Arts

Atlanta Band Celebrates Southern Lyricist Johnny Mercer

Atlanta band Back in the Saddle will be celebrating the works of lyricist Johnny Mercer at the Red Clay Foundry.
Atlanta band Back in the Saddle will be celebrating the works of lyricist Johnny Mercer at the Red Clay Foundry.
Credit Alison Guillory / WABE

Decked out in cowboy hats, bolo ties and fringe, the Atlanta band Back in the Saddle brings the West down South. The group plays western tunes from the 1920s to the 1960s, from television themes to standards.

Back in the Saddle will be performing at the Red Clay Music Foundry  Jan. 16 at 8 p.m.

The show will deviate from the usual western honky tonk and will start off with a set by Grammy-nominated singer Gwen Hughes and Braves organist Matt Kaminski. They will be performing the works of Johnny Mercer, one of the great lyricists of the 20th century.

“Johnny Mercer is the crowned prince of lyricists,” Hughes said in an interview with WABE’s Erin Wright. “And it has always tickled me that we get to claim him.”

Many of the songwriters included in the Great American Songbook were from New York, influenced by Tin Pan Alley. Mercer, however, was born in Savannah.

“Mercer has really brought it down South,” Kaminski said. “Being from Savannah, he chose a lot of the imagery in that area and put it in his lyrics.” 

Kaminski and Hughes performed live in WABE’s studio, kicking off the interview with one of Mercer’s most well-known and celebrated tunes, “Moon River.”

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