The Feelings of Beverly “Guitar” Watkins

By James Calemine

     Recorded at Clean Tracks Studio in Vinemont, Alabama, these ten songs illustrate the true guitar mastery of Beverly Watkins. Born in Atlanta, Georgia, on April 6, 1939, Watkins played guitar for the legendary Piano Red when she was a teenager. 

     This collection showcases Watkins’ songwriting talent. In the album liner notes Music Maker Relief Foundation Tim Duffy wrote, “I met Beverly when she was playing on the streets of the Underground Atlanta. She put on a tremendous show and she was obviously a star. Music Maker started booking package shows throughout the country and Beverly was a showstopper. She tore down the house at halls such as Irving Plaza, Great American Music Hall, House of Blues, Tipitina’s, and European festivals. She came up under Piano Red and cut records with him back in the 50’s and 60’s. She plays low down, hard stompin’, railroad-smokin’ blues. She’ll tell you, ‘People are impressed to see a black woman play like a man.’” 

     The first song, “As I Was Walking (Down That Lonesome Highway)”, opens with a great R & B horn-laced energy. “Baghdad Blues”, a political tune sheds light on our country’s Middle East situation, emerging as the centerpiece of this album.

     “Sugar Baby Swing” carries heavy jazz inflections. Watkins molds her sound to any style with a slow musical precision. The evidence of her talent verifies there’s no substitute for experience. “Just Make Believe”, a quiet piano waltz, is sure to attract lovers towards one another. The next song, “Get Out On the Floor” invites all good timers to shake their moneymaker while Watkins plays fiery licks on the guitar. 

     The jubilant “Jesus Walked on the Water” features an upbeat barbershop quartet vibe you only hear on Sunday mornings that ends The Feelings of Beverly “Guitar” Watkins

     Watkins performed with other blues greats and Music Maker musicians such as original Ink Spot Eddie Tigner, Cootie Stark, Jerry “Boogie” McCain, and Sammy Blue. Having the fortune of seeing her live captured the full effect of her guitar mastery. She passed away in 2019.  Her gritty style kept any man honest… 

www.jamescalemine.com