Atlanta has a proud music tradition that stretches back to slavery. At its roots is blues, the basis of all popular music in America and perhaps the world. This past week, dozens of local and regional artists gathered at Northside Tavern in Atlanta to celebrate the legacy of blues music with performances and stories about the music. The event is called the “Chicken Raid” named after a song of the same title by Frank Edwards (1909-2002. Edwards was famous as a one-man band and played harmonica, guitar, drum and sang, all at the same time. A neurological feat that is unique among humans who cannot process so many muscle actions and thoughts at the same time. Edwards continued recording until his death in 2002 at the age of 93 while returning from the studio. Before his death, Edwards was the victim of a predatory loan scheme that almost found him and his wife homeless. In response, local musicians led by Daniel “Mudcat” Dudeck held a two-day music festival that eventually paid off the loan and a part of Atlanta musical history was born.
The festival featured performances by both young and elderly musicians who’ve been playing live music for a living for decades. The names might be unfamiliar to some but they are some of the most highly respected artists in Georgia and beyond.
Chicken Raid 2016 featured Georgia music artists Eddie Tigner, Essie Mae Brooks, Robert Lee Coleman, Roy Lee Johnson and many others who sang everything from gospel to electric–funk blues and fans from around the country descended on the club and partied from noon until 2 a.m. as act after act hit the stage. Standout performances included Mudcat and The Atlanta Horns, Frankie’s Blues Mission, Lola Gulley and the “Crown Prince of the Blues” Sammy Blue.
Money raised at the event goes to support the Music Makers Relief Foundation. Music Makers is a nonprofit that rediscovers, promotes and records many forgotten Black “roots music” performers who are still living. These artists are often in need of economic and medical assistance and through the foundation, they receive the support they need.