The event was AJ’s Birthday Bash at the LEGENDARY Darwin’s Burger and Blues!
When I arrived, ‘When the Saints Go Marching In’  filled the night air and brought me back to my childhood where I heard it played many times in church. Darwin’s was up praising the love of the MUSIC AJ and his coalition were sharing. Darwin’s was a blues club, juke joint,and Sunday church meeting all rolled into one!!

You could feel His contagious energy and  passion  fill the room!

AJ Ghent is a true band leader pulling together some of the best players Atlanta has to offer. Part of his coalition is wife Marla and as I watched them perform, I could see the respect & admiration  she has for her husband’s talent. Gary Paulo and Jon Merritt (saxophone) were among the many friends and family there to celebrate. They joined the band for a few tunes adding some blues!

AJ plays both lap and pedal steel guitar. He comes from a long line of steel guitar players and it’s been said that the gift is in His blood. It started with AJ’s grandfather, Henry Nelson. Henry introduced the cutting edge soul sound of the steel guitar in a historical Pentecostal African-American church. AJ’s  father, Aubrey Ghent Sr. is also one of the Greats in the Steel Guitar community. He came along and took the style and edge of his father, Henry Nelson, to another level.
AJ Ghent is the NEW image of steel guitar for today’s generation and those to come. He sings, raps, writes, and produces and wants to impact the world with the brilliance of “Feel Good Dance Music.” AJ is a highly sought after steel player and has shared the stage with some of the greats including the Allman Brothers and tours regularly with Col.Bruce Hampton. Some words I heard in reference to this young player: Phenomenal , Amazing , Master & Genius!! I couldn’t agree more!

I asked AJ if he could play with anyone, dead or alive, and he said, “My Grandfather Henry Nelson was the father of what we call Sacred Steel Music. He died some years ago before I had the chance to play with him. That would have been Great!” When asked if he had any pet peeves about the MUSIC Industry he replied,” I have no pet peeve. Pet peeves in music blocks the enhancement of various styles and knowledge from which another could give. We are all creative beings. Let’s learn from each other.” I asked him about his future and he said,

I’m not sure what the future holds. I just want me and my loved ones safe and happy enjoying life.

Amen to that!

photos ©2012 Raymond Chang

The band for the night was:

AJ Wunder Ghent~Vocals~Steel
Brian Bush~Drums
Kirk Plunkett~Bass
Quinton Perkins~Keyboard
Marla Ghent~Vocals

AJ GHENT website
A.J. Ghent (J Wunder) on Facebook