Music Midtown 2001 – Sunday
featuring The Indigo Girls, Shemekia Copeland, Evan And Jaron, Kenny Howes & the Yeah!, and Nillah
Atlanta, GA • May 6, 2001
Women Rule Midtown
The final day of Music Midtown was marked by both highs and lows. Starting off at the locals stage, the oh-so fine sounds of Nillah greeted us. This three-piece group delivers snappy pop-rock with energy and some great singing. Even the inclusion of a Journey cover couldn’t ebb my enthusiasm for this band.
After such a good start, things plummeted fast. Walking across to the 99x stage, we prepared for Evan And Jaron. I knew something was amiss when their introduction included the flashing of People Magazine, in which the twins are named two of the 50 prettiest people. Well, you could only go up from there, right? Ha, wrong, grasshopper. Evan and Jaron play crap music, completely sweet and artificial. This is music for people who have grown out of N’Sync but aren’t quite ready for The Wallflowers. Worse yet, the twins know that what they do is crap – each movement onstage is carefully scripted as to achieve maximum photo ops, and the two mug shamelessly every second they are performing, to hide the banality of the tunes. The inclusion of a fake Casey Kasem bit about the two sealed it. If cotton candy were a band, it would be these two. Evan And Jaron are the Anti-Christ.
Thankfully we left and went inside the Civic Center to the Turner South stage to hear Shemekia Copeland, and were completely flattened by a woman who, at age 22, rivals the best blues singers out there. Daughter of the late Johnny Copeland, she is a seasoned performer in her own right, recently nominated for a Grammy for her latest record, Wicked. To say Shemekia can sing the blues is sorta like saying Mickey Mantle could hit a baseball. Performing such material as the rockin’ “It’s 2 A.M” or the bittersweet “The Other Woman,” Copeland held the small crowd in the palm of hand. When she stepped away from the mic and sang part of “Ghetto Child,” her voice easily filled the hall. This woman is so good, words fail to describe.
Back outside we went, sad to leave Shemekia (and air conditioning!), but duty called. Next up were hometown heroes, The Indigo Girls. Long a fixture around town, Amy Ray and Emily Saliers performed without a band, and from the opening chords of “Closer To Fine,” they had the large crowd singing along. Although I would have loved to have heard a cut from Amy’s new solo record, Stag, it was the delicate harmonies and earnest emotion of the two’s work that was on tap. By the time the set ended with “Galileo,” everyone was singing along (well, I wasn’t, but I’m a grump) and after one last “Thanks y’all” from Amy, the duo left the stage.
Well, our day was drawing to a close, with a stop at the locals stage for Kenny Howes and the Yeah! Howes rocked, as he always does, sounding more and more like an Atlanta Pete Townshend every show. Featuring older favorites as well as material from an upcoming release, Kenny seemed genuinely tickled to be playing the festival, and ended our weekend on a good note.
So, with aching legs and ringing ears, we departed Music Midtown 2001. Other than the crowds, the heat, and those Made For TV Movie of the Week twits, Evan And Jaron, we had a grand time. You shoulda been there. ◼