An artist to watch: Cody Matlock at Darwin’s, Sandy Springs GA, Dec. 30, 2017

Let’s talk about Cody Matlock.

There he is, on the stage at Darwin’s. two days after his 22nd birthday. He’s already a seasoned performer. His dad hauled him around to play Atlanta clubs when he was 13 We first saw him at 16, when he seemed shy on stage and didn’t sing much, just letting his already amazing guitar playing speak for him. Now, how different this confident, funny, brilliant singer, musician, and bandleader seems!

On this day, Cody and the band have the largest crowd they have ever had at Darwin’s. where Cody plays every Thursday. The place is packed with mostly 20-somethings. With Robert and Bandon Boone on bass and drums, Michael Westbrooks (with his irresistible grin) on keyboards, Tony Erice on bongos and extra-special guest Truett Lollis adding his guitar to Cody’s, the sound is amazing. Cody and the gang easily handle blues, soul, funk, and R’nB with ease and enthusiasm. They play original tunes like “Get Up and Do Your Thing” and Cody sings and plays awesome covers like one of my favorite songs, Sam Cooke’s “Bring It On Home to Me” and a spine-tingling version of “Purple Rain.” He says that one is for his mom, who is at the show.

Cody has promised my husband and me that when he is playing large venues and amphitheaters, he will “hook us up.” I have always believed in his talent, his determination, and that those combined with good looks and charm would take him far. That is why I included him (and Truett) in my book, Southern Crossroads: Georgia Blues As he is now playing all the major Atlanta clubs, I expect that to happen any day and I fully intend to hold him to it.In the meantime, Saturday at Darwin’s, he and The Mothership put on a show on a par with any I’ve ever seen.

Cody  Matlock

Atlanta Blues Society Holiday Party was festive fun Dec. 3

Atlanta Blues Society Holiday Party was festive fun Dec. 3

Rhetta Akamatsu

It’s the party Atlanta Blues Society members look forward to all year, and this year as always, it lived up to expectations! The Atlanta Blues Society Holiday Party took place at the Helene S. Carter Multipurpose Facility in Atlanta, with loads of space for tables, food, drink and dancing and a big stage.

The tables were decorated with festive centerpieces and a lot of them had Christmas Headgear on them, which was a genius move because the room certainly looked festive with all those Santa hats and holiday headbands! My husband and I shared ours!


There was free food from Fat Matt’s for members, which means we had the best barbecue chicken and pork in Atlanta, plus delicious sides and cookies! There were tea and water and for a minimal fee Spike from Blind Willie’s would provide you with beer, wine or a mixed drink.

The music was fantastic and let the dancers really show their moves. We had the winners of the Atlanta Blues Challenge play for us, starting with People’s Choice winners, the dynamic Danu Mac and Co. After them cane band winners ThunderGypsy who kept the momentum rolling right into our favorite Youth Group, repeat winners No Solution. They are repeat winners, and yet the oldest members of the group are 16 years old!

KODAK Digital Still Camera

No Solution led to the last music of the evening, with Dos Blues Guys, who are also repeat winners, but Bennie Mobley made sure everyone was still alert and paying attention to them with the best holiday stagewear I have ever seen! They then proceeded to give us a set that blended originals from Andy Johnson and Bennie, with some hot guitar and that unmistakable harmonica.

Blues people are huggy people, generally speaking, and some of us had not seen each other in months, so there was a lot of hugging and talking and smiling, as there is in the best holiday parties. And that is what this was: one of the best holiday parties! And we contributed several huge boxes of toys to the Marin Corps’ Toys For Tots, the Society’s 20th year of participation in that program.

If you are interested in learning more about the Atlanta Blues Society and how you can join, visit the website for all the info you need!

Blues on the Block Festival – Darwin’s Burgers and Blues, October 27-29, 2017

Darwins Blues on the Block Festival got off to a great start on Friday with Poverty Level, The Way Back Band, and The Markey Blue Ric Latina Project. We missed Poverty Level because of work but thoroughly enjoyed The Way Back Band’s interpretations of hits from the past, announced in fabulous DJ style by drummer Tony Lee Williams. “Please, Mr. Postman” really did take me way back and had me dancing in my seat!

Way Back Band

Then Markey Blue, Ric Latina, and the band hit the stage. We adore these guys and had already got to exchange enthusiastic greetings before the show. There was a good crowd and as always, they wowed everybody.

Markey Blue Ric Latina Project

Saturday the weather was a nasty surprise. Suddenly it turned bitterly cold and rainy. Stephen”Bluesdude” Duncan bravely performed his set as scheduled at the outdoor stage, delivering his excellent acoustic Americana on banjo, ranging from Flatt and Scruggs to my favorite Dylan song, “You Ain’t Goin’ Nowhere,” to an audience of exactly three… me, my husband and our friend Kelli. Stephen deserves a commendation and we love him.

While outside. we picked up some delicious barbecue from oricuaSmokehouse, Then we trooped in and found other people huddled in the comfortable dryness. We had a drink to warm up while we listened to the Atlanta Blues Challenge Youth group, No Solution. These teenagers really know how to sing the blues. From that point on, every of Bean and Bear Studios, who was selling delicious boiled peanuts.

Stephen “Bluesdude” Duncan

We were thrilled to see one of our favorite groups, Chickens and Pigs. We love Jeff Evans’ lyrics and laconic style.  He and his bandmates always make me happy.

After a cute puppetry skit from Bean and Bear, it was time for my favorite local group, The Cazanovas, to take the stage. every time I have ever seen this group they have been excellent. Maurice Nazarro is one of my favorite harmonica players and vocalists and Danny Vinson is an amazing guitarist. The entire band is great, and adding Valerie Waters on keyboards has made them even more dynamic. They were joined by special guest Jeff Baker for several songs, which was a delight.

The Cazanovas

At this point, we had to leave and missed Mark Hummel’s Golden State Lone Star Revue.

Sunday was dry but terribly cold. My husband was exhausted and I can’t drive so we had to miss this year’s Atlanta Blues Challenge winners ThunderGypsy, The Blues Hearts, Wavetree and Andy T and Alabama Mike with Anson Funderburgh. My friend Barb, who was there all day, t9ld me that ThunderGypsy was great, with Heather Stratham  really “belting it out.” Wavetree, she said, was excellent,” with a very diverse set from Buddy Guy to the Allman Brothers to Zappa. ” As for Andy T with Alabama Mike & Anson Funderburgh, she reports that they were “awesome. They played their hearts out and they all were so talented and so tight, a blues lover could not have asked for more.”

It’s a real shame more people let the weather keep them away, but those of us that were there for any part of it had a great time, with good friends, food and drink, and wonderful music!