Grapes Alumni Alive and Very Much Active in Atlanta Music Scene
Back in the nineties, before the term jamband was even brought to the general public, the most popular band of this ilk in the Southeast was an Atlanta group called, The Grapes. The band developed a very rabid following, and many folks here in the jewel city of the south still talk glowingly of some of the better Grapes performances.
Well, today the members still are participating in many projects. Most noteworthy is Romin Dawson’s Wayside Riders, who have just put the finishing touches on their as yet unnamed follow-up to last year’s Grey CD, slated for release on the Dynasonic label later this year. ‘We have more of the band members participating in the songwriting process now which gives this album an eclectic feel,’ says Dawson, ‘and our music has been made stronger by our increased focus on background vocals. We can’t wait to finish the project and bring it to the public.’ The band is known for excellent songwriting (check out ‘Katy’ on Grey) and it’s rough-hewn, soulful performances which often include unique covers like Bob Dylan’s ‘Solid Rock’ and Neil Young’s ‘Revolution Blues.’ Their upcoming dates include a stop at Oxford, Mississippi’s legendary Proud Larry’s on April 16.
Ted Norton, another former Grape, has fallen off of the vine and into the world of Atlanta’s Organic Pied Piper, Ralph Roddenbery. Norton joined Roddenbery for his entire Dynasonic DVD taping performance at Smith’s Olde Bar last Friday, swapping solos and regaling in interplay with longtime Roddenbery sideman Chris Rotch. Norton sounded brilliant on the guitar, whipping his head back and forth as he repeatedly filled the room with a flurry of riffs. They delivered two sets which featured two Roddenbery debuts ‘Paper Doll In a Forest Fire,’ and ‘Make It So.’ Richie Jones from Donna Hopkins’ band and his wife Samantha joined for ‘Sister Mama,’ and Hopkins’ herself joined for a spirited rendition of ‘Pushin’ On A Pull Door,’ which elicited one of the many uproarious responses from the Smith’s audience.
Hopkins’ performance was filmed for future Dyansonic DVD release as well, and she and her trio offered many of her old favorites as well as newer songs like ‘In Spite Of Yourself,’ ‘Hit Me’ and ‘Let Love Go.’ Vocalist Lola Gulley joined DHB for one of the newest compositions of the night, ‘Take Me To The River,’ (Hopkins own composition, not the Al Green classic). Report by Rob Turner