Bessie’s life in blues brought back to life
REVIEW Empress of the Blues – A Tribute to Bessie Smith;
Thunderbolt, Totterdown, Bristol.
Some performers deserve to be known by more than their work.
Bessie Smith won fame as Empress of the Blues in the 1020’s, but
there was more to her life than money and fame.
She died in 1937, but 80 years on a good sized crowd were held rapt
at the Thunderbolt as Dave Merrick narrated her life story, from a
ragged upbringing in the American South, with the help of original
Bessie shot to fame because her unique vocal style could cut through
the limitations of 1920s recording technology.
But it was the live performances the Totterdown audience were
waiting for, and Natalie Davis on vocals, with Dave on guitar and
Brenan Whitmore on saxophone did not disappoint.
Renditions of I Need A Little Sugar in my Bowl, and ‘Taint Nobodies
Business If I Do made the magic of Bessie shine, from the slow
paced blues of the 1920s to the syncopated swing era of the 1030s –
showcased by a fascinating and still-exciting clip for St Louis Blues of