DarielB – Flying Under the Radar

Guest Post: Stoney Dennis – EG Kight on Koko Taylor

Posted in Interviews by darielb on November 16, 2009

EG Kight on left, with her great friend and mentor Koko Taylor, who passed away June 3, 2009.

EG Kight on Koko Taylor

Interview by Stoney Dennis

EG Kight, known as the “Georgia Songbird,” writes music that encompasses blues, jazz, country, southern rock, gospel, and funk. Early in her blues career, she was the only independent artist to have songs included on two Get the Blues! albums, both of which remained on the Billboard charts for over a year (Let the Healing Begin – Get the Blues! released September 18, 2001/ Narm Records; Sad Sad Sunday – Get the Blues! Vol. 2 released July 8, 2003/ Narm Records). Other artists on these albums included Delbert McClinton, Stevie Ray Vaughn, Keb’ Mo’, Robert Cray, Muddy Waters, and Koko Taylor.

Kight has been nominated for six Blues Music Awards, two of which were for Song of the Year. Her songs “Fuel to Burn” and “Bad Rooster” were included on Koko Taylor’s Grammy nominated albums Royal Blue (Alligator Records, 2000) and Old School (Alligator Records, 2007), respectively. Kight’s newest release “It’s Hot in Here” was ranked #1 on the Blues Roots Chart as well as on Sirius/XM Satellite Radio’s Bluesville Channel. Kight considers herself a singer first and foremost, though she began playing guitar as a child, and her song lyrics are based on personal experience as well. She is always on the move, touring and teaching songwriting workshops both in the United States and overseas.

Kight recently finished a three-week tour of Germany and Norway with her European band Blue Alley.  She performed at venues in Dusseldorf, Hamburg, Detmold, Lippstadt, and Kristiansand, Norway. At one concert, she played with the popular Norwegian band “Rita’s Lolitas.”  Fans fell in love with Kight almost immediately as she wooed them with her southern hospitality.

In addition to performing with her full band, she plays acoustic solo shows, such as her recent act at the Rock Café in Paderborn, Germany. The tour came to a close with Kight headlining a concert called “Blues Meets Gospel” where she performed her original song “Through the Eyes of a Child” with a full gospel choir for the first time. This song has been nominated as one of the top ten selections in the Peace Song Challenge conducted by Bring Peace Not Pain, a multi-faceted grassroots organization that strives to promote peace throughout the world. “Through the Eyes of a Child” is one of the most real life songs I have ever heard. The musical arrangement is powerful and Kight speaks words that surpass the barriers of class, race, or cultural background. Everyone in the world can relate to this song. She taps into peoples’ emotions with masterful, smooth vocals and heart-warming lyrics.

I was invited by my friend, producer Paul Hornsby, to sit in on Kight’s latest recording session at Muscadine Studios in Macon, Ga. She and Hornsby are co-producing “Koko’s Song,” which will be included on Kight’s upcoming album. I had the privilege of listening to her record the lead vocal track for the song. Her vocals were full of energy and passion. She was so meticulous with every syllable and every note. When I listened to her sing I felt like time was standing still for just an instant and I had witnessed the birth of a song that many will cherish.

As a singer/songwriter myself it was amazing for me to talk music with her. I told her I covered  “Stormy Monday,” (originally recorded by T-Bone Walker) and she was thrilled that I was so interested in the blues. When I shared my songs with her she responded by saying, “I enjoyed listening to your music. Great blues.”

Kight spoke masterful words to me and it was a great privilege. I was intrigued by her desire to write songs dedicated to the memory of Koko Taylor, and asked if I could schedule an interview. She graciously agreed to answer my questions.

Dennis: What does EG stand for?

Kight: Eugenia Gail. I was named after my father Eugene who was named after Eugene Talmadge, governor of Georgia in the 1930’s and 40’s.

Dennis: What do you remember most about when you first started out in music?

Kight: Music was always a part of my life. My mother sang in a gospel band with my uncle. I grew up singing in the church. Music came naturally to me. I couldn’t ever imagine doing anything else. When I was 16 I got my heart broken and wrote my first song about love.

Dennis: Can you tell me a little about your family life?

Kight: I’m from Dublin, Ga. and I still live here. I live on the same land that belonged to my great grandfather. I never had any children because I never got married. I came close to being married a few times, but if I had done that I would have had to quit my music. I guess you could say that no one supported my music the way I wanted. I’ve never really talked about this much. I had always been an only child, but when I was 23 my parents adopted a baby – Scotty, who is now 31 years old. I remember bringing him home from the hospital and I helped raise him. For this reason, I had a hard time distinguishing him as my brother or as my child.

Dennis: You started out in country music. Can you give me some information on that part of your career?

Kight: I started opening for country shows. I opened for George Jones, Conway Twitty, and Brenda Lee, and also performed with Ray Price and Jerry Lee Lewis. I appeared several times on Nashville Now, a variety television series that focused on musical performances and interviews with guests. I was doing Top 40 country songs back then and some blues and popular stuff too. When I was in my early 20s I performed for the Macon Elks Club. Actor Patrick O’Neal saw me sing there and told me that he was directing a made-for-TV movie called “Mr. Griffith and Me” starring Burgess Meredith and Gloria Graham. I got a job as Meredith’s vocal instructor for that movie.

Back in the early days I played over 300 dates a year. I performed in resort areas like Jekyll Island and St. Simons Island. I had a really big fan base in Tulsa, Okla. especially. I played both country and blues in my act at that time. See, what I would do – I would play country music, then when I switched to blues I would put on my sunglasses so the crowd would know it. Well, it got to the point where people liked the blues more and they would say, “Put your glasses on” during my show and things like that. So I was on the fence about what to do and I eventually favored the blues.

Dennis: What made you want to switch to blues?

Kight: I was playing a gig one night in Warner Robins, Ga. and a waitress asked me if I had ever considered singing blues. She told me that I should listen to an album by Koko Taylor. I picked up a cassette tape by Koko called Queen of the Blues. From the first moment I heard her music, it sparked a new emotion in me. It felt real. I remember listening to it in my car and thinking “I have to put this in my act.” I bought all her CDs and covered her songs. I enjoyed playing the blues more, it was well received by my fans, and I was making more money.

Dennis:What was it about Koko Taylor that made her so special?

Kight: It was just the way she made me feel when she sang her songs. She conveyed the message to her audience in such a way that they could tell that her music was straight from the heart. Listeners could connect with her on a deeper level. She was my mentor but more importantly my friend.

Dennis: When did you meet Koko?

Kight: On March 13, 1995 at 10 p.m. I met her in Chattanooga, Tenn. She was playing at a place called The Sandbar.  I begged the owner to let me meet her. When I met Koko I didn’t give her much room to say anything. See, I only had a limited time to talk with her. I was trying to say everything I wanted to tell her as fast as I could. I thought, “She is going to think I’m a nut.” But it ended up turning out okay. Koko just smiled a lot as I talked. I think she was in awe that I knew so much about her. I knew every time she had been sick or gotten in a car accident for example, more personal things that most people wouldn’t know. I think that made an impression on her. Anyway she ended up calling me on the phone and that’s when we started to develop a relationship.

Dennis: Koko’s Grammy nominated albums featured two of your original songs. Can you elaborate on the creative process involved in working with her?

Kight: I feel privileged to have been able to work with such a remarkable musician. It was a surreal experience. I would send the song to Koko. She would call me back and sing it over the phone to me. Koko would sing it how she wanted it to go, and would ask me “Are you sure you like it this way?” I remember thinking “I would like it any way you did it.” But I told her to do whatever she wanted with my song. I told her to make it her own and she did. Koko would sing it for Bruce Iglauer, president of Alligator Records, the largest and oldest blues label to date. She would sing my song to Bruce and then he and I would spend a lot of time editing the track and things like that. It was such an honor to work with both Koko and Bruce.

Dennis: What gave you the idea to write a song about Koko?

Kight: I wanted to write a song that explained not only who she was as a performer, but also who she was as a person. After I wrote the song “The Queen” about her in 2000, she would always say, “Sing that song about me.” Sadly, she passed away June 3, 2009. Her passing was heavy on my heart during the time I wrote “Koko’s Song.” She was sweet and good-natured, a kind and generous woman. One could realize her love of life and people when listening to her songs.

Dennis: Have any of your songs been featured in a way that was especially rewarding for you?

Kight: My performance of the song “Through the Eyes of A Child” was broadcast during the 2007 and 2008 Children’s Miracle Network Telethons. That was a rewarding experience because that song is very meaningful to me. I had the opportunity to perform this song with a full gospel choir in Schlangen, Germany. I was honored to work with a choir for the first time because my songs had never been presented in that way. When I heard the rehearsal it brought tears to my eyes.

Dennis:Where are you currently touring/performing?

Kight: I’ve been in Europe for three weeks in Germany and Norway. I’ve been through Dusseldorf, Hamburg, and other little towns in Germany. This is my third year playing overseas with my German band Blue Alley.

Dennis: What’s coming up for you?

Kight: I’m playing at Calvin’s Live Jazz and Blues in Warner Robins, Ga., and at the Rookery in Macon, Ga. Since I am from Dublin it is like playing at home to me.

Dennis: I know you were the headliner for the National Women in Blues” festival in Wilmington, North Carolina in 2007.  How did you get involved?

Kight: Michele Seidman, director of the National Women in Blues festival, heard me playing at The Blues Music Awards in Memphis, Tenn., and invited me to sing at the festival. I feel like women have always had a harder struggle in the music business than men. I don’t know exactly why that is. Someone like Michele who promotes women in the arts, that means a lot to me. The event was good because it brought so many women in the arts together to perform. I got most everybody up on stage with me – Michele, Big Red, Laura Chavez, and Robin Rogers to name a few. We had ourselves a large time. I really enjoyed it and I know everyone there enjoyed it also.

Dennis:What women do you see as up and coming blues artists?

Kight: Shemekia Copeland, Nora Jean Bruso, Robin Rogers, Reba Russell, and Dorothy Moore.  I especially like Moore’s song “Misty Blue.”

For more information about EG Kight, visit http://www.egkight.com or http://www.myspace.com/egkight. For more information about Stoney Dennis, visit http://www.myspace.com/stoneydennis.

Thanks to Stoney Dennis and EG Kight! Interview ©2009 Stoney Dennis.


Beach, blues, rock & a big ole Fish Shtick

Posted in Live Performance Previews/Reviews by darielb on November 4, 2009
November is going to be a great month for music fans along the S.C. Grand Strand. If Carolina beach music is your bag, a special weekend of Carolina Beach Music Academy (CBMA) awards, live music and shag dancing is set for Nov. 11 – 15.  For cutting edge rock with beautifully crafted lyrics, plan to attend the South By Southeast presentation of the Youngers at the Myrtle Beach Train Depot on Saturday, Nov. 7.
Blues aficionados will want to head inland on Nov. 5 – 8 for the first ever Pee Dee Blues Bash in Florence, S.C. for four days of national, regional and local blues artists. And finally, those who like their rock & soul with some charity on the side, Jim Quick’s Big Fish Shtick is going to be serving up some tasty fare in Wilmington, N.C. on Sunday, Nov. 8.
Chuck JAckson

Receiving the Pioneer Award at the 2009 Carolina Beach Music Awards is R&B artist Chuck Jackson.

CBMA Awards

This is a long weekend of live music and partying. The local clubs will be jumpin’ with artists who don’t  come to town all that often. Pre-parties start Wednesday night with the Craig Woolard Band at 2001 Nightclub and the Embers at Duck’s Beach Club. The rascally King Tyrone & the Graveyard Ramblers will reign at Fat Harold’s on Thursday while the Sand Band plays the O.D. Beach club.

Highlights of Friday performances include Mark Roberts & Breeze AND Too Much Sylvia at Ducks, while Rhonda McDaniel and Brasstyme are up the street at Pirate’s Cove.
On Saturday, the CBMA Benefit Cookout & Showcase gets started at noon and runs until 3 p.m. The pig pickin’ is being hosted by Carolina deejays Big John Ruth (102.9 FM) and Neal “Soul Dog” Furr. Gary Smith (WLWL 770AM) will host the showcase, which features the Taylor Manning Band along with the Tim Clark Band plus some surprise artists singing to tracks.
The Industry Awards show, hosted by deejays Chad Sain and Ray Scott starts at 4 p.m. at the Spanish Galleon. Get there early. This is a popular event (Saturday passes are required this year.). Saturday night shows include the Fantastic Shakers at the O.D. Beach Club; The Castaways AND Hardway Connection at the Spanish Galleon; Holiday Band at Fat harold’s; Tommy black & Blooz at Duck’s and The Souls AND the Sand Band at Pirate’s Cove.
Sunday morning is the popular band fair (and yes, some of them are awake) where fans can meet the artists, get autographs, photos, Ced, T-shirts and more.
The culmination of the weekend is the annual awards show held at the Alabama Theatre in North Myrtle Beach. R&B performer Clifford Curry (“She Shot a Hole In My Soul,” “We’re Gonta Hate Ourselves In the Morning,” “Beach Music & Barbecue”) is scheduled to perform. So is Nashville’s soul blues artist Rickey Godfrey   The 2009 inductees into the Carolina Beach Music Hall of Fame include R&B singer Chuck Jackson, probably best known for his 1962 recording of  “Any Day Now” (Burt Bacharach-Bob Hilliard). He recorded the classic “How Long Have You Been Loving Me” on Carolina Records, a collaboration with Charles Wallet, who penned “Brenda,”  O.C. Smith’s 1986 hit single.
Other inductees include:
• Ted Hall, who booked his first band at the ripe old age of 16 and is now with East Coast Entertainment .
• Bill Lester, deejay with WORL 96.7 in Roxboro, N.C., whose Beach Party show airs every Saturday afternoon.
• Don Textural, longtime drummer and party animal with the Fantastic Shakers;
•Freddy Tripp, keyboard player, also with the Fantastic Shakers; and
• The Attractions Band, the class beach group from Burlington, N.C. known for hits like “Zing Went the Strings of My Heart.”
For more information about the weekend and the awards show, log onto http://www.cammy.org.



SxSE presents roots rock group the Youngers at their Nov. 7 Music Feast.

SxSE Presents The Youngers

On Nov. 7, South By Southeast brings a simmering music feast to the Myrtle Beach Train Depot. Headlining are The Youngers, who define their sound as alt-country, but aren’t afraid to get electric now and again. They’re touring in support of Heritage, their latest CD, a collection of 13 thought-provoking lyrical tunes that establish the group as a breakthrough voice in roots rock.  Producer John Carter Cash, son of country legends John and Johnny Cash and June Carter Cash, says, “The Youngers are not just the cutting edge of where music should be right now, they  hold to the roots. Their style is both unique and reminiscent of some of the greatest rock and roll of our time, timeless and groundbreaking.”
The group’s press kit says it best, I think: Imagine a car crash between Hank Williams and Neil Young. That’s the Youngers.
Frontman and founder Todd Bartolo handles vocals, lap steel and guitar. Dax Bryan also plays guitar. Randy Krater plays bass and also provides vocals.  On drums and percussion is Justin Schaefer.
The opening act is Hippie Dog Produce. Gonna be a fun night.
South By Southeast is my favorite nonprofit music organization. They strive to support American music that’s not usually heard in mainstream venues.
Membership is $25. Tickets to the show are $20 for members and $25 for members who haven’t joined yet. The show starts at 7 p.m., but if you’re hungry, get there at 6 p.m. to take advantage of the free pot luck dinners, wine, soda and brew courtesy of New South Brewery. The historic Train Depot is located at 851 Broadway in Myrtle Beach, S.C. For more information, call 843-497-3643 or find them on Facebook (South By Southeast: SXSE Music Feast).



Chicago bluesman Bill Lupkin, one to see. Photo by Kate Moss.

Pee Dee Blues Bash

This is a brand new event. The first annual Pee Dee Blues Bash, brought to you by blues promoter Gary Erwin aka Shrimp City Slim, takes place Nov. 5 – 8 throughout the city of Florence, S.C. At last count, there were 11 different venues featuring 14 different artists in 24 shows – all of them free to the public.
Artists include a range of national, regional and local musicians. From Indiana comes Bill Lupkin & the Chicago Blues Coalition. If you’re into Windy-City style blues harp, you’ll want to check this out (billlupkin.com). Daddy Mack Blues Band hails from Memphis with the raw urban sounds of Beale Street. Get ready to boogie! (myspace.com/thedaddymackbluesband)
Charlie Sayles & the Blues Disciples, best known for Charlie’s harpwork will be featuring guitarist Tony Fazio. People will be talking about this show! (charliesayles.com/tonyfazio.com)
Chicago’s Studebaker John & the Hawk is all about jump and jive. This is a rare Carolina appearance for this hard core Chicago band. (studebakerjohn.com)
If acoustic folk and blues is your pleasure, check out Veronika Jackson from Atlanta. You won’t be disappointed. (veronikajackson.com)
S.C.’s own Jeff Norwood brings you an authentic backwoods Mississippi flavor. You’ll swear you’re hearing tunes from another time and place, but more often than not, Jeff’s the songwriter. Well worth your time.
Other acts include Drink Small, Deb Callahan, Detroit Debbie, Shrimp City Slim, Juke Joint Johnny & Drew Baldwin, Motherless Chillin’, Freddie Vanderford & Brandon Turner Matt Walsh Blues Band and Cotton Blue.
For a list of venues and schedule of events, visit http://www.peedeebluesbash.com. Then get you some blues!



Jim Quick is offering two of his original folk art paintings for auction, with proceeds to benefit UCP of Wilmington.

Jim Quick’s Big Fish Shtick

Anyone from around these parts knows Jim Quick is the crazy frontman for the crazy Coastline band and the even crazier King Tyrone & the Graveyard Ramblers.
You may not know, however, that United Cerebral Palsy (UCP) of Wilmington, N.C. is a charity near and dear to Jim’s heart and this is the third year for Jim Quick’s Big Fish Shtick, a fundraiser for the nonprofit group. It takes place from 1 to 6 p.m. on Sunday, Nov. 8 at the Triangle Lounge in Wilmington. Tickets are $20 and include some of the best local food you can imagine –  Capt. Crain’s Shrimp Stew, Boom Boom’s Barbeque, plus steamed oysters, fried fish and all the fixin’s courtesy of Jones Fish Camp.
The music is also gonna be hot and heavy: Jim Quick & Coastline, who will be opening in Cancun, Mexico next month for Montgomery Gentry;  Hip Pocket, a rockin’ high energy band playing everything from 60s soul to party dance music; and Joey Warren, one of my favorite deejays. If you haven’t tuned into his Sunday morning gospel show on 94.9 The Surf, you need to!
There will also be art auctions with pieces donated by Jim Quick, Babs Ludwick, Ramona Bendin (yep, my mom) and more.
The Triangle Lounge is located at 5920 Wrightsville Avenue, Wilmington, N.C. For those who don’t want to drive, a bus ($20 cost per person) will be leaving from Deckerz Grill in North Myrtle Beach, S.C. Log onto oceandrivehappens.com for information.
Author Dariel Bendin can be contacted on the Internet on MySpace (myspace.com/culturejunkie); Facebook, Live Blues World and Twitter (Twitter.com/darielb). ©2009 Dariel Bendin