Beverly “Guitar” Watkins – ‘Do The Breakdown’

I love this for many reasons. It provides us with a look into the late Beverly “Guitar” Watkins. It takes us back to the funk era, and although she’s no longer with us, hearing her play and perform makes me feel like she’s still here.

Here’s a little history about Ms. Watkins. She was born in 1939 and played with James Brown, B.B. King, and Ray Charles. The New York Times noted that she captivated crowds by “playing her electric guitar on her back and behind her head, sliding across the stage. When she sang, it was often with a growl.”

She nicknamed her guitars Red Mama and Sugar Baby, releasing her debut solo album Back In Business at the age of 60, earning a W.C. Handy Blues Award nomination, opening a 42-date tour for Taj Mahal, and late performing at Lincoln Center.

‘Do The Breakdown’ is off her first live album, ‘In Paris‘, which was released by Music Maker Foundation on March 18.

The recording, made to a rapturous crowd in 2012, also features Albert White (Elvin Bishop, Clarence Carter, Ben E. King, Ray Charles, Joe Tex) on guitar, Eddie Tigner (leader of the Ink Spots) on organ and piano, and Lil Joe Burton (Tex, Bobby Womack, Otis Clay, B.B. King) on trombone. She pays tribute to Ray Charles here with a rendition of “What’d I Say.” Watkins even plays harmonica on one track.

It’s the history for me!