Spoleto 2008 » Jazz, Blues & Roots Music

Bad Case of the Blues: The Voice of Wanda Johnson

A club-hopping series shining the limelight on charismatic Carolina blues/soul vocalist Wanda Johnson.

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What is it? A club-hopping series shining the limelight on charismatic Carolina blues/soul vocalist Wanda Johnson.

Why see it? Seasoned organizer Gary "Shrimp City Slim" Erwin — a longtime blues singer/pianist and proprietor of the annual Lowcountry Blues Bash series — has collaborated plenty with Johnson over the years, backing her on stage and recording with her on several albums. He refers to her as the "new voice of South Carolina soul and blues." Johnson and Erwin recently released a cool new 14-song album titled Hold What You Got — a follow-up to 2006's Natural Resource. Great stuff.

Who should go? Those who appreciate a gutsy, genuinely soulful voice and a swingin' beat.

Piccolo Jazz/Blues Series • $15 • May 24, June 7 at 8 p.m.; JB Pivots Beach Club, 1662 Savannah Hwy., West Ashley • May 25 at 8 p.m.; A Dough Re Mi Pizzeria, 1220 Ben Sawyer Blvd., Mt. Pleasant • June 6 at 4 p.m.; Mad River Bar & Grille, 32-B N. Market St. • (888) 374-2656




A Touch of Soul: Wanda Johnson warms the Piccolo Jazz/Blues series

She's performed at major blues festivals from Chicago to Italy. She's jammed with some of the finest blues and soul musicians in the Carolinas. She's made the Lowcountry her home base.

And this week, charismatic Carolina-based blues/soul vocalist Wanda Johnson kicks off a three-night, venue-hopping series as part of Piccolo Spoleto's Jazz/Blues series.

"I'm convinced that this young lady has the chops and panache to go wherever her musical career leads her," says Gary "Shrimp City Slim" Erwin, one of Johnson's longtime musical collaborators and local cheerleaders.

The Bad Case of the Blues series covers a lot of ground in the Charleston area — from the music room in A Dough Re Mi in Old Mt. Pleasant to the main room at downtown's busy Mad River venue in the Market to the stage at JB Pivots in West Ashley.

For several years, Erwin — a longtime blues singer/pianist and organizer of the Lowcountry Blues Bash series — has collaborated with Johnson at shows and in recording studios. He refers to her as the "new voice of South Carolina soul and blues."

Johnson and Erwin recently released a cool new 14-song collection titled Hold What You Got — an upbeat, swingin' follow-up to 2006's Natural Resource. The disc enjoyed an official release at the 2008 Southern Comfort Lowcountry Blues Bash in Charleston in February. Blues Revue's Thomas Cullen called the new album "a triumphant low-key gem that's simultaneously tough and tender."

Originally from Anderson, Johnson honed her skills in the '90s and developed a strong voice. She writes hearty original material that draws from various musical styles.

Johnson's backing band includes Erwin on keyboards, Silent Eddie Phillips on guitar, LaMont Garner on drums, and Jerome Griffin on electric bass. Blues fans will surely get down at these events.

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