COLUMBUS, Ga. (WRBL) — Blues may not be mainstream but one local musician hopes to change that. Phenix City-based Skyler Saufley, 28, was inducted into the Alabama Blues Hall of Fame earlier this year. On Friday, he will perform a free concert with his band as Skyler Saufley and the 99th Degree.
The concert will take place on Friday, Oct. 6 at 7 p.m. on the 1200 block of Broadway, as the fifth performance in Uptown Columbus’ fall Friday Night Concert Series. On Oct. 20, the series will revive for Columbus State University’s homecoming parade and concert.
“Even though I live around here, you know, I don’t really ever play here, so it’s always cool to be able to get to play closer to home,” Saufley said.
For Saufley, who makes his living as a musician, it’s important to play gigs where he can interact with the audience and tell stories. He likes to make blues accessible through engaging listeners and providing a high-energy performance.
“I don’t like to be the wallpaper,” Saufley said, explaining he prefers to play events like the Uptown Concert Series so the band can put on a show.
According to the singer, the band’s sets are often filled with stunts. Sometimes Saufley will stand on a barstool and play the guitar behind his head, other times the upright bass player will spin his instrument on stage. As the band performs blues tunes from legends like T-Bone Walker, Muddy Waters and Howlin’ Wolf, Saufley sometimes plays the piano with his foot.
With a chuckle, Saufley said, “You never know what’s going to happen. That could be good or bad!”
Ultimately, he hopes to share his love of blues music with the community. Saufley explained he was first introduced to the blues at the age of 12. He grew up in a household where music wasn’t played often, so it wasn’t until a childhood friend introduced him to Elvis Presley that he had his first taste.
“I thought that was a new thing, I had never heard of him,” Saufley said. “And so, I thought, ‘I’m gonna get a guitar. I want to learn how to play. I want to do that.’”
After being introduced to Presley, whose sound was heavily influenced by blues musicians, it was only a short time before Saufley found out about Muddy Waters and other classic blues artists. Saufley heard a few bars of Waters’ “Got My Mojo Working,” and felt immediately called to play the blues.
“Ever since then, I’ve been trying to dig deeper and deeper into that music and try to play it as much and as true as I can,” said Saufley.
On Friday, the musician hopes the Columbus community, especially young people, will come out to enjoy the music he plays. He added his band prefers to perform a swing-y, upbeat style of blues with songs mainly from the 1940s and ‘50s.
Saufley said, “It’s one of those styles that like, even if you don’t know the music, once you start hearing it, you’re gonna start kind of bobbing your head [and] tapping your foot.”