Hammer In Her Hand
February 15, 2016 9:20 AM   Subscribe

Beverly “Guitar” Watkins is seventy-six years old. She is wearing house slippers, a hair net, and an Atlanta Hawks t-shirt on backwards. She is probably the greatest living blues guitarist that no one has ever heard of.

Watkins learned to play guitar as a child and began playing professionally while still in high school. In the 1960s, she played on recordings that inspired a generation of white rock & rollers, toured with bands across North America and Europe, opened for Ray Charles and James Brown and B.B. King. She caught the early wave of soul music, crashed on the sandbar of disco, brushed herself off, and kept on going. She reinvented herself as a solo artist at fifty, recorded her first album at sixty, survived multiple brushes with death, and did it all almost completely without celebration, peer, or precedent.

And she’s still doing it.

Extended video interview with Watkins here

Beverly Watkins page at the Music Maker Relief Foundation (the foundation previously on Metafilter).

Live performances

Back in Business

Glory Be

Live in Paris, 2007

Beverly "Guitar" Watkins' 76th Birthday Show

"Shown here playing at Rufty-Holmes Senior Center": Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4

Beverly "Guitar" Watkins - Rhythm Riot 2013

At the Northside Tavern, 2014
posted by mandolin conspiracy (14 comments total) 105 users marked this as a favorite
Posts like this are why I keep coming back. Bravo.
posted by NedKoppel at 9:36 AM on February 15, 2016 [8 favorites]

Hot damn!
posted by kozad at 9:48 AM on February 15, 2016 [1 favorite]

I was having a shitty day, then I saw this post and it has made my day. I have seen her at Blind Willie's and she is amazing. An Atlanta treasure.
posted by dudemanlives at 9:50 AM on February 15, 2016 [3 favorites]

This reminds me a bit of Ava DuVernay's first movie, I Will Follow, which was about a woman dealing with her late aunt's house and estate and stuff (with some time hopping to interact with her aunt, as well). Her late aunt was a session drummer in LA. It's a really lovely, beautiful movie, and her aunt is badass and awesome.
posted by ChuraChura at 10:18 AM on February 15, 2016 [2 favorites]

Well dang, looks like she just played Blind Willie's on Saturday and I missed it. I hope she'll be back in March, I'll have to keep an eye out.
posted by biogeo at 10:23 AM on February 15, 2016

I was remiss in omitting the "Atlanta" tag. I have rectified that.
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 10:58 AM on February 15, 2016

This is wonderful. Thanks for posting this.
posted by layceepee at 11:04 AM on February 15, 2016

Nice taste in Fenders too.
posted by colie at 11:18 AM on February 15, 2016 [1 favorite]

She is probably the greatest living blues guitarist that no one has ever heard of.
Logically speaking, this sentence would be very hard to refute.
posted by Wolfdog at 11:22 AM on February 15, 2016 [1 favorite]

omg this woman has a tight blues groove. That is one of the hardest grooves to get a band to play that cleanly.

“It’s in her hands,” Dudeck says. “When you hear that one note, people turn their heads, your jaw drops. You can write poetry about it, but you can’t really say why it was so important. She does that.”

YES. Wow. That there is true musicianship. Thanks so much for this post, it's made my otherwise shitty day as well!
posted by fraula at 11:46 AM on February 15, 2016 [2 favorites]

My god, wow. Wow.
posted by rtha at 12:46 PM on February 15, 2016

This should have been a y2karl post. :-)

Being in the northwest it is easy to understand how he missed this enormous talent.
posted by nofundy at 1:17 PM on February 15, 2016

Beautiful post. Amazing artist. Thank you!
posted by spitbull at 3:33 PM on February 15, 2016

This is amazing. She makes that look and sound effortless. And what a groove.

Thanks for this!
posted by biscotti at 1:34 AM on February 16, 2016

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