2019 – What a HOOT!

30 Dec

Such a Night, It’s Such a Night. So says Dr. John, and so was the 9th Annual Holiday Hootenanny. I am happy to announce that Atlanta Habitat for Humanity will receive $6,500 from the event! A special thanks goes out to our sponsors – McGriff Insurance Services, Springer Mountain Farms, Creature Comforts Brewing Co., Tito’s Vodka – and those who made private donations. Y’all really helped to make this one a magical event.

Every year I am blown away by the level of talent that IS the Atlanta music community. For the last nine years, we have come together to celebrate our community, the joy of being around those we love but don’t necessarily get to see very often, and we sprinkle the celebration with a few out of town guests who belong with the rest of us. Thus was the most recent edition of the Holiday Hootenanny.

From the first note of the evening courtesy of Jeff Sipe and The State Birds, I knew we were all in for quite a musical journey. Joined by Leah Calvert and Ike Stubblefield, the tone was established for the rest of the evening. As the State Birds concluded, Count M’Butu made his way out onto the stage, and although he is unable to shred the percussions, the man still captivates the stage with grace and dignity. He dug right into singing “Stormy Monday” followed by a story session while drums and percussion abound paying tribute to our good friend the late Yonrico Scott. Yonrico’s presence was felt all night.

Jim Lauderdale was on fire for his set, dropping to his knees towards the end as he was belting out song after song he co-wrote with the late Grateful Dead lyricist Robert Hunter. There was quite a lineup there supporting him from the get go as he went from acoustic to bluegrass to full on electric with horns and pedal steel. We’ve had the same players backing Jim each year on the electric front and it pays off to have that continuity.

The tribute to Johnny Knapp, carefully crafted by Jez Graham, was nothing short of phenomenal and reflected a true love of the man, the musician. Johnny was a very complicated jazz musician, and Jez portrayed that quality as fine as could be done. His tribute to Johnny went directly into a collection of songs led by Jez and Rev. Jeff Mosier that Johnny and Col. Bruce really enjoyed performing together, including Space is the Place, I’m So Glad (featuring Donna Hopkins on vocals and guitar). Ike Stubblefield returned to the stage for this segment as well. Needless to say, my jaw was dropped by this time.

The final set was a fitting way to end it, featuring Drew Emmitt and Vince Herman from Leftover Salmon, the great Larry Keel, Acoustic Syndicate’s Steve “Big Daddy” McMurry, Jason Carter from The Del McCoury Band, David Grisman Quintet alum Joe Craven, and so much more! Whereas a festival will bring everyone on stage for the finale, the 9th Holiday Hootenanny concluded with a 1 hr 20 min finale that included a lengthy drum/percussion session and some of the finest jams I’ve witnessed in a long time. Ralph Roddenbery came on stage to wrap up the evening with a rockin’ version of “Maude Only Knows”, co-written by Scott Mecredy and Michael Hurwitz and performed by Leftover Salmon. The stage was so full of love by the end of the night, and for that I am simply grateful.

I would have to say that Jingle Joe Craven was quite the X-Factor for the evening, adding his explosive fiddle to all facets of the evening. What a pleasure to have him on board for this year’s edition. The fact that we can have this caliber of musician, and I mean EVERYONE on board this year, each and every year of the Holiday Hootenanny bodes well for the future and longevity of this wonderful annual holiday occasion that has become our own holiday party. Happy New Year and can’t wait until the 10th Annual Holiday Hootenanny!

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