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.