Saturday, February 27, 2010

Janiva Magness. WOW!

As a general rule Weisenheimer buys into the notion that live music beats the recorded variety. In the case of Janiva Magness, the CDs are marvelous, and we own several of them, but we learned this week that her live show is mind-bogglingly fantastic.

Magness played at Dimitriou's Jazz Alley Tuesday and Wednesday, turning the place into Smokin' Hot Blues Alley for a couple of nights. And damn, Magness is an incredible talent. A three-time winner of the Contemporary Blues Female Artist of the Year award from the Blues Foundation, she's up for the award again at the 31st annual Blues Music Awards coming up in Memphis in May. It's easy to see why. Magness has incredible pipes, passion, and range in her singing, and a great stage presence to boot.

I wasn't keeping notes, but a couple of moments stood out. First was the moving ballad "You Were Never Mine" from her 2006 album Do I Move You? Second was a great story she told about Taj Mahal and his opinion about the muscle tone of her arms. Third was the finale of her set, an incredible story about and tribute to Koko Taylor during a rollicking rendition of the classic "Wang Dang Doodle." The tune highlighted Magness' ability to tell a great story, and put on a theatrically great performance, with the band gradually picking up in volume as Janiva described Taylor climbing to the stage for one of her final performances. Taylor, Queen of the Blues, passed away last June. It was an amazing piece and wrapped up one of the most entertaining live music shows Weisenheimer has ever attended. I certainly pitched a wang dang doodle all night long!

Don't despair for missing these shows. Magness will be back in Seattle for a show at Highway 99 Blues Club April 17. Her new album, The Devil is an Angel Too, will be released April 13 on Alligator Records.

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