The ExploreGeorgia.org Songwriter Series kicks off with a showcase of road-tested Georgia music veterans who channel the sounds of the South through their distinctive, richly textured voices. Blueswoman EG Kight, fiddler Levi Lowrey and soul-man Greg Hester start the show at 8 p.m. on Friday, July 29, at the historic Dublin Carnegie, located at 314 Academy Avenue in Dublin. Admission is $15 in advance and $20 at the door. Buy tickets here.
All of these artists are Georgia natives with deep roots in the region’s fertile ground of blues, country and soul, but their critical accolades and wide-ranging fan base transcend the state’s boundaries. Separately, they each offer something singular to please every fan of homegrown music, and at some point, expect them to harmonize together and rattle the rafters in a songwriters’ round.
“It’s rare that I get the chance to perform at home,” says Kight, who grew up in Dublin and currently tends a goat farm there. “I’ll be singing songs from some of my past albums, including a few songs that were nominated for a blues award for Song of the Year. I’ll also sing some new ones that I’ve just written. I’ve been in an Americana/blues mood lately, and it’s been cool to be writing in a little different style.” Kight’s grandmother taught young Eugenia Gail how to play guitar when she was five. “I always had a doll in one hand and a guitar in the other,” she recalls. She has released seven critically acclaimed albums and written material that has been recorded by her longtime mentor Koko Taylor, as well as Dorothy Moore, Saffire—The Uppity Blues Women, and others. Known for her belting, growling delivery, Kight has been nicknamed the “Georgia Songbird.” King Biscuit magazine writes: “Equal measures of sensuality and grit filter through an appealing Southern drawl when this lady sings the blues.” Kight received the Georgia Music Legend award in 2013. “Being a blueswoman is like fine wine – it gets better with age,” she says with a grin. “I look forward to the day when women are welcomed with open arms to share the stages equally.” She relishes the opportunity to swap some licks and lyrics with Hester and Lowrey. “I know I’ll be in great company,” Kight says.
Levi Lowrey is a scion of roots-music royalty. He is the great-great grandson of fiddling virtuoso Gid Tanner, who led the pioneering string band, The Skillet Lickers. Lowrey has recorded five albums, including his most recent, the double-length Roots and Branches. The “roots” of the album’s title refers to 11 songs made famous in the late 1920s and early ‘30s by Tanner. Lowery also co-wrote the No. 1 Zac Brown Band hit, “Colder Weather,” and has appeared on numerous ZBB projects. His solo work, though, is influenced more by his bluegrass and Americana roots, heavy on the raw, honest lyrics, with the rueful sensibility of a backslid Baptist. When he’s not on the road, Levi can usually be found on Friday nights at the Chicken House in Dacula, where four generations descended from Tanner, a chicken farmer by trade, gather to play old-time music with friends and fellow musicians, the way it has been done for decades. Lowrey savors the sense of community that can be forged through music. “That was the beginning of music,” he says. “Before you had records being sold and the commercialization of music, it was primarily a get-together. That was the reason for it. It always belonged in a community. I feel we’ve lost sight of that. Now it’s about record sales and touring and concerts and things of that nature. I don’t get quite as much fulfillment from that as I do sitting around on the front porch playing with a bunch of guys.” If you’re a fan, expect some worthwhile face-time with him in Dublin. “I’m never tried to be any kind of superstar who disappears right before or right after the show,” he says. “I’m the guy who’s going to hang out with you all night long.”
Greg Hester has been writing and performing for more than 30 years and describes his music as “country soul.” In addition to his solo work, he performs in Street Choir, a tribute to Van Morrison, the Northern Irish musician whom his voice is often compared to. Hester grew up in Augusta, and has shared the stage with Leon Russell, Johnny Winter, Sharon Jones, Warren Zevon, John Popper, Jimmy Hall, Ivan Neville, and The James Brown Band just to name a few. He recently released Soul Brother Where Art Thou!, a project he’d envisioned shortly after Brown’s passing in 2006. Backed by former Brown band members including longtime guitarist Keith Jenkins, Hester delivers scorching vocal versions of Brown’s classic songs with guest artists including Ivan Neville, Jimmy Hall of Wet Willie, Col. Bruce Hampton, and others. A review by Rope-a-Dope magazine notes: “His approach to soul is clearly influenced by the greatest, the magnificent Mr. James Brown, and yet is also clearly Southern in style. No, not Texas, New Orleans, or even Alabama Southern. With a clear understanding of his heritage, Greg manages to bring a New South to us, an urban South that is as real as the haze on a hot summer day, and oh, does the man work it, as if Mr. Brown himself taught him the ropes.”
Another reason to attend this event: The evening of the concert is also the final date of Dublin Carnegie’s current exhibition, Shooting Stars: Kirk West’s Photographic Journey with The Allman Brothers and Others, which features a glimpse into the 40+ year career of rock ’n’ roll photographer, Kirk West. The Macon-based artist will be on hand during the show to greet guests and sign copies of his book, Les Brers, an insiders’ look into The Allman Brothers Band, for whom he served as longtime tour manager.
The beautiful Dublin Carnegie was built by Andrew Carnegie as a library in 1904 and listed on the National Registry of Historic Places. After an extensive restoration in 2013, the building reemerged as an event space and art gallery, and helps anchors Dublin’s vibrant downtown.
Upcoming concerts in the ExploreGeorgia.org Songwriter Series include:
Sat. August 20 at The Loft Green Room in Columbus
Jake Fussell, Marshall Ruffin and Alia Torres
Wed., Sept. 21 at Callanwolde Fine Arts Center in Atlanta
Randall Bramblett, Brent Cobb and Michelle Malone
Fri. Oct. 7 at the Albany Museum of Art in Albany
Cole Taylor, Travis Denning and Trea Landon
Sat. Nov. 19 at the Holly Theatre in Dahlonega
Pat Alger, Tony Arata and Amy Ray
Fri. Dec. 2 at the Douglass Theatre in Macon
Lloyd Buchanan, Ike Stubblefield and Lola Gulley
The ExploreGeorgia.org Songwriter Series is presented in partnership with: