You might have come across footage on social media of an elderly African-American woman shredding on guitar, complete with a Jimi Hendrix-style behind-the-back solo. That’s none other than Atlanta-based legend Beverly “Guitar” Watkins. The still-active 80-year-old performer’s career began back in the 1950s, when her band leader Piano Red helped popularize the term “rock and roll” in Atlanta. Since then, she’s earned a reputation as a Lightnin’ Hopkins-style blues picker and a living legend of Georgia music. Her Athens-based collaborator Rick Fowler is throwing a belated party—Watkins’ birthday was Apr. 6—that pays homage to a blues legend’s historic relevance, viral fame and stunning stage presence.
BEVERLY "GUITAR" WATKINS Renowned blues guitarist from Atlanta. 80th birthday bash! See Calendar Pick on p. 17.
RICK FOWLER BAND Original, guitar-driven local blues-rock group.
BLUE ROSES High-energy band playing a mix of Texas, Chicago and traditional blues and soul.
MICHAEL GUTHRIE Local singer-songwriter whose sound blends folk, jazz, pop, blues, flamenco, country and rock.