Tag Archives: Jeff Beck

Rock Candy Funk Party – Baked Potato – January 17, 2012

After the surprise Kool and the Gang show from the previous week, it was time for the first planned show of 2012.  An encore shot at hearing the Rock Candy Funk Party with Joe Bonamassa at the tiny Baked Potato for a second time. (The first was back in August of last year and one of my top shows of 2011.)

This time my friend Dave was able to join me and to was a terrific time to catch up and share someone that I thought he’d really enjoy…and Joe did not disappoint me (or Dave) at all.

We grabbed maybe the best seats I’ll ever have at any show.  We were seated directly beside Arlen the keyboard player next to his B-3 and Mini-Moog.  It was pretty much like being on stage with the band.  Seated beside us was the guitarist from the Helecasters, and just down and across was Steve Perry (of Journey).  So, obviously the word had gotten out about seeing this band in such a small and casual setting.

Opening with “Root Down” the funky Jimmy Smith tune from the early 70’s (One which they’d played back in August) things kicked right into gear.  It seems like these guys are so talented that they could literally walk in cold to room and light it on fire within a couple of minutes (as you can see in this clip)

Next up was the Miles Davis track “Jean Pierre”.  And because there are so many nice recordings of this show on You Tube, I’ll just go ahead and post them cut by cut so you can judge for yourself the quality of this amazing show.

Next up was a great take on a blues staple, “Crossroads” (Although the vocals aren’t well mixed on any version I could find.)

At this point they brought up a guest vocalist, Beth Hart who released an album with Joe late last year.  She did two  songs with the band, the first “For My Friends” was smoking and the second was a last minute choice of “I’d Rather Go Blind” the classic Etta James song which was still fresh in my ears when I heard the news a couple days later about Etta James passing.  Beth Hart totally nailed the song and as with the Jimmy Smith and Miles Davis tracks performed earlier gave me a nice sense that guys like Joe can pick up the mantle from some of the greats who have passed and carry on doing justice to the great music of an earlier generation.

I wasn’t really sure where the band could go after that…but, they totally amazed me with an extended version of “Respect” that morphed into a wild jam on the classic Spencer Davis/Chicago version of “I’m a Man”.  (Here is in it’s nearly 18 minutes of flat out rocking glory.)

 

So, as Dave said on the way home….”I just need to process what I just saw…”

And for me, except for Jeff Beck last year, I don’t think I’ve seen anyone play guitar that well in quite a while…maybe Derek Trucks or Robert Randolph, but they are both different types of players (Slide & Petal Steel), so it’s not a fair comparison to either side.

So, to wrap up, I could pull out the thesaurus and try to find a whole bunch of new cool words to try and describe the experience of seeing a group like that from literally a couple feet away, but I don’t think I could even then do real justice to the experience.  I will say that if you get the chance, go see this guy….in a club, a theatre, an arena….heck, anyplace he plays.  I can guarantee, if you like blues, jazz, funk or flat out petal to the metal rock and roll, you won’t be disappointed by Joe Bonamassa.

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One last look back at 2011

Here’s my 2011 list of concerts.  A little shorter than some years, but I had a lot of work distractions in the past year, so it’s actually a pretty good tally all things considered.  There’s a lot of quality there and a few once in lifetime shows.  I’ll make a few individual notes where appropriate  (But, of course there’s a review of each if you’re so inclined to read more.

Phil Vassar – A nice little private show at the PCMA conference for people with a CMP designation.  Fun and loose show.

Robert Randolph & the Family Band

Chromeo – A bit of a letdown, but I’m still hoping to see them again and see how they evolve.

Richard Cheese & Lounge Against the Machine

Delgado Brothers

Jeff Beck & Imelda May – Once in a lifetime and one of the best shows I saw all year.

Prince – Another show that for all the hype was a bit of letdown.

Doheny Blues Fest – Tedeschi/Trucks, John Fogerty, Experience Hendrix, Mavis Staples, The Blasters, Funky Meters, Big Head Blues Club, (Plus others) – Two great days on the beach.  A couple misses, but mostly hits. Tedeschi/Trucks being the very best of day 1 and the Blasters the best of Day 2

KSBR Birthday Bash – Brenda Russell, Kieko Matsui, Brian Bromberg, Dan Siegel, (Plus others) – A really cool gift from my friend Eliott.

Eels – Confounding and complex.  It was great in some very unexplainable ways.

U2 & Lenny Kravitz (2x) – Night 2 was the better of the two nights, both were strong but night 2 has the edge (pun intended).

Weird Al

Kansas & Blue Oyster Cult – Not very good, one of the most disappointing shows of the year for me.

Rock Candy Funk Party – Going back in January, a top five evening and surprisingly it’s not once in a lifetime, looking forward to it very much.

Barenaked Ladies – Good, but not great.  More and more I miss Stephen Page.

Return to Forever & Zappa Plays Zappa – I’d say that along with Jeff Beck this were the most amazingly talented musicians I saw all year…or in many years.

Frank Turner – My best find of 2011.  Seeing him in February once again!

Fountains Of Wayne – I wanted this to be better, bit it wasn’t up to the pervious levels I’d seen them perform at.

Airborne Toxic Event – Another cool find of 2011 and this was the Filmore show in SF that was really cool.

Big Head Todd w/Ruthie Foster and Charlie Musselwhite – Again, a sort of letdown show and slightly disappointing overall.

Airborne Toxic Event, Tokyo Police Club, Built to Spill – Good headliner, the rest of the bill was hit and miss.

Bob Segar – Just reviewed, the man still has it!  Great show.

So there you have it.  My 2011 in a nutshell.

Looking ahead to 2011 I already have four shows slated.  Joe Bonamassa, Frank Turner, Social Distortion and Roger Waters.  Plus, I know Springsteen is touring.  So, lots to be excited about in the coming year.  Thanks as always for reading!  Happy New Year!

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Jeff Beck & Imelda May w/her band – April 8, 2011

How you describe perfection?

I have no idea, so I’m not really sure that anything I can write tonight can capture just how perfect the show was tonight.  Seriously, this was the sort of experience you always hope for when you buy a concert ticket.

I have an old story that I’ve told many times….basically, when I was a teen I heard the Rolling Stones were the “best” live act ever.  I disagreed with that premise simply based on the fact that I had already seen some amazing acts that I felt were better on a given night than the Stone could ever have been.  Besides, who can be that good night in and night out?  I decided that on a given night the “best” live band in the world could be in a bar in Iowa….the universe just lines up for them and every note falls into place.  So, (I decided) on any given night the “best” band in the world could be any band.  It’s a part of what keeps me going to shows.  The mystery, the chance that for a moment the band before me can be a greater sum than all it’s parts….that the clouds will part and I’ll hear angels singing in front of me.  I’ve seen it a few times, bands I love (Springsteen), bands I simply liked (Lynyrd Skynyrd  or Don Henley) who drew me in and then upped their game right before my eyes…and even bands that were a revelation who I really didn’t expect to be transcendent (Green Day a few years ago).

Tonight, angels sang and they played guitars at the Fox Theatre in Pomona.

The term “guitar god” gets tossed around pretty liberally, but if it applies to anyone…I’d cast a vote to for Mr. Beck to be included on the shortlist.  It wasn’t just that his playing was technically perfect, and that note-for-note covered the bases of the material he was playing.  But, it was in the way that he could wring emotion from the guitar within the context of the song, never over-stepping or falling into excess.  It’s a fine line I’ve seen many fall brutally across in an effort to impress with speed and/or prowess.  Instead, his playing simply served the song and showed the confidence in his skills that any need for flash was cast aside.  Whether on a Strat or a Gibson…strumming a hollow body or or playing bottleneck blues…he presented a master-class in early pop/rock guitar playing that was amazing see in person.

I had one sort of sad thought near the end of the show.  I doubt that I will ever be able to do any single thing in life anywhere near as well as he plays the guitar.

Of course, it took more than one player on stage to create such magic for me.  Imelda May  and her band were one for my very fun memories of both Glastonbury and Hop Farm.  Tonight they stepped up a level from “fun” to somewhere near “awesome”.  Darrel Higham (Imelda’s husband) provided confident rhythm support and lead vocals on songs like “Rockin is our Business” and “Hound Dog”.  Yes, the old Elvis chestnut that you’ve doubtless heard millions of times.

See, that’s one of the coolest things about the show.  Taking a bunch of old songs that you’ve heard bar bands butcher a dozen times and bring them back to life.  “Hound Dog”, “Rock Around The Clock”, “Train Kept a Rollin” and “Walking in the Sand” were firmly grasped and then pulled from the oldies bin…lovingly restored and played not as some museum time capsule, but as vibrant current rock and roll songs.  This wasn’t the fair circuit-oldies act recitation of “dusty old hits” that everyone knows.  This was a band of world class musicians paying tribute to the pioneers who had blazed the trail that so many (including the folks on stage) had followed.

The middle section of the show featured a tribute to Les Paul and Mary Ford.  With Imelda May pre-recording her vocals as Mary had years ago to accompany herself they ran through a classic series of hits from the 50’s.  “How High The Moon”, “Sitting on Top of the World”, “Bye Bye Blues”, “The World is Waiting for the Sunrise”, “Vaya Con Dios” and “Mockingbird Hill”…But, they saved the best for last with a thrilling version of “The Tiger Rag”.  No camp, no sly hipster winks…they had a real love of the songs that clearly came through each note.

Swapping the Les Paul Guitar for his more familiar Fender Strat and joined on stage by a horn section, they did a series of rock instrumentals.  “Peter Gunn”, “Apache” and a transcendent version of “Sleepwalk”, which was another of those very familiar songs that you’d have sworn you had no interest in hearing…until you actually heard them play it tonight.  They closed the set with a couple of movie songs: “The Girl Can’t Help It” and then “Rock Around the Clock”.

The encores were…A muscular version of the Shangri-La’s “Remember Walking in the Sand”, followed by “Hound Dog” with a slowed down vamp of an extra chorus and the Sister Rosetta Tharpe’s (and covered by Elvis) version of “Up Above My Head (I hear music in the air)”….Pop, rock, gospel and movie soundtracks….where do you go from there?

How about a ballad from 1910?  Unexpectedly (but in a way not really, seeing Imelda and her band are from Ireland)….they did one of the most moving versions of “Danny Boy” that I’ve ever heard.  Seriously…if I were Irish, I’d have been crying my eyes out…And, as it was I seem to have gotten a speck of dust in there somehow near the end of the song that made them water slightly anyway….wow…

As I said, hard to describe perfection….and I’m out of words to try tonight.

Here’s a taste:

 

An someone posted Danny Boy already on You Tube….gotta love this new technology…

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How do I top last year?

Well, it’s already been a couple weeks and I still haven’t really figured out how I can ever top the amazing year I had last year.

They just announced the Coachella line up….do I finally take a stab at it and go?  The headliners don’t look that interesting, but the rest of the bill has some great bands….hummm, stay tuned on that question.  I snagged a ticket to see Jeff Beck for the first time with Imelda May (who I saw at Glasto and Hop Farm).  Small place and a cheap seat at the back, but it’ll be cool to finally see another legend that I’ve never seen before.  I have to be more cautious after the expense of last year, so I suspect that this year will be more smaller shows  Frankly, those are often better shows to see.  So, we’ll see how it all plays out.  I’ll miss Glasto when it arrives and likely wish I could be back there….maybe someday?

I’ve seen one show so far, however it was a private concert at a trade show I attended in Las Vegas.  Phil Vassar, a country artist.  I have to admit that it was a heck of a show.  In a smallish ballroom at the MGM Grand with just Phil and  piano.  I wasn’t familiar with his music, but he played some hits (I’m told)….Little Red Rodeo, Six-pack Summer and My Next Thirty Years are all songs I recall hearing and listed on his greatest hits CD.  But, more than that…he was a heck of an entertainer.  He played so many covers, I can’t even bring them all to mind.  But, there was an awesome sing-along on his version of the Billy Joel song Piano Man.  He seemed genuinely happy to be on stage and really had a lot of audience interaction.  He even signed CD’s for everyone after.  And it wasn’t the quick “hurry them through” method.  He took time to chat and pose with everyone, asked questions and discussed things like where we were from and really seemed to be having fun.  A terrific experience and a cool guy.  I plan to check out more of his music, simply based on having such a positive experience.

Really buried with work, but it looks like I may see Robert Randolph and the Family Band in Orlando in a few weeks.  I’ll have more more to say about that I’m sure.  In the meantime…here’s some Robert Randolph as a bit of a tease…Hope you all enjoy it!

 

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