Misty Blues Band recalls Billie Holiday and Big Mama Thornton


WILLIAMSTOWN -- Gina Coleman and the Misty Blues Band have established a reputation as one of the best blues bands in Berkshire County, and probably beyond.

The band consists of Coleman on vocals, Jason Webster on guitar, Bill Patriquin on bass, Jeff Dudziak on rhythm guitar, Ben Kohn on keyboards, and Kali Baba McConnell on drums. They have played throughout Berkshire County, in New York, Connecticut and recently in New Orleans.

Coleman discussed her band and her musical influences in an interview.

Q: When did the Misty Blues Band begin?

Gina Coleman: We began playing in 1999.

Q: How did the whole thing get started?

GC: Well, I'm also an actor, and I was in a play at the Williamstown Theatre Festival. It was a singing part. Gospel. One of the other actors, a guy named Rubin Santiago-Hudson, heard me sing and said to me, "You have an incredible voice. You'd be an incredible blues singer.'

"He turned me on to a classic blues album, ‘Men Are Like Streetcars.' And I was hooked."

Q: I've heard of it, but I don't think I've ever listened to it.

GC: It's an amazing record. It's a collection of songs by female blues singers from the 1920s and 1930s.

There a lot of them on there you've probably never heard of. But it's a really great record. I recommend it.

Q: And how did the band get its name?

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GC: I have to admit, we pretty much pulled it out of our sleeves.

Q: Which is fine. What type of songs do you guys play?

GC: At its core, the Misty Blues Band pays homage to the classic female blues singers throughout musical history: Bessie Smith, Billie Holiday, Big Mama Thornton. But for the past few years, we've expanded our repitoire to include songs by male bluesmen like Willie Dixon, B.B. King, Howlin' Wolf.

Q: Your latest album was "Between the Stacks." released in 2012, and it features Charles Neville, better known as the sax player for the Neville Brothers. How did that come about?

GC: Well, it was kind of lucky. When we started recording the album, I had hired a sax player to work with us. And almost at the last minute, he called me, very apologetic, and told me he had double-booked, and that he couldn't be on our CD. "I had so many songs with sax on it, so I was a little frantic. Charles lives in Huntington now, and someone suggested the band contact him. We did, and he agreed to play. And he was tremendous.

Q: Do you have any favorite places to play in the area?

GC: We play all over Berkshire County, but I really like this little bar in Worthington, which isn't quite in the Berkshires. But it's a great place, a little hole-in-the-wall, and the people there are very supportive. The name of the bar is Liston's.

Q: I kind of want to go now.

GC: You should. We're playing there at least once this summer.


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