Saffire: the Uppity Blues Women & Me
Posted November 7, 2009on:
You can’t imagine how excited I was to see a song called, Bald Headed Blues (Hair Today Then Gone Tomorrow) by one of my favorite bands, Saffire: The Uppity Blues Women.
These three women combine serious blues and comedic songs with heart, humor and pride. They speak directly to middle-aged and older women (although younger ones and men like them as well) about the stuff we face in life. It’s sometimes bawdy but who doesn’t need a bit of bawdiness in life?
Bald Headed Blues, which refers to Gaye Adegbalola’s bout with two primary cancer ten years ago, is an anthem to what I’m trying to say about hair loss and cancer care:
Doctor said to me
“Girl, you’re gonna lose your hair”
I thought he meant on my head
But, Lord, he meant everywhere
Now my head is round and shiny
And my ears look really big
But I still love myself
No need to hide it with a wig
Let’s get to the root of the problem
No need to split hairs
There’s no such thing as a bad hair day
And for once, I’m getting stares
I really had a close shave
And my new do is a winner
I paid thousands for it
Downtown at the Chemo Center
Yes it was hair today
Then gone tomorrow
I can laugh it down the drain
Or wallow in the sorrow
Dance with death or with life
Which one do I choose?
I gotta shake my butt
To them bald headed blues
If my hair comes back one day
It’ll be scattered, tight and curly
In it’s chia pet phase
I still won’t look so girlie
If you did not like my peach
No you cannot rub my fuzz
It’s still the same me
I just won’t lie like a rug
Mirror, mirror on the wall
I’m still here, I’m standing tall
My same eyes stare back at me
Even tho I look so differently
I didn’t battle cancer
You know, it battled me
But it did not win
I’m still standing don’t you see
So, shake it, baby, shake it. . .
(Gaye Adegbalola & Johnny Witter / Hot Toddy Music)
I was happy to learn that Saffire has a new album out this year, but sad to learn it’s their last except (for individual albums) and their final tour ends tonight Fredericksburg, VA. I’m not gonna get there but, like Gaye wrote, “I’m still here, I’m standing tall.”
This three-woman Saffire goes back to 1987 with musical ensemble began performing in the Washington, D.C. area in 1987 with Ann Rabson, Gaye Adegbalola and Earlene Lewis. Andra Faye took over for Earlene Lewis after she left the group. Rabson plays piano, vocals and guitar, Adegbalola sings and plays guitar and Faye sings and plays the bass, mandolin, violin and guitar.
They write their own songs and also do covers of blues singers they admire, including
Here’s a portion of a review of their last album written by Tim Holek for the March 2009 issue of Blues Bytes.
You hear pain in the voices of Rabson and Adegbalola, but you also detect a strong sense of courage. Adegbalola delivers vocals on “Bald Headed Blues” – a rockin’ country blues song about the effects of chemotherapy and battling cancer – with the conviction of a fire-and-brimstone sermon-telling preacher.”
Saffire are a little vaudeville, blues, and brazen, but most all of they are themselves. Hearing these fearless songs reveals these passionate ladies have lived life, learned from its misgivings, and are all the better for it. As heard in lyrics like “bad times make the good times better,” their songs preach to expect suffering and to grow from it. Don’t be fooled. This isn’t a pity party. In their final hour – literally, as the CD’s runtime is 60 minutes – their strength, joy, and love is positive. Whenever they decided to call it quits, you just knew these sassy gals were going to have the last word.
Their other album titles give a sense of their combination of serious blues and comedic tone: Middle Age Blues, Uppity Blues Women, Hot Flash, Broad Casting, Old, New Borrowed & Blue, Cleaning House, Live & Uppity; Ain’t Gonna Hush, and Deluxe Edition (a compilation).
With Saffire, I really feel up, up, up with the blues they sing.