The Shemekia Copeland Band
Brings More Red Hot Blues to Ringwood
A Feature Article by Rich and Laura Lynch

Red hot blues are becoming a 2014 trend for the New Legacy Concert Series in Ringwood, NJ with two great blues ladies gracing its stage in recent months. On Sunday April 6, 2014 Shemekia Copeland presented a searing set.

The Shemekia Copeland Band Brings More Red Hot Blues to Ringwood, NJ
The Shemekia Copeland Band on stage at the New Legacy Concert Series.

Shemekia is a well respected singer in the blues community. Copeland was born in Harlem, NY where she heard the sounds of gospel singers, radios and street performers that wove their influences into her music. Also, her father was the late Texas blues guitar legend Johnny Clyde Copeland. Shemekia released her first record Turn the Heat Up! in 1998. It received rave reviews followed by more acclaimed albums. In 2013, 33 1/3 was nominated for a Best Blues Album Grammy and Copeland was inducted into the New York Blues Hall of Fame.

"I want to be innovative with the blues," states Shemekia who continues to grow as an artist. Copeland with her band is on tour for much of 2014, which included a stop at the New Legacy Concert Series in Ringwood, New Jersey. Shemekia opened strong with "It's Over", a snappy number about heartbreak. Copeland was a commanding presence both visually and vocally as she swayed to her own soul filled singing. The song concluded with a fine slide guitar solo.

"Thank you so very much for being here," said Shemekia. Copeland commented on the fact that she was playing a gig in a library in the afternoon jesting that she would actually have time to read a book afterwards. She continued that she has written many songs about ex-boyfriends. The next tune was in that vein touching upon the idea of giving up things that are not good for you. "I'm Giving Up You" had a funky feel, daring drum patterns topped off with Shemekia's power packed vocals.

Copeland chatted between songs, sharing stories that she admitted did not have anything to do with the music that she was playing. However, her tales were entertaining and effective in connecting to the crowd on different levels. "Married To The Blues" was a slower, serious tune with a heavy rhythm setting the mood as the piece progressed from pensive to potent.

Copeland mentioned that she had worked with Dr. John, which flowed into the saucy "Too Much Traffic" from that collaboration. This version featured fine fret work from both Arthur and Willie who were spot on all afternoon. Shemekia continued to add her commentary mentioning people who love Jesus so much but hate everybody else. The next up-tempo revival from the band touched upon that hypocrisy. "I Ain't Gonna Be Your Tattoo" was a bold, blues tune filled with big notes with a rousing warning against repeating bad life patterns especially in relationships.

The Shemekia Copeland Band Brings More Red Hot Blues to Ringwood, NJ
Shemekia Copeland belts out the blues in Ringwood.

Shemikia expressed her concern that she does not know how to dance but still wanted to craft songs that "makes me want to shake my booty". She asked the crowd to clap and sing along to the peppy "Pie In The Sky". Copeland talked about attending her Grandma's church when she was a child This thought led into the spirited "Stand Up and Testify" where Copeland baptized the audience with this gospel inspired rocker. She got fans on their feet finishing the feisty song with the remark that "you can have church anywhere".

Shemikia mentioned that her father was a blues man. Copeland grew up around that type of music whereas her classmates were into hip-hop and Whitney Houston. She honored her Dad by performing one of his songs - an old school blues tune with dueling guitars. During the track, Copeland walked out into the audience, greeting people as she sang deep down from her soul. Their encore was "Its 2 AM" a blazing ballad about a cheating man.

"Roller coaster" was the description Shemikia used to describe the RPL show as fans were quiet yet also excited and willing to make some noise. Copeland and her very capable band presented a set of red hot blues and a bit of church at this Sunday afternoon show.

The New Legacy Concert Series at the Ringwood Public Library has been hosting shows such as Shemekia Copeland since 2002. Amy Helm, Dar Williams, Grace Potter, Jorma Kaukonen, Marcia Ball, Richie Havens and The Subdudes are just some of the distinctive musicians who have performed at the RPL. The vibe at the New Legacy Concert Series is welcoming. Often artists, as Shemekia did, stay after the event to meet and sign things for patrons.

The Shemekia Copeland Band: Shemekia Copeland - vocals / Arthur Neilson - lead guitar / Kevin Jenkins - bass / Robin Gould - drums / Willie Scandlyn - rhythm guitar

The Shemekia Copeland Band Brings More Red Hot Blues to Ringwood, NJ
The Shemekia Copeland featured two guitarists and a solid rhythm section.

Related Links: For more information on SHEMEKIA COPELAND and the other organizations mentioned please visit the following links - Shemekia Copeland | New Legacy Concerts

(Originally Published on April 08, 2014)




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