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Mwenso, Bettye LaVette, Sweet Honey

It has been several weeks since the new Highmark Blues & Heritage Festival, and the musical torrent has continued since. It’s one thing to write a quick blurb, and another to present some multimedia to go with the text.  Catching up is hard to do, but fun.

I rushed from WYEP to the August Wilson Center to introduce, then witness, Mwenso and the Shakes.  Their high-energy presentation crisscrossed genres, and every turn was unpredictable – roots, stride, reggae, show, …

Next up that Saturday evening was Bettye LaVette, who presented her songbook with weighting toward the new Bob Dylan cover project.  To me, the biggest highlight of the show (and I wish I had all of it on video) was the encore.  She came out with a fantastic a cappella and a rocker. (If you’d like to hear excerpts of my interview with Bettye, please check out the Oct. 4 blog.)

Sweet Honey in the Rock’s current lineup, after all of these years, still features two of the founders.  It’s notable that at least half of the shows I’ve seen since the beginning of 2017 bemoan our state of affairs, and this perennially socially conscious group brought that theme totally home.  Aside from that, their harmonies were exquisite.  The one musical instrument was a bass to cover the lowest registers.  

Next up: Somi, Migration Liberation Suite, Buika

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