Reverend Shawn Amos
Barter Theatre, Doors open at 7:15pm; show starts at 8:00pm
Abingdon Music Experience presents January Jams at Barter Theatre.
From West Coast clubs, to Deep South joints, to European festivals, to YouTube, to the podcast universe, the Reverend Shawn Amos’ message of joyful blues is reaching an ever-increasing flock. The Rev’s distinctive blend of black roots music, R & B, and stripped down rock n’ roll brings a bracing, soul-deep musical experience to audiences starved for authenticity, for connection. “I derive a lot of satisfaction bringing people joy,” he says.
His third studio album, The Reverend Shawn Amos Breaks It Down, expands that mission. This time out, he spices up the mix with 21st century Freedom Songs, socially conscious soul, a stripped-down cover of Bowie’s “The Jean Genie” that slyly reveals the glam nugget’s blues bones, and an austere version of Nick Lowe’s “(What’s So Funny ‘Bout) Peace, Love, and Understanding?” that turns the post-punk gem into modern gospel. At the center of James Saez’ (Social Distortion, The Road Kings) no-frills production, the Rev’s voice and harp tie everything together in a stirring, celebratory whole, both beholden to history and refreshingly timely. “It’s the oddest birth of any album I’ve made,” the Rev says. “It has a particular depth.”
This sonic evolution is partly the result of over 100 dates in 2016-17, supporting his chart-topping The Reverend Shawn Amos Loves You. On the road, the Rev took risks, listened to his heart, and honed his chops. In the midst of that came the seismic election of 2016, and the subsequent altering of the American landscape. All of the above significantly impacted the Rev as a father, citizen, musician, and African-American man, and all of it can be heard on The Reverend Shawn Amos Breaks It Down.
With Special Guests: Ben Hunter & Joe Seamons
Seattle songsters Ben Hunter & Joe Seamons give life to voices that have long been silenced in American culture. Their award-winning performances are highlighted by story-telling that, rather than bringing the past to life, vividly shows how the past still lives in the present.
Through their songs, audiences witness current issues crop up again and again in folk songs, dance tunes, acoustic blues, and prison ballads. Ben & Joe bounce from fiddle & banjo breakdowns to a cappella field hollers, early jazz to gospel songs featuring Piedmont guitar style and rattlin’ bones.
With the same versatility that won them the International Blues Challenge in 2016, and allowed them to record with National Heritage Fellow Phil Wiggins, the duo celebrates the ways Americans have triumphed over oppression through the vitality of their art. Audiences walk away from Ben & Joe’s concerts and workshops inspired to learn more of their own history and engage more deeply with their communities.