As temperatures hovered around zero degrees, Shemekia Copeland heated up the concert hall inside the Music Box Supper Club Sunday evening with a sizzling 90-minute set that brought the crowd to its feet. The Alligator Records artist is still touring behind her Grammy-nominated album 33 1/3, which was released on her former label, the Cleveland-based Telarc/Concord Music Group, in 2012.
Her stellar backing band consisting of Ken “Willie” Scandlyn (guitar), Kevin Jenkins (bass), Robin Gould III (drums), and longtime collaborator Arthur Neilson (guitar) started off with the somewhat overly covered Lucinda Williams song “Can’t Let Go,” which Copeland recorded for her last record. Mixing up humorous stories between the song selections gave the audience a glimpse of the warm-hearted Copeland and added that extra touch you can’t hear when listening to the records at home.
The gorgeous Supper Club concert hall made a perfect setting for a romantic Valentine’s weekend performance, as Copeland offered up selections “Lemmon Pie,” "Married to the Blues,” a rocking version of “Somebody Else’s Jesus,” “Big Loving Woman,” “I Ain’t Going to Be Your Tattoo,” “Pie in the Sky,” and “Mississippi Mud.” She resurrected the spirit of Koko Taylor during “Has Anybody Seen My Man,” before laying down the law on “Never Going Back to Memphis.” She took the audience to her Grandma Jessie’s church with “Stand Up to Testify,” before bring down the house with “Ghetto Child,” written by her father, Johnny Copeland. She walked through the entire room singing alone without a microphone during a portion of the chorus, then closed out the evening with “It’s 2AM, Do You Know Where Your Baby Is?”
Opening the show was Cleveland’s own Blues Chronicles, featuring Reese Black (vocals/harmonica), Al Moses (guitar), and Nicola Marchi (upright bass), who did a nice job as part of the night’s entertainment package.