By Don Rhodes
The restored historic Miller Theater on Broad Street will be rocking again at 7 p.m. on Friday, September 10, when blues-gospel singer Ryan Abel and his musicians return for their “Goin’ South” concert.
Classic Southern rock songs will be re-created almost note for note of groups like Lynyrd Skynyrd, Allman Brothers, Marshall Tucker, Blackfoot, The Outlaws and others.
It’s especially an appropriate place to hold the show since Florida-based Lynyrd Skynyrd performed late-night concerts at 11:30 p.m. in the Miller in March of 1973 after the regular movie showings.
And another classic Southern rock band, .38 Special, is due to perform on August 27, in the Miller just a few weeks before the Goin’ South event.
Tickets have been going fast ranging from $44 to $79. Buy online at millertheateraugusta.com.
Opening for the Goin’ South band will be the Kenny George Band of Aiken and the Sweet Burrito Band of Augusta.
Abel, who twice has won Augusta Magazine’s Male Vocalist of the Year award, has been singing in the Augusta area since a teenager performing in Christian rock bands.
Fans of Ed Turner and the No. 9 Band have enjoyed Abel displaying his powerful vocals in the Imperial Theater at No. 9’s sold-out shows including his 2014 appearance with the legendary, rhythm & blues star Sharon Jones as a guest artist.
Abel was one of those who spoke in November of 2020 to the North Augusta City Council urging the government body to name the city’s new riverfront amphitheater adjacent to SRP Park after Jones, who spent her last five years living in North Augusta. The council that same night voted unanimously in favor of the motion.
Abel and his Goin’ South band already had become the first act to perform in the unnamed new amphitheater the previous month in October 2020.
Besides his Goin’ South and No. 9 performances, Abel also has been seen in various local musicals including The Augusta Players’ 2015 offering “Shrek, The Musical” directed by the late Richard Justice with Abel in the title role.
Leading the Goin’ South band is Keith Jenkins, another popular musician who toured the world for 12 years with James Brown’s Soul Generals band as lead guitarist and bandleader. Jenkins also for several years was the “maestro” of the James Brown Academy of Musik Pupils.
The Goin’ South band features many other musicians with local followings as well as familiar backup vocalists Jaycie Ward and Brooke Lundy.
Ward has opened for a ton of major stars including Vince Gill, Luke Bryan, Lady Antebellum, Little Big Town and Martina McBride, and has sung the National Anthem countless times at major events throughout the CSRA.
Lundy has recorded background vocals on sessions of major artists in Nashville and New York City. Local fans first came to love her performances with area theater groups including playing Dorothy in The Augusta Players’ version of “Wizard of Oz” in the Imperial.
Don’t expect to hear “Sweet Home, Augusta” instead of “Sweet Home, Alabama” at the Goin’ South concert. But you will be transported back in time to the 1970s with classic Southern rock songs re-created by some amazing area Southern rock performers.