Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Uppity Blues Women

Saffire, the Uppity Blues Women recently gave their final farewell concert as a group, in their hometown of Fredericksburg, VA – and I got to go! The show was held on the University of Mary Washington campus, which provided me with a trip down memory lane, since I spent 4 years studying there when it was still called a college. Although a stately college auditorium is an odd fit for blues concert, the ladies of Saffire seemed quite at home playing for a full house of friends and fans from near and far, supporters from their 25 year history, and luminaries of the blues world. In the course of the evening, the tremendous trio was showered with accolades, bouquets of flowers and thundering rounds of well-earned applause.

Over the past quarter century, Ann Rabson, Gaye Adegbalola, and Andra Faye have taken Saffire from a largely local group in Central Virginia, to an internationally respected cornerstone of acoustic blues. Their impressive talents were all in fine form on Saturday night, all three showing off their abilities on multiple instruments, as vocalists and songwriters, and performers extraordinaire. The music was naughty and raucous, at times gentle and poignant, and touched on themes ranging from domestic abuse, to odes the generous attributes of the band members, and powerful anthems of pride and power. By far the greatest achievement of Saffire seems to be not only a deep musical catalogue in acoustic blues, but also the overreaching theme of empowerment that inhabits all their work. As their songs celebrate the empowerment of women, victims of domestic abuse, people of color, homosexuals, so they empower us all through the cleansing process of enlightenment. As they go on to other musical pursuits, I hope to catch each of the Saffire ladies playing their individual brands of joyfully naughty and Uppity music.

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