Live Music: Brittany Howard at The Orange Peel

Brittany Howard at The Orange Peel by Cathy Foreman

by: cathy foreman

Brittany Howard is touring, did you know? If you don’t then you need to pull the covers back and let the light in.

Brittany is the lead singer for Alabama Shakes, but she recently dropped a solo project entitled “Jaime, a sort of homage to her late sister, who passed away at the age of 13 – but the album is not about Jaime; it is simply an homage to her. And, well, the album will actually drop on Sept 20th, to be clear.

One of the first singles from the project, Stay High is accompanied by a video which features actor, Terry Crews. The single is a touching tribute to her father, K.J., who like Brittany makes a cameo or two in the video. The song is heartfelt and catchy – but if you get a chance to catch her live, singing it, it’s something really special.

The tour kicked off in Asheville, over the weekend. I drove up Saturday to catch the first of two shows she was putting on at the Orange Peel. Let me tell you, as amazing as the first show was, I can only imagine each show getting better and better. But she laid it all out to a sold-out crowd. People screaming “We love you Brittany” could be heard from the back of crowd.

Brittany is known for a deep howling in her voice. As I stood there watching the contortions of her mouth, I was reminded of one of my muses, Ledisi, who often reminds me of Rachelle Ferrell. The face is undeniable, but the vocals are simply out of this world. Being able to reach down from deep within and pull out some of the most beautiful music … I mean it really leaves you in awe. When you couple that with her energy, it’s a beautiful combination. She feels it, she feels it through every part of her body and she gives that to you as she dances across the stage and punctuates the sounds emanating from her band-mates like Nate Smith, on drums and Zac Cockrell on bass, who also plays with Brittany in Alabama Shakes, with flicks of the hand, kicks and punches to the air … some large and some small movements, but they all make powerful accents to the sounds.

I’m gonna side-step for a moment and just gush about her cover of “When Something Is Wrong with My Baby” by Sam and Dave … maaaannnn, that was something spiritual right there. It’s not one of the tracks from her project, unfortunately. Yo Brittany!! You should MOST DEFINEITLY cut a live version of that and make it available to the public. I mean… RIFUCKINGDICULOUS!!! I’m trying to tell you, it’s a mean cover.

Okay, now back to the show….

There were actually several moments throughout the set where I was transported back to my childhood, attending church with my grandmother. Some songs just struck a more spiritual note, for me, specially with the playing of the organ. Does the organ do that for anyone else? Then there were other moments that invoked clapping where I found myself do the rhythmic church clap. If you’re a southern baptist church kid, you know what I’m talking about.

She put on an hour set, which I’m sure saying that it ended too soon would be agreed upon by anyone in attendance. As the crowd chanted, me included, “Brittany, Brittany, Brittany” … there seemed to be no look of an encore, but that couldn’t be the end, right! Next thing I know, there’s a stomping on the floor that’s happening, and it grows more and more rambunctious; it’s louder than the chants were, and you could feel the power vibrating through your feet up your legs and more. Then the lights come on and the band reappears.  Britt and band give us not, one … not two… but four more songs including this powerful ballad, “Run to Me”. And if I’m honest, that still wasn’t enough. I’m greedy, I know … an amazing show will do it for me every time.

Suffice it to say, if she’s coming to your area … or if you can get to her, cop those tickets. You WILL NOT be disappointed.

Brittany Howard Tour Dates:

17 – Asheville, N.C. @ Orange Peel
18 – Asheville, N.C. @ Orange Peel

19 – Nashville, Tenn. @ Ryman Auditorium
23 – Washington, D.C. @ 9:30 Club
24 – Washington, D.C. @ 9:30 Club

18 – Milwaukee, Wis. @ Riverside Theater
19 – St. Paul, Minn. @ Palace Theatre
20 – Chicago, Ill. @ Riviera Theatre
22 – Toronto, Ontario @ Rebel
24 – New York, N.Y. @ Beacon Theatre
25 – Boston Mass. @ House of Blues
27 – Philadelphia, Pa. @ The Fillmore

05 – Austin, Texas @ ACL Festival
08 – Los Angeles, Calif. @ Theatre at Ace Hotel
09 – Los Angeles, Calif. @ Theatre at Ace Hotel
12 – Austin, Texas @ ACL Festival
13 – Atlanta, Ga. @ AfroPunk Festival