When the Ultimate Mother’s Day Weekend kicks off on Friday, May 12, concertgoers should expect to witness the transformation of Lady Antebellum Pavilion in Columbia County to an upscale, classy environment – suitable to celebrate all the worthy mothers deserving of an evening of sweet soul music fit for queens.
In addition to two of America’s legendary soul music vocal groups, The O’Jays and Dennis Edwards’ Temptations Review – the night of music will be complimented by tables donned with white tablecloths, candles and wine glasses. Greg Harris, the Charlotte-based promoter of the holiday concert, explained that he’s providing an aura of class – mainly to neutralize the typical outdoor setting that requires patrons to bring their own lawn chairs and plastic tables.
“In this case, I want people to concentrate more on being comfortable, getting a good seat and mostly, for the mothers in the crowd to really enjoy themselves – and feel special – without having to tote picnic tables to the party,” Harris said.
Eddie Levert Sr., lead singer of the O’Jays, and Dennis Edwards both concur that their respective groups will be on-point to provide a night to remember, for all patrons.
In a recent phone interview from his home near Phoenix, Levert noted that he, along with fellow original member Walter Williams Sr. and Eric Nolan Grant, are “pumped’ and ready to visit suburban Augusta. Though The O’Jays have visited Augusta countless times in their 60-year career, they weren’t familiar with Evans.
For the show, Levert promised that attendees would be treated to special performances by both acts.
“We’ve rehearsed intently for at least four or five weeks straight; we’ll use the same show for a year or two – then dress-up the R’n’B songs,” he said.
Expect to hear the favorites – Love Train, Give The People What They Want, Back Stabbers, For the Love of Money and Used to Be My Girl. Don’t expect any pre-recorded tracks, he added. “No way, we’re ‘The Jays, man.’ Nothing but the real thing – I’m talking about 12 people onstage, real horn section, lady backup singers, two keyboardist/vocalists. Very authentic,” said the Canton, Ohio, native.
In a phone interview from home in suburban St. Louis, Temptations legend Dennis Edwards said that his five-member group will utilize the back-line, instrumentalists from The O’Jays.
“We often do it like that,” said Edwards, who’s widely known in musical annals as the first replacement for The Tempt’s original lead vocalist David Ruffin. “David and I were actually very good friends, until his untimely death (1991). In fact, David was the one who informed me that I was being groomed to replace him.”
After moving to Detroit from his native suburban Birmingham, Ala., Edwards joined the Motown stable after an audition for Berry Gordy Jr. was set up by Motown bassist James Jamerson. Edwards eventually joined The Countours briefly until taking over the lead Temptations role following Ruffin’s departure.
As current leader of the Tempt’s Review, Edwards revealed that he and Otis Williams, leader of The Temptations, once feuded – until realizing that their beef was only beneficial to attorneys profiting from their disgruntled behavior.
“Otis agreed to let me use the name, and now we can all make some money. It really made good sense,” said Edwards. In 1984, after launching a solo career, Edwards released a now-classic hit called Don’t Look Any Further, along with Siedah Garrett, a former Michael Jackson protégé.
Augusta-area patrons should look to hear all the popular hits from the early 1960s to the late 1980s, a period when the late Ali-Ollie Woodson took over as lead singer.
“We’ll do everything from My Girl to Ball of Confusion to Lady Soul,” he said. “While David (Ruffin) was our greatest lead singer, Ollie was quite special too – he was a blend between myself and David.”
Woodson spent several years in Augusta, recording at a North Augusta studio, while playing drums with Leroy Lloyd and the Swinging Dukes. He also fronted bands in Atlanta before landing the Temptations gig. In Atlanta, Woodson was a regular performer at the Living Room Lounge on Mayson-Turner Road near the Atlanta University Center.
Though Edwards appreciates many of today’s soul artists such as Jaheim and Maxwell, Levert has issues with radio stations that fail to play new music by mature artists from his era.
“Of course, we’re not young, but we can still write new, good songs. We just need an outlet where people can hear our creativity. I credit (soloist) Charlie Wilson for somehow getting his new music played. He’s a rarity considering he too is an older artist.”
Wilson was the original lead singer for the 1980s hitmakers, GAP Band, which also featured his two brothers, Ronnie Wilson and Robert Wilson.