Friday, March 27, 2015
YOLO COUNTY NEWS
99 CENTS

Blind Boys of Alabama return to Mondavi with gospel standards, holiday tunes

BlindBoysofAlabamaW

The Blind Boys of Alabama's Christmas tour comes to the Mondavi Center on Friday, Dec. 13. Cameron Witting/Courtesy photo

By
From page A9 | December 10, 2013 |

That’s the ticket

Who: Blind Boys of Alabama

When: 8 p.m. Friday, Dec. 13

Where: Jackson Hall, Mondavi Center for the Performing Arts, UC Davis

Tickets: $49 general, $24.50 students; www.mondaviarts.org or 530-754-2787

After roughly 70 years as a vocal ensemble — including five Grammy Awards during the past 14 years — the Blind Boys of Alabama just keep going on, and on, and on. Their current Christmas tour includes a performance at the Mondavi Center at 8 p.m. Friday, Dec. 13, in Jackson Hall.

The Blind Boys recently released a new album — a collaboration between the gospel veterans and vocalist/producer Justin Vernon (of the group Bon Iver, an American indie pop band from rural Wisconsin that was founded in 2007.

“I think it’s one of the best albums we’ve done in a while,” said Ricky McKinnie, who’s been affiliated with the Blind Boys for 24 years. “What makes it different is that we’re singing some traditional gospel songs, but in a mainstream approach,” with guest vocals from white performers from the indie pop realm, some of whom are young enough to be the grandchildren of the more senior members of the Blind Boys.

“Naturally, we will be doing some of the material from the new album,” McKinnie said. “Tunes like ‘I Shall Not Be Moved’ and ‘Take Your Burdens To The Lord.’ ”

And the Blind Boys will be reprising tunes from their 2008 holiday album, “Go Tell It On The Mountain.” The set list likely will include a gospel-influenced version of Irving Berlin’s “White Christmas” and a gospel version of “Silent Night,” originally a holiday hymn with German lyrics.

And then there’s “Last Month of the Year” — a venerable gospel standard in which one singer calls out “Tell me, when was Jesus born? Was it January?” The reply from the other singers: “No?” “February?” “No!” “March? April? May?” “No, no.” And as the singers work their way through the months (“June? July? August?”) the Blind Boys simultaneously entertain the crowd and gently educate the very youngest members of the audience.

That mix of entertaining music and gospel content is a hallmark of the Blind Boys’ annual December tour.

“Anytime when we go to a university, like UC Davis, we realize that many people are not there to be preached to, but to be sung to,” McKinnie explained. “We come to sing. And if someone is feeling bad” — and in need of a spiritual boost — “well, they need to hear a Blind Boys concert,” he added.

Given the many decades that the group has been performing, there have been inevitable changes in the Blind Boys lineup. The group first sang together in the glee club in 1944 at the Alabama Institute for the Blind in Talladega, Ala.; the original members were about 9 years old at the time.

Clarence Fountain, one of those original members, still records with the group when his health allows, but is no longer able to tour. Vocalist Jimmy Carter (born in 1929) is the longest-serving member of the current lineup. McKinnie (born in 1952) began his career singing with groups like Troy Ramey and the Soul Searchers, as well as the Gospel Keynotes (with whom he earned a gold record in 1972).

McKinnie lost his eyesight to glaucoma in 1976, but kept on performing. The Blind Boys’ Clarence Fountain recruited McKinnie in 1989, and he has served in various capacities as the Blind Boys drummer, tour manager and vocalist (appearing on four of the group’s Grammy-winning albums in recent years).

These days, the Blind Boys tour internationally.

“We were just in Brazil, where we saw our old-time friend Bobby Womack and the Rev. Jesse Jackson,” McKinnie said.

Womack wrote and recorded the tune “It’s All Over Now,” which is probably best known in the version recorded by the Rolling Stones; he was later inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Jackson was the first black presidential candidate to win statewide contests (Louisiana and South Carolina) in the 1984 campaign for the Democratic nomination.

“You just let the people in Davis know that The Blind Boys are coming to town,” McKinnie urged this reporter. “We’re going to be singing the best of Christmas music, and some of the best of our Grammy music, and songs from our new album.”

Tickets are $49 general, $24.50 for students, available at www.mondaviarts.org or 530-754-2787.

— Reach Jeff Hudson at [email protected] or 530-747-8055. Follow him on Twitter at @JeffHudsonDE

Comments

comments

.

News

Anti-gay initiative puts AG in a bind

By The Associated Press | From Page: A1

 
County supervisors consider options for historic courthouse

By Anne Ternus-Bellamy | From Page: A1 | Gallery

Two found dead of apparent shooting in West Davis home

By Lauren Keene | From Page: A1 | Gallery

 
New Paso Fino design trims lots

By Dave Ryan | From Page: A1

Woodland police warn of kidnapping phone scam

By Lauren Keene | From Page: A2

 
Co-pilot may have hidden illness, German prosecutors say

By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

 
Senate’s Harry Reid announces he won’t seek re-election

By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

Need a new best friend?

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3 | Gallery

 
Lawyer disputes police’s hoax claim in California kidnapping

By The Associated Press | From Page: A3

Empower Yolo offers peer counselor training

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4

 
Davis Flower Arrangers meet Wednesday

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

 
Sign up for Camp Shakespeare

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

State loosens sex offender residency restrictions

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

 
Neighbors invited to adopt Willow Creek Park

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A5

Sing along on April Fool’s Day

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A5

 
Three nabbed in counterfeiting probe

By Lauren Keene | From Page: A6

.

Forum

Can he get life back on track?

By Creators Syndicate | From Page: B5

 
Blame Reid for impasse

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A7

 
Practice cancer prevention each day

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A7

Turnabout is fair play

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A7

 
Be aware and be afraid

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A7

.

Sports

UCD’s Hawkins, Harris to shoot at Final Four

By Enterprise staff | From Page: B1 | Gallery

 
Home sweet home: Aggie women win a tennis match

By Enterprise staff | From Page: B1

Devil boys grind out a net win at Franklin

By Enterprise staff | From Page: B1

 
DHS baseballers fall to Vintage in eight innings

By Enterprise staff | From Page: B1

UCD men edge Hawaii on the court

By Enterprise staff | From Page: B1

 
DYSA roundup: Recent youth softball games feature big hitting

By Enterprise staff | From Page: B2 | Gallery

Sacramento get its second straight win

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Sharks get a key win over Detroit

By The Associated Press | From Page: B10 | Gallery

 
.

Features

.

Arts

UCD Student Fashion Association presents charity fashion show

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A3

 
‘Get Hard’ comes across as rather limp

By Derrick Bang | From Page: A8 | Gallery

Monticello announces April live-music shows

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A9

 
Leonardo Tuchman’s work shows at UC Davis Craft Center Gallery

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A9

Sacramento Youth Symphony holding open auditions

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A9

 
Preview Art Studio Tour participants’ work at The Artery

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A9 | Gallery

Smokey Brights to perform at Sophia’s

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A9

 
‘Deserted Destinations’ is April exhibit at Gallery 625

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A9 | Gallery

.

Business

Camry Hybrid takes a step forward

By Ann M. Job | From Page: B3

 
.

Obituaries

Celebrate Rusty Jordan’s Life

By Creator | From Page: A4

 
.

Comics

Comics: Friday, March 27, 2015

By Creator | From Page: B4