Singing the Blues for One of Our Own: A Tribute to Sean Costello, Part 3 by Rod Hamdallah

Posted on: Aug 19th, 2011 By:

Sean Costello, by Rod Hamdallah.

Sean Costello‘s impact on the blues scene in Atlanta and beyond stretched across generations of musicians, and even inspired a young Rod Hamdallah to switch from punk rock to garage blues and Americana roots. On the day of the first of two Blue Waltz: A Benefit for the Sean Costello Memorial Fund for Bipolar Disorder concerts at Smith’s Olde Bar, Rod remembers what Sean meant to him…

Sean Costello quickly became someone I wanted to be friends with as well as play music with. I was 17 years old, sneaking into bars with a friend when we stopped into Northside Tavern. My friend introduced me to Sean; he asked if I played an instrument. I was a punk rock drummer at the time so we started talking about influential rock and roll bands. I had no intention of playing guitar until I saw Sean live. I loved the blues but didn’t know too much about it. Sean would turn me on to the greats such as Robert Johnson, Skip James and the Chicago legends.

I was always too intimidated to play around him and play on stage with him. I would sit to the side of the stage and watch him the whole night. I felt a comfort from him that I couldn’t get from other players. He knew where I was in life personally and helped me want to become someone. His friendship and lessons has taken me a long way. He will always be the reason.

Blue Waltz for The Sean Costello Memorial Fund features the following performers:

Friday, August 19: Opening set by Moontower, The Last Waltz Ensemble with special guests including Jon Liebman, Ike Stubblefield, Rev. Jeff Mosier, David Blackmon, Mudcat, Joe McGuinness, Rod Hamdallah, Nelson Nolen, Aaron Trubic (Sean Costello Band), Greg Baba (King Johnson), andGreg Hester. Purchase Friday tickets here.

Saturday August 20: Opening set by: Turtle Folk, The Last Waltz Ensemblewith special guests including Jon Liebman, Ike Stubblefield, Richie Jones (Donna Hopkins Band), Preston Holcomb (The Grapes), Daniel Hutchens (Bloodkin), Charlie Wooton (Zydefunk), Will & Lee Haraway (The Sundogs), Lee Schwartz (Outformation), Justin Brogdon, Randy Chapman, Skye Paige, Jessica Sheridan and more. Purchase Saturday tickets here.

(Click here for part 1 by Dr. Paul Linden and here for part 2 by Jon Liebman.)

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Singing the Blues for One of Our Own: A Tribute to Sean Costello, Part 2 by Jon Liebman

Posted on: Aug 18th, 2011 By:

In part 2 of our homage to Sean Costello on the eve of the two-night Blue Waltz tribute show Fri. Aug. 19 and Sat. Aug. 20 at Smith’s Olde Bar, Jon Liebman of The Electromatics shares his memories of a consummate blues man and good friend…

How do you put a best friend in perspective? Sean was my brother, my confidant, a musical partner.  We played countless gigs together over our friendship which began in the mid -‘90s when Sean and I were both still teenagers. He always wore a smile (at least for his fans) and was always willing to talk to musicians no matter what skill level they had. I could probably write a book about escapades on and off stage that I keep for myself as a constant reminder of my best friend.

Sean Costello played with The Last Waltz for the last time on April 4, 2008. Photo credit: Vincent Tseng.

After years of playing shows together, we played our last one a week before he died with The Last Waltz Ensemble at Smith’s Older Bar.  We had argued about something, as friends do, and not spoken in a week or two before the show. When Sean came into Smith’s, we smiled, gave a hug, and went on to play that show with an unreal energy and vigor. We would not share the stage again.

That’s why what we are doing this weekend is so fitting.  Supporting his foundation and music is supporting his legacy.

Blue Waltz for The Sean Costello Memorial Fund features the following performers:

Friday, August 19: Opening set by Moontower, The Last Waltz Ensemble with special guests including Jon Liebman, Ike Stubblefield, Rev. Jeff Mosier, David Blackmon, Mudcat, Joe McGuinness, Rod Hamdallah, Nelson Nolen, Aaron Trubic (Sean Costello Band), Greg Baba (King Johnson), andGreg Hester. Purchase Friday tickets here.

Saturday August 20: Opening set by: Turtle Folk, The Last Waltz Ensemble with special guests including Jon Liebman, Ike Stubblefield, Richie Jones (Donna Hopkins Band), Preston Holcomb (The Grapes), Daniel Hutchens (Bloodkin), Charlie Wooton (Zydefunk), Will & Lee Haraway (The Sundogs), Lee Schwartz (Outformation), Justin Brogdon, Randy Chapman, Skye Paige, Jessica Sheridan and more. Purchase Saturday tickets here.

(Click here for part 1 by Dr. Paul Linden.)

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Singing the Blues for One of Our Own: A Tribute to Sean Costello, Part 1 by Dr. Paul Linden

Posted on: Aug 17th, 2011 By:

A big part of ATLRetro’s mission is to make sure that you know about all the cool vintage-inspired activities happening in Atlanta. But equally important to us is providing a place where history can be preserved, including the impact of the talented people no longer with us but without whom this vibrant entertainment scene might not be so rich today. Both of these goals intersect in Blue Waltz: A Benefit for the Sean Costello Memorial Fund for Bipolar Disorder for two nights, Fri. Aug. 19 and Sat. Aug. 20 at Smith’s Olde Bar, when The Last Waltz Ensemble will headline accompanied by an amazing roster of the city’s finest blues and rock musicians taking the stage to celebrate the life of a blues prodigy tragically cut short and raise money to help others with a serious condition.

ATLRetro asked three of the performers to share a few words about Sean Costello, and we’ll be running one of these tributes every day between now and Friday. First up is pianist and harmonica player Dr. Paul Linden, who played with Sean from 1995 to 2002, opening for such greats as BB King, Buddy Guy, Dr. John, Delbert McClinton and Bonnie Raitt. He currently tours with Big Al and the Heavyweights, a contemporary blues, zydeco and rock n roll band out of Louisiana, and is an assistant professor in the University of Southern Mississippi’s Recording Industry Program.

Sean Costello’s legacy hangs over the Atlanta music scene in a loving embrace, bringing together young and old, black and white, traditional and contemporary music lovers in the same way his music did. Sean’s live performance came to a premature conclusion in the late winter of 2008, but in the 15 years that preceded that, friends, family and fellow musicians were treated to an astonishing artistic development.

His early years (from about 11-14 yrs old) were spent in the shed, playing along to traditional blues and jazz albums and sitting in with local blues players. He exploded onto the national scene in 1995 winning the international blues competition for solo acoustic act – a victory that garnered him his first record deal producing CALL THE COPS, a Memphis-based management deal and tour dates from the Mississippi Delta through the Florida panhandle. Sean expanded his horizons teaming up with New-Englander Susan Tedeschi at the Springing the Blues Fest in Jacksonville, FL. The dates became more plentiful, the rooms larger and cities further apart.

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