“The Blind Boys of Alabama don’t like to play for a conservative crowd.”
  • “The Blind Boys of Alabama don’t like to play for a conservative crowd.”
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Maybe someone warned him about the Belly Up Tavern’s location in laid-back Solana Beach. Maybe it was the venue’s seated-show setup. Maybe it was because his group was playing on a Sunday night.

Video:

Blind Boys of Alabama

...sing "Spirit in the Sky"

...sing "Spirit in the Sky"

Whatever it was, 87-year-old Jimmy Carter playfully warned the crowd before his band had played a single note: “The Blind Boys of Alabama don’t like to play for a conservative crowd.”

Thankfully, fans got the memo, responding to the quartet’s 75-minute show with respect, appreciation, and enthusiasm. Heavy on gospel selections but bookended by soul covers — Curtis Mayfield’s “People Get Ready” and Stevie Wonder’s “Higher Ground” — the band’s set alternated between down-tempo vocal showcases and upbeat body-movers like “Drive,” which Carter performed alongside fans on the floor, having so much fun he only reluctantly got back on stage.

Carter implored fans to visit the merch booth because “The Blind Boys of Alabama like to eat,” which only made sense for a group still giving its all in a live show that first hit the stage when there were only 48 states. At the Belly Up, Carter and company proved that, nearly 80 years in, they are still nothing if not hungry.

  • Concert: Blind Boys of Alabama
  • Date: January 29
  • Venue: Belly Up
  • Seats: Front row
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