Interview: EG Kight, The Georgia Songbird Singing

EG Kight

EG Kight

EG Kight is one of the most precious folks that I have met in the Blues world. Always generous with her time, smiles and words spoken out of friendship to me as well as others. When I first heard her voice I sat bolt upright and had to run to the radio to see who that was. To see her perform in concert is a thing of beauty, she warms the stage with her home spun style and music.

She has worked with Goerge Jones, Conway Twitty, Hubert Sumlin, Pinetop Perkins and many more outstanding musicians.
Funny, insightful, self-effacing and very talented, I know you will enjoy this conversation we had just the other day.
She can be found on the web at http://www.egkight.com/

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Blues411: How and when did you acquire the moniker ‘The Georgia Songbird’ – what does it mean to you to be considered as such?

EG Kight: I’ve been known as the Georgia Songbird for probably over 30 years now. It actually started as a CB handle and kind of stuck. Most of my friends call me Bird. I was referred to as the Georgia Songbird on national tv in the 80’s and 90’s so most everybody knows who that is. It’s a good feeling to be a sort of representative of my state and music!

B411: The history of nicknames has always fascinated to me.  Yet well known as you are for your voice, you are also a tremendous songwriter. Personally, I have always felt a strong tie to your lyrics. You cover a wide scope of subjects and feelings – do you have a process for songwriting – do you start with a lyric, a melody – piano????

EG: Songs come to me from everywhere. I usually think of a good hook line when I’m out walking near my home. I use my guitar to find the melodies. Sometimes the melodies come to me the same time as the lyrics. To me those are my strongest songs. They’re like a gift just handed down to me. It’s awesome when that happens.

B411: Who are some artists who have performed your songs?

EGKoko Taylor, Dorothy Moore, Reba Russell, Lisa Biales, Saffire – The Uppity Blues Women, Shakura S’Aida, Ann Rabson and Bob Margolin, and jazz artist Jaimee Paul. And there are several more regional artists who’ve recorded or performed some of my songs.

EG Plays the Blues

EG Plays the Blues

B411: How do you react when other folks do your songs? I am sure it is good, but do they ‘get it’, is their spin on it perfectly acceptable to you?

E.G.: Everyone feels songs their own way and I always tell them to make it their own. I get so excited when I hear another artist singing one of my songs putting their own spin to it. It’s a natural high.
When Dorothy Moore sang one of my songs, “Let The Healing Begin” at the Blues Music Awards, I got tears in my eyes. She nailed it and it made my night. It was wonderful.

B411: That was a wondeful moment for all of us. I loved Ms. Moore’s version on her release ‘Blues Heart’ and her performing it live that night was, indeed, wonderful.

E.G.: I won’t ever forget driving through Atlanta one afternoon when Koko Taylor called and sang one of my songs to me over the phone. She wanted to know if it sounded okay. I was so excited that I almost had a wreck! I said, “Don’t you know that you could sing ‘my dog has fleas’ and I’d love it?!”

Koko also sang with me on one of my original songs on one of my albums. That was a lot of fun! And that song and that album will always be even more special to me because of her. I sure do miss her…

B411: It is safe to say, we all miss Koko. That’s a great event and memory to have, that is very, very special.
I usually don’t ask this question but – what kind of guitar do you play. There is such amazing tone and it seems to be locked into your vocal range and sound that it must be made just for you?

EG: When performing solo or duo, I play a Taylor 712ce acoustic. In fact, Taylor provides my guitars. I have a Taylor solid body electric that is really nice too that I play sometimes. I’ve played Fender Strats for most of my career, so I usually have my red sparkle strat close by when I have a band show. I also love the tone of the old Fender amps. I use a 1965 Fender Deluxe Reverb on my band shows.

B411: Besides singer/songwriter and stellar guitarist – you are also a well recognized photographic artist. How did you get into that, has it always been another passion for you or did you acquire it by being on the road as often as you are?

Blue Ribbon Goat

Blue Ribbon Goat

EG: I’ve always loved taking pictures. In fact I took most of the photos for one of my high school yearbooks. Since digital photography came to be, I’ve really gotten more into it. I still have a lot to learn and I’m eager to learn more about it. It’s almost as exciting to me as my music. I just love it! And I was honored to place in the top three in a recent contest for a new hospital. So one of my photos of one of my goats is now hanging in a hospital in middle Georgia. I hope it brings comfort to those who see it.

B411: Very cool, I love seeing photos of your goats and such, they always bring a smile to me when I see them on Facebook.
It’s good to know tht those things we did in high school are actually still with some of us, and are useful. Well you should get together with Leslie she just got a new Canon and it uploads to the web also. She just started using it last week, they are so amazing these days. So you always take your camera with you when you travel for gigs?

EG: I always have a camera nearby. I’ve taken many pictures on the road. You just never know what you’ll run into traveling. There are some amazing things that are just waiting for a picture down the road.

B411: Is there something new to look forward to from you in the near future that you can share with us?

EG: I’ve produced two albums for Lisa Biales, who is a great singer from Ohio. We just finished her second one and it will be coming out in March. She and I also just debuted our new duo, “The Peach Pickin’ Mamas”. We have a ball singing together, so we decided to start doing it on the road. We just did some shows in Austin last week, and we got a standing ovation. I’m also writing new songs for my next album. I have about four songs done already and am looking to release my new album in 2014.

Lisa & EG

The Peach Pickin’ Mama’s
(Lisa Biales & EG)

B411: Well I am really looking forward to hearing your new stuff.
Yes, I have been introduced to Ms. Biales through you and Bill Wax. Tell us about how you two hooked up in the first place?

EG: Lisa and her husband Marc first heard me on the Blues Cruise several years ago. She emailed me after the cruise and asked about me coming to play a house concert for them. So a few months later I put a mini Ohio tour together and went and performed for them.
She and Marc have a beautiful house just made for concerts, called the Big Song Music House. I invited her to come up on stage and sing with me and it was pure magic. The next day she was telling me how she needed help with her recordings, and she felt like she was losing her enthusiasm with the music business. So I suggested that she needed a producer. When I got home, she emailed and asked me to produce her next album. I had produced my own records, and hadn’t worked with other artists at that point, so I had to think about it. Then I talked her into coming to Macon, Georgia and I got Paul Horsnby to help with the project. Paul’s had success with Charlie Daniels, Marshall Tucker and numerous others, and I’ve learned a lot from him over the years. So I thought it would be good for us to co-produce her record.

Like I said earlier, we just got through with Lisa’s second project and it will be out in March. The first album, “Just Like Honey” went to #1 on the Roots Chart and it landed in the top 10 on Bluesville and several other stations. Her music is really getting around.
And she and I debuted our “Peach Pickin’ Mama’s” show last week in Austin and we had a ball! I can’t wait to see where this duo takes us.

B411: She is an incredible artist also, and the sound and vibe that you two create is something to behold. I hope that you two get out more and play around the country more. Hear that festival and club owners!

EG: Thanks! We’d love to!

B411: Is there a song you have not covered that you have always wanted to do but for some reason or another never quite got to putting it on a release?

EG: I love the older Etta James songs. And songs like “Please Send Me Someone to Love” is right up my alley. I always try to put one cover song on all my albums, a song that’s been special to me. I never know which one will land on my next album, so you’ll just have to stay tuned to find out!

B411: Even more reason to look forward to the next release. Just Where did the Blues find you?

Comfortable in the Blues

Comfortable in the Blues

EG: In the 1990’s I was at a crossroads, performing mostly country music with a little mix of pop. The genre was going in a direction that I didn’t care for and couldn’t feel any more. I had already been turned on to Bonnie Raitt and Phoebe Snow, whom I loved, and then when I heard the soulful voice of Koko Taylor, I was hooked. I started singing some of her songs in my country shows and they became more popular with my fans than what I’d been singing for years. So I jumped the fence and started really getting into the blues and have never looked back. Blues has given me a freedom with my writing that I never had in other genres. It’s so much fun to write and it provides a new way to express what real life is about. You don’t have to hold back in Blues. You can just tell it like it is. It’s the real deal. It’s how we live every day.

B411: Very true, it is the story of our lives, individually and collectively.
Ok the one question everyone wants to know – what does EG stand for?

EG: I was named after my daddy, Eugene. I’m Eugenia Gail. Everyone around my hometown still calls me Gail which is fine with me. I’ll answer to either one!

B411: Thank you for answering that, one never knows the specifics or reasons behind some names and it had always intrigued me.
So you will be appearing at the Savannah Jazz Fest this coming Thursday September 26 in Forsyth Park – I am trying my best to churn the waters so that bunches of folks come out to enjoy your special talent. Plus it’s a free concert.

EG: I really appreciate that! Every little bit helps! I’m especially excited about the three festivals I’ve got coming up because my incredible band will be with me. I do a lot of solo shows, but it’s always great to be on stage with these guys – Gary Porter, Johnny Fountain, Ken Wynn and Mike Harrell. I’ve known all of them for decades, and they’re as close as brothers to me. I love them all, and I hope the fans can tell that, from the way we play together. Our music is tight, and magical. And I love to show them off to everyone, so I hope we see lots of folks out there!

Watermelon Slim & EG Kight

Watermelon Slim & EG Kight

B411: I think you will be surprised at the turnout, positively so.
Last time I saw you, you jammed with Watermelon Slim, who is also appearing there, that was such fun.

EG: I recently saw Slim at the Cincinnati Blues Festival and we had a chance to chat and catch up with each other a bit. We even talked about doing some shows together. You never know what a Watermelon and a Songbird may do!

B411: Having seen it once I can certainly do with some more of that special kind of concoction! See you there and looing forward to new music from you very soon.

EG: You’ve got a hug waiting for you. Thanks so much Jimi!

B411: I will surely collect it EG, thanks.

Love, Peace & Chicken Grease

chefjimi
©Blues411.com 2013
Where Blues Thrive

Photos: Leslie K. Joseph (as noted), courtesy of artist.

 

 

Live Blues News: From Texas to Pennsylvania

This coming weekend there may just be enough Blues to go around. Well at least a round trip from Pennsylvania to Texas….

TCBFLINKLets start in Midland, Texas – where we have the Tall City Blues Festival. In it’s 2nd year, this up and coming festival features a wide ranging variety of artists including from California Ms. Laurie Morvan, from Canada Ms. Shakura S’Aida, from the streets of NYC Ms. Kirsten Thien all bringing original and deep felt interpretations of the blues. Wait that’s just the ladies!

On the men’s side we have, pedigreed Bluesman Zac Harmon from Jackson, Mississippi, solid rockin’ blues artist Chris Duarte from Atlanta, always an improvisational delight from Colorado Eddie Turner, and deep dish Chicago Blues man Nick Moss. Oh wait there are more but heck this is enuf to get anyone’s saliva glands started for feasting on the Blues main plate.

Another very cool thing is that Vinny Marini will be broadcasting from nearby the festival on Friday, July 26th, and Saturday July 27. You can click on these links and listen live to his interviews with artists and more and get involved in the chat room. Tell them Blues411 sent ya!

 

PABlues200Now on the east side of town, we got ourselves a festival that sets the highest of standards, The Pennsylvania Blues Fest. Located in Palmerton, PA, which is located in Carbon County (yeh like coal). This year’s festival runs July26 – 28th, which equals two full days plus a kick off jam n Friday night.
Opening act on the Main Stage Saturday is none other than Mr. John Primer and his band. That’s real deal Chicago Blues my friends, and if you have not seen this band kick out the jams then you are in for a thrill – it ain’t gone away! On the tent stage the opening act is none other than another legend, Mr. Guy Davis. How the hell does one choose?
The good news is that Mr. Cloeren had the foresight to schedule each band on each stage so you don’t have to miss any of these artists.
Us East-siders get to see some West Coast Soul & Blues in Sista Monica Parker,and just because he can he adds Robert Randolph in two doses – one as The Slide Brothers and the other as The Robert Randolph Family Band – that is just gonna rock ya to your soul.
If you have anything left in ya the late night jam is featuring Mr. Johnny Rawls and the Dave Keller Band – that’s R&B so thick and funky y’all can taste it.

And that’s just Saturday ! ! !
Sunday will start with the amazing Alexis P. Suter and a fourty member choir starts the day off the right way with some good ol’ gospel. From there on it covers the spectrum of all that is the blues, from Bobby Rush (solo and with Revue), the dynamic and inspirational Ms. Ruthie Foster Eddie & Vaan Shaw to a collection of top notch Canadian artists coming South for a summer gig in the mountains.

From where I sit this is similar to one of the where all our brothers and sisters can get out and support live blues music and be with the extended framily let’s get out and do it up right. If ya can’t be at either of these epic events, then check out where you can gather with the tribe and send those lovin’ good vibrations out there.

You wont regret it!

Love, Peace & Chicken Grease
chefjimi

©Blues411.com 2013
Where Blues Thrives

PS: On Staurday there will be a ‘Meet & Greet’ session at the PA Blues Festival featuring many of the artists plus Tony Colter (SiriusXM Bluesville) myself and others asking and taking questions. Dare not to miss this.

More Than In My Mind, I Am In Carolina. Bluffton that is.

Funny the slogan for the town of Bluffton is “a state of mind”…your guess is as good as mine as to what it really means – but they now have me, Leslie and Blues411 as full time residents. My figuring is that it sorta fits with the Blues411 lifestyle “a state of mind” seems to be what we are all about.

We are not tied into any specific national/international region, or sub-genre of blues: we are where the music takes us from Florida and the Bradenton Festival, to Norwich and the Chenango Festival, to a fantastic Blue Mountain PA Blues Fest then across the country to the Earl Thomas Raise The Roof Cavalcade of Stars, we really are about the music and where it is at any particular space in time.

lob-stah' feast!

lob-stah’ feast!

But is also pertinent to my lifestyle over the years. Having lived in many places (was just going over the list with my oldest brother – who has moved or lived in exactly 2 places) each has offered what was needed for me at that time. Living in NYC I grew and was exposed to all the whole ‘yin and yang’ of life. I choose from both sides enthusiastically. The wilds of the suburban lifestyle served my career as a graphic designer until the eventual health issues from burn out sent me to culinary school, where I acquired the moniker ‘chefjimi’. This path took me to Western NY and as a small business operator I developed my sense of branding and culinary skills.

Then about 8-10 years ago when a chance vacation trip to South Carolina exposed me to XM radio (pre-merger) and the thriving world of Blues music. Well, y’all know pretty much the rest of that story up to the last month or so. Let me drop the other shoe on what has been happening of late.

Red Wine, Porch and Leslie

Red Wine, Porch and Leslie

Loving Coastal Carolina (the Low Country, as it is called in these here parts) it seemed it would be a great place to set up permanent residence at some point. Little did we know that the future was coming full speed ahead. As I grew Blues411, my wife Leslie worked in the corporate world for the worlds largest wine & spirits company. Her job was endless working with both coasts as well as Europe, China and Australia/New Zealand…yeh what time zone was that 2:00pm meeting in ??? Yet as is the way with corporate life there comes a day when the rug or plug gets pulled – and that situ seemed to be becoming more of a probability than possibility.

This takes us to about 10 weeks or so ago. Those tea leaves had been stirred and it was coming up leaving time. So we talked it out and sought an exit strategy for the life we had been leading, and open a new chapter for the one we wanted to lead. That’s when the dome of silence came down (think ‘Get Smart’ with agents 86 and 99) and we began putting a package together that would get us to where we wanted to be now and for the future.

Blues Loft

Blues Loft

May 1st, Leslie submitted her retirement intentions and over the course of the month things got worked out and settled. May 20th, the moving truck (and I mean truck) showed up and on Saturday May 25th, it got here to our home. Oh yeh there are still plenty of boxes despite the great snaps I put up on Facebook, and Leslie is still in Rochester coordinating the transition and all that corporate jibber jabber stuff.

Why Bluffton, SC. Big thing is NO SNOW! Yeh enuf of all that shoveling, icy roads, freezing stay in the house weather…gimme sun, surf, lanai’s and one floor living (yeh I am old and the knees ain’t what they used to be). But with the heat the knees are doing better and I have already lost ten pounds of seemingly permanent winter weight. Plus playing tennis three to four times a week helps too.

So what’s on tap for us and Blues411?

Keep it on the tow and four!

Keep it on the two and four!

Well being this far South opens up a plethora of new venues and events that we can take part of and bring to light for our readers. We are 2 hours from Charleston, where there is a good music base. Savannah is about 30 minutes from us, and Jacksonville is a short 3 hours —- but think about it, Atlanta is a one day drive, Memphis & Nashville are a long one day or two day trip. Mississippi Virginia and the area is all within striking distance. Many new worlds to be seen, many new friends to make and all for the picking.

Also looking forward to hitting the streets and getting some live blues music down these parts. Looking for clubs, festivals, and might even start a blues society. we will not be idle-trust us.

Funny, as I have been writing this, Bluesville has been playing just the right songs, from Danny Brooks ‘Miracles for Breakfast’, Buddy Guy ‘Damn Right I Got The Blues’ and so on. A sure sign that we are on the right road and right turn, the right place and right time.

Thank you all for the support and understanding you know where to find me, don’t be shy. Special thanks to Bluesville for keeping the Blues thriving and Betsie Brown of Blind Raccoon and Mark Pucci of Mark Pucci Media for getting me the very first new deliveries of great music to help with the packing. Two pleasant surprises to mention one from Lisa Grissom of Tall City Blues fest for the new edition of ‘West Texas Blues’ magazine, and the other from Vicki Markusic for a very cool CD. These things have made me feel at home and comfortable. And as the song that’s playing now says “I’m a rockin’ mother foyer I ain’t gonna tell ya no lie”.

Vinny Marini

Vinny Marini

PS:
Tonight (Monday) you can catch up with me on Vinny Marini’s Music On the Couch show with Brad Vickers, Shakura S’Aida and the Blues Women International recording group. http://www.blogtalkradio.com/musiconthecouch/2013/06/04/brad-vickers-shakura-saida-wib-international-and-blues411 .

Love, Peace & Chicken Grease

chefjimi
©Blues411.com 2013
Where Blues Thrives
Photos: Leslie K. Joseph, ‘Lobstah Feast’ by Jen Taylor

 

Bluestock Revisited One Year Later

Just over a year ago many of the tribe had gathered at Bluestock. A festival that would combine the vibe of  Woodstock (in same area) with the great music of the Blues it soon became THE place to be.

Steve Simon had this dream, and he delivered on it. With the folks from Mountain Jam and Michael Cloereon at his side this three day festival was ready to go but Hurricane Irene had another thing in mind. She stalled over the mountain region of NY State and poured tons of water and with winds in total disregard for all the people there and in the region.

The first day went well, but by the evening Steve and  company knew adjustments had to be made. It would now be a two day festival, all the acts that were there would play but airlines were cancelling flights, the NYS thruway was a mess and the local roads were even worse -under water and washed out. So to insure the  safety of all they made the gutsy call. Robert Cray would open at 11:00 am followed by Buddy Guy, all acts then would be in the giant ski lodge complex indoors – featuring back to back stages and would go all night.

It worked, the bands played, the people danced and were safe.  The term ‘Framily‘ was coined there, a made-up word that speaks of the friends and family aspect of the Blues community and how we feel toward each other.

The official fest ended Saturday, but we were all still there. Intermittent power, made smart decision making a priority – when to eat and when to use battery power. Everyone was on their own till some went to the main lobbies of their hotels and started to congregate. I happend to find Kirsten Thien and Eric Boyd walking thru the lobby and asked if they would mind playing some music while we had light, soon Pat Pepin and Kit Holliday joined us and we were off with a fantastic acoustic jam that took some of the pressure off us all.

The lodge managed to open up long enough to feed many guests, then began giving away perishables  since they would spoil over the coming days.

The next morning we found the roads closed, power lines down. Many managed to get off the mountain, others remained for an extended stay. Out trek got us to Albany then headed west, but the thruway was still closed – flooding at all points along it from Albany to Buffalo. We managed to turn back and find a hotel for the night, yet our intrepid niece and boyfriend who had stopped by our house in Rochester managed to get to Albany and stayed with us. The persistence and strength of youth.

We made it back later that Monday Rochester had been spared – passing thru the area heading back we could see water lines half way up trees and buildings, houses having been wiped out and floated down stream, cars inside houses fro the current that swept thru the area.  It was scary and made u srealize how serious these things can be, unless you see it for yourself you may never understand.

Thank you Steve Simon, and your cast of dreamers. You did it, I know it hurt the pocketbook/wallet but you knew it was going to (but not THAT much) . Be proud that you managed to keep us all safe, that you provided us with a fantastic show – the likes we may never see again. Know that we still love you and that you will always be ‘framily’ to us all.

This is very large gallery, I tried to put it into two but it just didn’t feel right.  I wanted to keep a semi-chronological order to the snaps to give a timeline feeling. I hope you enjoy them.

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Until next time,
Love, Peace & Chicken Grease
chefjimi
©Blues411.com  2012
Where Blues Thrives
Photos by: Leslie K. Joseph

***to read my post shortly after the event please go here:   http://blues411.com/?p=2364

** an interview with Steve Simon before Bluestock: http://blues411.com/?p=2309