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Back to Section One | Back to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, June 8, 2012 - Volume 40 Issue 23
Copeland works her magic at Jazz Alley
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Copeland works her magic at Jazz Alley

by Albert Rodriguez - SGN A&E Writer

SHEMEKIA COPELAND
DIMITRIOU'S JAZZ ALLEY
June 2


Seattle folks do get the blues. In fact, a roomful of us got a good dose of them last weekend when Shemekia Copeland performed at Dimitriou's Jazz Alley.

In the first of two sets on Saturday night, Copeland got off to a fiery start with a rock-tinged version of 'Dirty Water.' Wearing black pants and a matching thigh-length blouse with glittery bling on her right wrist, the Harlem native shook a mean shiny tambourine during that song. Further on, she went to town on a cow bell.

'I've got 987 songs about ex-boyfriends,' she joked with the audience. 'And nobody gets to leave here until I do all of them.' With that, Copeland segued directly into 'Givin' Up You,' though a notch better was a run-through of 'Circumstances' that featured terrific guitar playing from Willie Scandlyn and Arthur Neilson.

It was the artist's slow, simmering rendition of 'Married to the Blues' that stood out in her 90-minute set, proving that hearing Copeland in concert and listening to her CDs are two completely different experiences. On the subject of CDs, the acclaimed performer, who has opened for the Rolling Stones among others, announced to the Jazz Alley crowd that a new album is scheduled for September release.

'Put those chicken wings down and put your hands together!' shouted Copeland, as she reeled off several jumpy numbers, including 'Rise Up,' 'Pie in the Sky,' and 'Never Going Back to Memphis,' which she humorously described as a song all about how she'd never be going back to Memphis.

I loved the spunk and the glee that radiated from Copeland - she was unabashed and comical yet naturally comfortable on stage, which allowed the entire performance to go smoothly. The daughter of noted blues-roots musician Johnny Copeland, she told everyone that growing up in Harlem during the '80s and '90s almost got her into a career in hip-hop. 'Luckily, I sucked at that,' she said.

Copeland closed out the main set with 'Ghetto Child,' walking away from the microphone midway through while still belting out the chorus. She then stepped off the stage and weaved around the entire venue, still singing without a mic. Copeland even told a couple having dinner in a booth to 'scoot over, baby.'

A well-earned standing ovation capped the evening and sent Copeland to her dressing room, only to return a few minutes later to wail on the gospel-inspired number 'Big Brand New Religion.'

Just 33 years old, Shemekia Copeland is far from over. This bad mama has only just begun.

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