Saffire - A Blues Gem

By Keith S. Clements

A sassy and raunchy trio of middle-aged women will make a crash landing at Air Devils Inn on February 22 and 23. They go by the name of Saffire - The Uppity Blues Women, and are a diverse ethnic mix of African-American, Jewish, and part Cherokee. The unique music they put down combines racy vaudeville blues and ragtime with a harmonized blend of country, folk, R&B, swing and, of course, blues.

Saffire started out in Fredericksburg, Virginia, in 1984, when Earlene Lewis, who plays the stand-up bass, recruited Ann Rabson, who switched from a computer keyboard to piano, and guitarist Gaye Adegbalola, who was named Virginia Teacher of the Year in 1982. In 1988 they all quit their lucrative day jobs to devote their full energy to performing on the road and their star has been rising ever since.

Currently they average 200 appearances a year. They performed at the annual W.C. Handy Blues Awards Show in Memphis the last two years and their show-stopping "The Middle-Aged Boogie" was voted Blues Song of the Year for 1990. That song and six other originals are on their recent album on Alligator Records. They were a hit on the Crossroads Stage at the 1990 Chicago Blues Festival and now we will be able to hear them for the first time in Louisville between gigs in Nashville and New York.

Dan Shockley, who manages Air Devils Inn, has been trying to book local blues acts on a regular basis. This two-night stand will be the first time he has ventured into showcasing an internationally known act. For a couple of evenings of great innuendo-laced, liberated, acoustic blues, try the Uppity Women of Saffire.