A helping hand

Local blues players stage a benefit for Sandra Hall

Atlanta's blues community will come to the aid of one of its own this weekend with a Sunday afternoon benefit performance for vocalist Sandra Hall. Hall, who lives in Lithonia, suffered a heart attack in August while on tour in Chicago.
"It was so strange, because I drove myself to the hospital," Hall says. "I couldn't catch my breath, and I had a deep cough. When I got there, they told me I was having a heart attack and went to work on me right away."
Hall was hospitalized for nearly a week, enduring follow-up tests and playing her first gig since only last week at Blind Willie's. Though she's feeling better, Hall says she faces more than $13,000 in outstanding medical bills, despite having insurance. Hence the benefit at Blind Willie's from 4-8 p.m. Sunday, featuring Francine Reed, Chicago Bob and the Shadows, Andrew Black, Sandra Littell, Heaven Davis and others.
Hall will return to her vigorous touring schedule early next month. She has toured with the former Junior Wells Band since the harmonica player's death a couple of years ago. She also has a new CD, Miss Red Riding Hood, due on the Rounder label next month.
For more information on the Sandra Hall benefit, call Blind Willie's at 404-873-2583.
Kudos aplenty to Ronda Wenger. With the help of WRFG's Richard "Bald Man" Forrester, photographer Donald Schellhaas and others, Wenger brought together 184 Georgia blues musicians at Piedmont Park on Oct. 1 for a group photo. A few key players were missing, mostly due to out-of-town gigs, but plenty of Georgia's finest showed up. The photo will appear in an upcoming issue of Living Blues magazine and a copy will go to the Georgia Music Hall of Fame. A poster is in the works, as well. Francine Reed appeared on "Late Night With David Letterman" last week with Willie Nelson, singing part of a medley. Reed sang on two cuts on Willie's new Milk Cow Blues CD. Letterman had specifically asked Nelson's management to include Francine in the performance. Reed is in pre-production on her next CD for a January release.
Speaking of CDs: King Johnson has a new one due next month. Stay tuned.
Da Bluzbeat: Want to play a "flat-tire" shuffle, a New Orleans stroll or the Bo Diddley beat? Larry Griffith, drummer for the Electromatics (Fat Matt's Wednesday regulars) and host of the Northside Tavern's Monday night blues jam, has completed an instructional video, The Art of Blues Drumming. It's a no-nonsense primer interspersed with video cuts from the Northside that feature the Electromatics performing the various grooves. For more information, visit Griffith's website, people.atl.mediaone.net/bluzbeat.
Play It Again, Sam: The Breeze Kings had two guests during their Thursday night show at the Northside Tavern a couple of weeks ago. The first was renowned harmonica player Sam Myers from Anson Funderburgh and the Rockets. As Breeze Kings bandleader Carlos Capote tells it, Myers (who worked with blues legends Elmore James and Jimmy Rogers in the '50s) stopped by around 1:30 a.m. after the Rockets' show at Blind Willie's. After three songs, Myers, who is blind, walked/danced alone to the stage front and held out his hand for the microphone. Myers performed several tunes. Vocalist Sweet Betty, from Stone Mountain, also got up for a song.
Tone-Cool recording artist Bernard Allison, son of the late blues guitarist Luther Allison, performs Nov. 2 at the Cotton Club, co-billed with Chris Duarte. In addition, Allison and Duarte will each play acoustic sets beginning at 6 p.m. that evening at Guitar Center, 1485 Northeast Expressway. Allison is touring in support of his new CD, Across the Water.
Talkin' Blues is a monthly column on blues and related subjects, with an emphasis on local artists, venues and events. Please e-mail or forward your blues news to Bryan Powell, 830 Josh Lane, Lawrenceville, GA 30045-3156.