Jazz Roots: blues legend James Cotton and Shemekia Copeland brought the Winspear Opera House down

September 10th, 2010 10:28 am CT
Marilee Vergati
Dallas Events Examiner

Rosen's Jazz Series: Jazz Roots brings music legends like the high energy James Cotton to the Dallas AT&T Performing Arts Center. Last night "Superharp" Cotton and his Blues Band had the fans rocking to "Got My Mojo Workin," "Ain't Doin' Too Bad," "Easy Loving," and "Trouble No More." With Cotton's virtuoso down and dirty harp playing and blasting sound, Darrell Nulisch, vocals, Tom Holland, guitar; vocals; Michael Coleman, guitar, Noel Neal, bass and Kenny Neal, Jr. drums, plus a sick keyboardist on a Hammond B3 organ the music more than filled the performance hall—it tested its nuts and bolts.

The evening opened with Shemekia Copeland strutting on stage and belting out "Dirty Water." "Well I don't need you hangin' round my door; tryin' to drag me back down to the shore...and I ain't gonna drink your dirty water no more…baby you have the kind of love I can't afford…" It was slow, sexy and then powerful with hard driving rhythms. With a commanding voice compared to Koko Taylor and Elta James she impressed the fans and took them on a blues tour. Copeland's blues-rock, Delta Blues and Memphis soul blues ended with "Ghetto Child" written by her late father bluesman Johnny Copeland. "Little girl standin' on the corner; somebody, please won't you lend a hand? I'm just the ghetto child in this so-called, in this so-called free land." She brought the audience to their feet and her performance paved the way for the title "Queen of Blues."

Surprisingly the Winspear Opera House was nearly filled. Tropical storm Hermine moved through Texas with record rains. Four tornadoes touched down in or near Dallas. Driving to the concert in the pouring rain, listening to sirens and turning on the radio for locations and twister sightings was harrowing. Texans take their blues seriously. Sirens went off an hour before the concert and fans were herded into the hall while the musicians were setting up. As it turned out the new Winspear Opera House was safe from tornadoes, but the blues legend James "Superharp" Cotton and Shemekia Copeland brought the house down.