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Sisters’ Keeper
Shemekia Copeland advances the blues-vocal legacy
of Etta James and Koko Taylor at this weekend’s Blues,
Brews & BBQ
The New Times interview
By J.T. Hall

         n the latest Memorial Day weekend          CD Wicked (Alligator),
         possible, WTKW-FM 99.5’s Blues,            selections by Downbeat
         Brews & BBQ returns to Chevrolet           magazine for Rising Star-
Court at the New York State Fairgrounds.            Blues Artist (2005 and
Doors open at 1 p.m. for the Sunday, May            2009) and Contemporary
30, blowout of, well, blues music, beer and         Female Blues Artist of
barbecue.                                           the Year (2002), and
    Music starts at 2 p.m. with the Chris           numerous other nomina-
Terra Band, and continues at 3:10 p.m. when         tions.
Luther “Guitar Jr.” Johnson takes the stage.           Her current CD, Never
Gary Hoey plays at 4:30 p.m., with Shemekia         Going Back (Telarc),
Copeland performing at 6 p.m., before head-         takes a more progressive
liner Kenny Wayne Shepherd goes on at 7:45          direction, and features the Shemekia Copeland: “it’s all about being soulful.”
p.m. All start times are approximate.               Wood brothers (bassist
    Advance sale tickets cost $20 and are on sale   Chris and guitarist Oliver)
at local Napa Auto Parts stores and Ticketmaster    and organist John Medeski and a diverse rep-     Q. What kind of influences
(, 472-0700). Food and          ertoire including songs by her father and Joni                                                      Q: Your father was an accom-
beverages will be available for purchase at the     Mitchell.                                      shaped your interest in music                     plished musician. Did you begin
show, and folding chairs are welcome.                                                              while you were growing up?                        performing with him?
    Since she began her recording career at           Q. What are you bringing in                   A: I grew up around music. My father                A: Absolutely. When I was 8 or 9 years
age 19, Copeland has become a proven and            your band and what will you play?              was a great blues musician. He played music       old I would get up and sing a song with my
popular staple on the blues circuit, a powerful                                                    around the house, and I sang along when I         dad. That’s how I got started. When I got
and dynamic singer full of sass and strut, wise       A: I always have my regular touring          was 3 years old. My mom loved soul music
                                                    band with me: drums, bass, keyboard and                                                          older it graduated to me doing the whole first
beyond her 30 years. The daughter of the late                                                      and gospel. I grew up in Harlem in the hip-       show. I was his opening act. It was some of
blues guitarist Johnny Copeland, the Harlem         two guitar players. I’ll be doing songs from   hop era. Later on I fell in love with the Roll-
                                                    my new record and my previous records. I                                                         the best times of my life, being able to spend
native continues the vocal traditions established                                                  ing Stones and Led Zeppelin and The Who. I        that with my father. He was always very pres-
by Koko Taylor, Etta James and Ruth Brown.          never know from show to show what songs        love everyone from Mahalia Jackson to Otis
                                                    I’m going to do, I don’t have a set list. I                                                      ent in my life. When I was 15 or 16 me and
    She has garnered a long trail of critical                                                      Redding to Koko Taylor to Hank Williams.          my mom would go out on the road with him.
acclaim, including a Grammy nomination,             like to feel out the audience and see what     It’s a big range.
and three W.C. Handy Awards for the 2000            feels right.

                                                                                                                                          Supporting play-
                                                                                                                                          ers: Kenny Wayne
                                                                                                                                          Shepherd (left) and
                                                                                                                                          gary Hoey will also
                                                                                                                                          jam at Sunday’s
                                                                                                                                          Blues, Brews & BBQ.

             May 26 - June 2, 2010 Syracuse New Times                                                             news & oPinion Feature arts & entertainment eVents cLassiFieD
                                                      idle chatter
   Q: Tell me about your admira-
tion for blues singer Ruth Brown.
   A: I just absolutely loved her. She was a
phenomenal artist, one of the best ever. She was
also an amazing person. I got a chance to know
her and be a friend; that’s a special thing for       Greacen formula                                   don’t talk to each other; there’s no
me. I also was lucky enough to have a personal            Get ready to groove with local performing        Greacen is a self-described simple
relationship with Koko Taylor. They were both         artist Andrew Greacen. After stepping out         guy, and the track “Just A Dream” is
friends of my dad, but I didn’t meet them until he    from the shadow of former bands, Greacen          about the least complicated of pas-
passed away and I was out on my 
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