Beverly "Guitar" Watkins looks frail. After all, she is in her 70's and has been performing for well over 50 years. She has beat cancer twice and has just recovered from a serious illness.
But then she takes the stage and this transformation takes place. Beverly Watkins becomes a blues machine. This is why her middle name is "Guitar."
She growls. She plays the guitar behind her head. She fronts her excellent new band with absolute authority and grace on the stage.
"I don't work as hard as I used to," she tells me. "I don't have to. I done done it."
Yes she has and no she doesn't, but when she is on the stage she is still working plenty hard enough. She plaafys for 2 hours before we have to leave, and after we left she played some more. Yes, she lets bass player Shane Dwight take a lead vocal or two (and he is really good,) and each band member gets a chance to show their stuff on keyboards, bass and drum, but it is still definitely Ms. Beverly's show and she shines just like she always has. She does a mixture of her own original songs and covers like a delightful instrumental on "Misty" and the soulful "You Send Me, " which she kindly dedicated to me and my husband, "my friends up here at the front."
But of course it was that great bit of showmanship on "The Thrill Is Gone" that really floored the audience. In the first place, she plays that song every bit as well as B.B. King himself. But then she comes off the stage and plays some of it with the guitar behind her head like Jimi Hendrix. Of course, it was an old blues man's trick that Hendrix appropriated, and it is only fair that a blues woman uses it now. And what a visual and aural treat it is!
Beverly "Guitar" Watkins is phenomenal woman. When I think of Maya Angelou's great poem of that name, it is Ms. Beverly that I think of.
Go to see her when you can. If you aren't a fan, you will be.
I want to take a moment right here to add that Stephen "BluesDude" Duncan did a great job opening for Watkins and to thank Darwin's for adding him to the entertainment. He is always a delight