Alabama Music Office.com goes to the Bama Theatre in downtown Tuscaloosa, Alabama for performances by Wet Willie and Bad Brad & The Sipsey Slims playing for the Alabama Blues Project Benefit.
Wet Willie hits Bama Theatre for Alabama Blues Project Benefit By Mark Hughes Cobb Tusk Editor Published: Friday, September 7, 2012
The blues has a range wider than three major chords and a good man feeling bad. Most people who say they play blues really mix in a combo platter of soul, R&B and other sounds, like Brad Guin, the sax man from north Tuscaloosa County. Guin has put together tonight's show featuring classic-rock-blues-soul-R&B band Wet Willie and his own original music project, Bad Brad and the Sipsey Slims.
"I'm a coordinator for the Alabama Blues Project, so they told me, 'Let's do something big,' " Guin said. "I got to thinking about who I'd like to do a show with it, somebody who hadn't been here in a long time."
Guin played in the Alabama Music Hall of Fame band when that group inducted Jimmy Hall, front man for Wet Willie as lead singer. Like Guin, Hall plays sax when he's not singing, in addition to harmonica.
"We called 'em and got it going on. They've been playing all around — Mobile, Atlanta, Nashville — but nobody's booked 'em here. For an Alabama band, they don't play in Alabama all that much," Guin said.
Wet Willie came out of Mobile in the '70s. Throughout that decade, Wet Willie cut high-energy, funky Southern rock for Capricorn Records, along with a greatest hits disc for Polydor and a couple of studio albums for Epic. The band's biggest hit was the infectious "Keep on Smilin'," but they also charted and found airply with "Country Side of Life," "Leona," "Dixie Rock," "Everything That 'Cha Do (Will Come Back to You)," "Street Corner Serenade" and "Weekend." The 1973 live album "Drippin' Wet" was one of those live discs that everyone seemed to own on 8-track.
Their recording schedule dropped off after the '80s, when Hall went out on more solo work, recording with members of the Allman Brothers Band and the Rolling Stones, and adding vocals to guitar wizard Jeff Beck's 1986 disc "Flash," for which he was Grammy nominated. Hall has also perfomed as bandleader, vocalist, saxophonist and harmonica player for Hank Williams Jr., with Stevie Ray Vaughan's old band Double Trouble, and his own groups Prisoners of Love and Deep South. In 2007, Hall cut a tribute to the late Tuscaloosa-born singer-songwriter Eddie Hinton, called "Build Your Own Fire," featuring Muscle Shoals musicians and guest vocalist Delbert McClinton. Although he stays busy with those and other projects, Hall continues to front his friends and family — his brother Jack Hall plays bass, and their sister Donna Hall is one of the harmony singers — in Wet Willie.
"Jimmy Hall's voice gets better with age, which is crazy," Guin said. "He's just one of those rare cases."
The show, a benefit for the ABP's blues education after-school program, starts at 8:30, although doors to the Bama Theatre open at 7:30. Tickets are available online through Brown Paper Tickets for $25, or at the door of the Bama.
By Mark Hughes Cobb Tusk Editor Published: Friday, September 7, 2012 at 3:30 a.m. Last Modified: Thursday, September 6, 2012 at 2:22 p.m.