by Matt Bauer
While Western New York was getting its first winter blast, the one and only Shemekia Copeland was heating up “The Howling At The Tralf” series at the distinguished venue recently.
Being the daughter of the late-legendary guitarist Johnny Copeland, blues is in the 39-year old vocalist’s blood, not to mention her soul. And boy, does she have blues and soul to spare, with a little funk and gospel on the side. Drawing heavily from her recent album “America’s Child,” Copeland and her four piece band wasted no time getting down to business with “Ain’t Got Time For Hate,” its message of tolerance driven by a chugging groove and socially conscious selections like “Would You Take My Blood” and “Somebody Else’s Jesus” resonated with stinging truth given recent events.
After 25 years of touring, Copeland is no doubt a consummate performer in total command of her stellar voice ranging from the soaring down home heartbreak of “The Other Woman,” the funky assurance of “Never Going Back To Memphis” and the rootsy tenderness of “Smoked Ham and Peaches” while also paying tribute to Koko Taylor on “Has Anybody Seen My Man.” “I know that singing these songs aren’t going to make me popular but it feels damn good singing them,” she told the audience.
Every note rang true and that heartfelt connection to her material was at its most potent with “In The Blood Of The Blues” and her father’s “Ghetto Child,” the latter she sang sans microphone at times, giving everyone a taste of the raw power of her vocal. Copeland closed the show with the rousing rocker “It’s 2 AM” nicely warming up the crowd before they headed out into the cold night.