BATTLE OF THE BANDS: “Sweet Georgia Brown”


If you’ve ever seen the Harlem Globetrotters warm up before one of their games, you’ve heard this song. (This is not one of the contestants, so any votes cast for it will be disqualified.)

“Sweet Georgia Brown” was written by Ben Bernie and Maceo Pinkard, with lyrics by Kenneth Casey, in 1925. It became a standard almost overnight, and hundreds of covers of the tune, both instrumental and vocal, have been recorded, including by Django Reinhardt, Louis Armstrong, Ella Fitzgerald… heck, who HASN’T done “Sweet Georgia Brown”? Okay, I doubt Justin Bieber or Nicki Minaj have…

Anyway, I decided to do a battle on this because, face it, we just finished the A to Z Challenge and I was pretty well wiped after that. Among the many, many versions of the song on YouTube, I found two of them that featured the incomparable Chet Atkins with some pretty fantastic guitar players, both different in style but not in spirit. So, this is kind of a “Chet vs. Chet” battle.

With Stanley Jordan Stanley Jordan made a name for himself in the 80’s and 90’s for his unique (at the time) style of playing the guitar with both hands on the neck. This live recording was done in 1990.

With Lenny Breaux Lenny Breaux was an enigmatic but remarkable guitarist from Canada who specialized in playing the 7-string guitar. This recording is estimated to be from before 1982, when Chet’s signature model Gibson electric classical guitar was made for him. Apologies in advance for the quality of both the picture and the sound. I had to crank the sound all the way up to hear this.

Those are our contestants in this Battle of the Bands. Listen to both, decide which you like better, and cast your vote by leaving me a comment indicating which you liked better and why. Then, support the other people who are doing battles today, whose names and links to their blogs can be found on Stephen T. McCarthy’s Battle of the Bands blog. I’ll announce the winner of this battle next Tuesday, May 8, so be sure and get your vote in by then. You don’t have to be a participant in Battle of the Bands to vote, but if perchance you would be interested in conducting a battle yourself, please do so and let Stephen know.

The lines are now open. Good luck to Stanley Jordan and Lennie Breaux!

12 thoughts on “BATTLE OF THE BANDS: “Sweet Georgia Brown”

  1. I prefer the version with Stanley Jordan. The duet between the two seems more effortless and the overall arrangement is smoother, which this tune needs.

    Of course, it’d be great if Meadowlark Lemon pranced around the court while they were playing. I don’t remember it very well, but I actually saw the Harlem Globewtrotters in Missoula MT when I was about 6.


  2. Chet Atkins. 🙂

    One of my all-time favorite music teachers, a lady named Shirley Smith, was quite the pianist … and this one was in her boogie-woogie repertoire. Thank you for bringing up a fabulous memory for me.


  3. Really enjoyed both! To use a baseball metaphor, it’s like asking “who’s better, Mickey Mantle or Willie Mays.” I’ll go with Chet and Stanley Jordan. Visuals had a lot to do with it; loved watching Jordan play! Clever idea, John.


  4. Willie Mays.

    JOHN ~
    Ha! What were the odds we’d both be featuring Chet in this round? And YOU even featured him twice! (Plus, I already had ‘Sweet Georgia Brown’ on my ‘To BOTB Someday’ list.)

    Even though not all BOTBers are participating this round, I feel like it’s a good one because it’s so eclectic — from Classics to Comedy and “Experimental” in-between.

    Man, I really wish I could bust up this shutout for ya, but it would be dishonest of me to do so. Of course BOTH recordings are top-notch, but that one with CHET & STANLEY JORDAN was just such a joy to listen to and a joy to watch, because they seemed to be experiencing joy in the playing.

    CHET & STANLEY’s playing was so Seamless ‘n’ Sweet that it truly did justice to the title of the tune, “Sweet” Georgia Brown.

    ~ D-FensDogG


  5. John,

    I know you’re wiped after the A2Z challenge. I’m feeling a bit sluggish, too. I’m giving my vote to Chet with Stanley Jordan. They just right to my ear. Chet Atkins lived near Knoxville. In fact one of his distant cousins married DH’s 2nd cousin. 🙂 Good battle!

    ~Curious as a Cathy
    Rock Country Roads #BoTB Showdown


  6. I have Ron go with Stanley because it was more invigorating to me anyways. I love both but Stanley was superb whereas the other one is just as good but more low key in the approach.


  7. I am very well familiar with this song not only because of the Globetrotters, but because my father (who had been a popular basketball player for the WVU Mountaineers in 1947-1948) used the song for a basketball manipulation routine that he did as part of his juggling act. I heard this song so many times over the years.

    Chet is good no matter what, but the first version with Stanley Jordan definitely grabs me the most. That’s some tasty playing. My vote is for Chet and Stanley.

    Arlee Bird
    Tossing It Out


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