Beverly "Guitar" Watkins - Back In Business
December 2, 2019
Today's Monday Women in Blues shoutout goes to Beverly "Guitar" Watkins.
Watkins was an American blues guitarist. She began playing music in school, and, in high school, she played bass for a band called Billy West Stone and the Down Beats. Around the year 1959, she was introduced to Piano Red, who had a daily radio show on WAOK, and she subsequently joined Piano Red and the Meter-tones, who played in a number of towns in the Atlanta area, and then Atlanta clubs such as the Magnolia Ballroom and the Casino, before starting to tour throughout the southeast, primarily at colleges. About the time the group renamed itself Piano Red and the Houserockers, they started touring nationally.
After the breakup of the band in about 1965, Watkins played with Eddie Tigner and the Ink Spots, Joseph Smith and the Fendales, and then with Leroy Redding and the Houserockers until the late 1980s. Subsequently, she has been based in Atlanta, a well-known fixture at the Underground Atlanta.
Watkins had a long and continuous musical career and worked with artists like James Brown, B.B. King, and Ray Charles. However, like many roots musicians, she found it difficult to crack the airwaves, and achieved recognition much later in her career, after the advent of the internet made it possible for musicians not backed by major labels to be heard by a wider audience. She was re-discovered by Music Maker Relief Foundation founder Tim Duffy, who started booking her in package shows, and in 1998, with Koko Taylor and Rory Block, was part of the all-star Women of the Blues "Hot Mamas" tour. Her 1999 CD debut, Back in Business, earned a W. C. Handy Award nomination in 2000.
Here's the song "Back In Business" during the Winston Blues Revival tour in 1999.