performing country music, but relates how she had a “blues epiphany” of sorts when she first heard Koko Taylor. From that point in the mid-1990s her career shifted into having “blues as the backbone,” and has come into her own with a versatile voice that can range from a mournful yet sweet torch song melody to belting out blues gravel. She backs that up on her guitar with confident hands and a joyful demeanor as she moves them.

She performed two solo acoustic sets, nearly 30 songs in all, with a varied set list that included standards like “Stardust”, “Stormy Weather”, and “At Last” to blues classics like Koko Taylor’s “I Cried Like A Baby”, “Stormy Monday”, and “Mama He Treats Your Daughter Mean”. EG’s cover of the latter, a hit for R & B songstress Ruth Brown in the early sixties, was recorded live in August 2005 for her most recent album, the solo acoustic “EG Kight (live &) Naked”. The song held the No. 1 spot on XM Radio’s blues channel for several weeks. She also threw in a good bit of country, with a sweet rendering of Merle Haggard’s “Silver Wings”, and laid down Johnny Cash’s “Folsom Prison Blues” with grit so true it was not necessary to suspend disbelief of it being sung by a woman. Another cover tune that was one of the highlights of the night for me was her sweet and soulful rendition of John Prine's “Angel From Montgomery”, a tune that, as was the case here, often moistens the edges of my eyes.

As a performer EG Kight also plays electric guitar with her band, and she has shared the stage with the likes of such a diverse bunch of musicians as George Jones, Taj Mahal, Delbert McClinton, Jerry Lee Lewis, Merle Haggard and Little Feat. As a songwriter she has built up a repertoire of several albums and honors to go with them. Highlights of her songs from the show at Music on the Square, which was professionally video recorded, included “attitude” songs like “Trouble With A Capital ‘T’”, an up beat blues shuffle with plenty of down and dirty gravel in her voice, and “Is It Me Or Is It Hot In Here?”
My favorite of her slow blues tunes was “Southern Comfort”, the title song from her 2003 release on Blue South Records, in which she tells her man that he don’t need no bottle, ‘cuz she’s like Southern Comfort for him. That's true for the ears of her audience as well.

If you’re interested in checking out some audio samples from EG's albums such as “Peach Pickin' Mama”, “Unlove You” and “Let The Blues Move You”, poke around her website a bit at www.egkight.com

EG Kight performs at Music on the Square in LaFayette, Georgia. If you think her glasses are cool, you shoulda seen her boots! Look closely behind her and you might recognize some of the faces on the mural (in progress). And check out
Music on the Square

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Comments:
Sounds like a good show. I'll have to keep an eye out for her. Have you checked Dime for her name yet?
 
Nice story, Tim - I can almost hear the music!
 
Joe - it does not appear that she is on Dime.

PJ - thanks!

BTW, I've updated this post to the actual review I wrote.
 
O'Tim - she may be there someday. I was going to DIme for 6 months before I saw any Dr. John, and even longer before I found any Marcia Ball. It's like Times Square..... everyone gets there sooner or later!
 
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