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"Pickin" & Grinin

Sheba the Mississippi Queen                                  

“PICKIN” & GRININ’

Singing’ the Blues’

Amateurs and Celebrities Share the Stage at Florida Blues Society’s Monthly Jam

STORY BY FELICIA LEE

PHOTOGRAPHY BY GLENN PRICE

  Seated next to Richardson at a table near the side of the stage was Sheba the Mississippi Queen. While originally from Mississippi. Sheba made a name and career for her herself in Miami before moving recently to Ocala. Among the goals of the Blues society, Richardson said, is to make Gainesville audiences aware of prominent local musicians as well as bring non-local acts to Gainesville. “Our goal is to attract musicians north from Ocala. West from Jacksonville and south from Tallahassee” he said.

  Sheba was scheduled to perform at 9: oo slot to play through a couple of songs alone which puzzled some in the audience. But the moment she stepped up, the reason for her delay became clear: She’s been watching them. Once onstage, she interacted with the instrumentalists as if she had been playing with them for months prodding one then another into sola she belted out her songs.

   Mean while, another luminary of the blue world slipped onto the stage unannounced, Mike Markowitz, a.k.a  Little Mike, has played with some of the biggest legends in the blues, including Stevie Ray Vaughan, Robert Cray and  Pinetop Perkins, Richardson said he lives in the area and is a regular participant in the monthly jams. Little Mike seated himself at the keyboard and began to play in tight harmony with the rest of the ensemble as Sheba continued to dominate the spectators; attention. The combination of raw vocal power and consummate professionalism was impressive, and as the set ended, Sheba stepped offstage to a standing ovation.                (OUR TOWN GAINESVILLE FLORIDA AUTUMN 2013)