William Bell, the original “soul man” and co-writer of one of the most covered songs in blues/rock music history, is bringing his 10-piece band back to Savannah to kick off the Savannah Music Festival's 30th season.
"Georgia Soul & Blues," featuring Bell and up-and-coming young artist Jontavious Willis, will take place at 7:30 p.m. Nov. 9 at the Lucas Theatre, 32 Abercorn St. Tickets are $30 and are available now at savannahmusicfestival.org. The lineup for the 2019 Savannah Music Festival will also be announced Nov. 9, with tickets going on sale at 10 a.m.
Bell has enjoyed a distinguished career as a singer, songwriter and producer since his 1961 solo debut for Stax Records, which became one of the label’s first major hits. He co-wrote the blues classic “Born Under a Bad Sign,” which was later made popular by both Albert King and Cream, and in the decades since, his songs have been recorded by such diverse artists as Linda Ronstadt, Rod Stewart and Etta James.
In 2016, Bell teamed up with producer John Leventhal (Rosanne Cash, Rodney Crowell, Shawn Colvin) to record his first album in 30 years, for which he won a Grammy Award. The Atlanta-based musician is a member of the Georgia Music Hall of Fame, and last wowed SMF audiences with a performance at the sold-out North Garden Assembly Room at Ships of the Sea Museum in 2017. (Read Do's review of that show here.)
Referred to by Taj Mahal as “a great new voice of the 21st century in the acoustic blues,” 22-year-old Willis grew up singing gospel music at church with his grandfather. At the age of 14, the Greenville, Ga., native got hooked on the blues when he came across a YouTube video of Muddy Waters playing “Hoochie Coochie Man.” He promptly started teaching himself the guitar, harmonica, banjo and cigar box, and just four years later, he was playing on Taj Mahal’s stage. In 2016, Willis released his debut album "Blue Metamorphosis," which won him a Best Self-Produced CD award from the Blues Foundation earlier this year.