Tag Archives: Joe Bonamassa

The catch-all, clean up post for 2012

Been a busy, busy year.  I didn’t get every show reviewed, but I did get a number of the highlights.

In an effort to wipe the slate clean, here’s a list and a word or two about each one.  And, a hope that I can keep up better in 2013!


Kool and the Gang – PCMA – reviewed

Joe Bonamassa – Baked Potato – reviewed


Frank Turner – SLO Brewery – reviewed

Estelle – Anthology – My niece is in her band, so I was there to have fun and relax.

Frank Turner – Slidebar – reviewed

Frank Turner – Fox Pomona – reviewed


Springsteen – IZOD Center – reviewed

Springsteen – Madison Square Garden – reviewed

Springsteen – Sports Arena – reviewed

Springsteen – Sports Arena – reviewed

Coachella – Three days, four posts…and still didn’t cover it all.  Interesting experience…but not sure I’d do it again.  A few good bands stick out in my mind.  The Head and the Heart, Dawes, Pulp, Bon Iver, M83, Madness, Kasabian, Givers.  And others….like Radiohead really didn’t do much for me.  Coupled with the hit-and-miss, the long walks and the heat.  This will stay on my “glad I did it list”, but not my “I want to go again” list.


Jackson Browne – Largo –  Took a good friend to help give him a break and sadly we had to leave early to rush home for an ill family member. What I did see was  personal and moving.  The last song before the set break really sticks in my mind.  A version of Leonard Cohen’s “Thousand Kisses Deep”.  There’s a version on iTunes you can buy (not from this show, but live….I highly recommend it.)


Head and the Heart – Observatory – reviewed

Beach Boys – Irvine Meadows – Took my nephew and just hung out.  They played a generous and overall fun show.  Nothing to review though.

Spyro Gyra/Lee Rittenour – Hyatt Newporter –  Seen both numerous times over the years…always fun and always the highest quality.

Dukes of September – Universal Amphitheater – Donald Fagen, Boz Scaggs and Michael McDonald….what else can I add to that line up.  Great show, great fun.


Howard Jones – Coach House – Doing two of his best albums complete.  Human’s Lib and Dream into Action.  I went on a whim, my sister passed away the day before I just needed some music.  Not in any shape that night to review, but it was a good show.


Weird Al – OC Fair – I was supposed to see another show at the Fair that missed due to my sister.

Delgado Brothers – Brea Street Fair – Good friends, good music, but not really a show to review…just one to enjoy.


Jack’s Show – Irvine Meadows – Joe Walsh, Pat Benatar, Toto, Mc Hammer, Gin Blossoms and Missing Persons.  Pretty cool show with friends.  The only real miss was MC Hammer, late and not a very good show.  Everyone else was fun.  The Gin Blossoms, Toto and Benatar all totally killed it.  Jow Walsh was a little self indulgent, as was Missing Persons.

Frank Turner – HOB Anaheim – reviewed

Estelle – Greek Theatre – Another trip to see my talented niece perform with Estelle….however LA traffic limited us to the last two songs…We didn’t stay to watch Anthony Hamilton headline…


Elvis Costello – Irvine Barkley – reviewed

Head and the Heart – Wiltern – My third time seeing them this year….and of the same quality as the two shows I’d reviewed.

Joe Jackson – Orpheum – Doing mostly Duke Ellington from his new album, it was a very good and crowd pleasing show.


Counting Crows – Grove of Anaheim – Wish I’d reviewed them…a great show, really a surprise how good they were live.  Loved it.

(I was supposed to see Steve Windwood at the Greek and I was so sick that I had to pass…disappointing.)


Graham Parker and the Rumor – Wilbur Theatre – reviewed

Graham Parket and the Rumor/Lindsey Buckingham/Ryan Adams – Roxy – reviewed

Delgado Brothers – Harvelle’s – New Years Eve show tomorrow night!


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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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ROCK CANDY FUNK PARTY – Baked Potato, August 18, 2011


I was tempted to leave it at that, but I decided that’s just a bit too enigmatic and that I’d better go ahead and explain what an amazing show I saw tonight.

Think back to when you were in high school.  Remember when a bunch of guys would gather in someone’s garage and bunch of other folks would sit around on a ragtag collection of lawn chairs while the “band” jammed on FM staples of the day?  Or, maybe in college when a bunch of guys would congregate in a living room and blast out some eclectic collection of blues and metal staples…(Smoke on the Water ring any bells?…)

Well, in all those struggling guys minds, all of those guys who couldn’t quite make their fingers on the fretboard do what they mind was requesting….this show is what they sounded like in their mind and their imagination…it was the real life version of the fantasy world where those mortal guitar players could play like the guitar gods they wanted to be.

I saw that fantasy show tonight.

If you’ve never been to the Baked Potato, it’s legendary for a couple things.  The quality of musicians that play there and the small size.  Think of your typical neighborhood bar…and shrink it.  Yeah, it’s that small….50 people small…nowhere to hide small.  It’s the sort of place you go see your friend’s band to be supportive and watch them train wreck on some Allman Brothers song.  It’s not a place that you see a guy who headlines Albert Hall, a guy who plays with Glenn Hughes (Deep Purple) and Jason Bonham (if you don’t recognize that name, stop reading now and go look it up…seriously….)

Yeah, I saw one of the top guitar players in the world in a 50 seat bar.

Rock Candy Funk Party is a way for Joe Bonamassa to hang with some other amazing musicians and jam.  Tal Bergman on Drums, Mike Merritt on Bass, Ron DeJesus on guitar and Arlan Schierbaum on keys made up the band.  And what a band!

After setting onto my cramped stool by the bar and eating one of the namesake baked potatoes, we watched the band filter in and take the stage (call it a wide spot in the room) just after 9:30

Launching into a jamming version of “Have it all” that finally gave way to Sly & the Family Stone’s “Thank You (Falettinme Be Mice Elf Agin)”.  The band was joined by a fellow with some great pipes whose name I could never quite hear, but he totally rocked that Sly song.  Next up was “Big Payback” by James Brown and once again the vocalist nailed it.  Flat out some of the best funk I’ve ever heard and certainly the best I’ve heard when practically sitting in the middle of the band.

The vocalist departed and we were treated to Jimmy Smith’s “Root Down” followed by a wonderfully soulful version of Tracy Chapman’s “Gimmie One Reason”.

Like I said, this was the fantasy version of every garage/bar band you’ve ever heard.  It’s five guys totally having fun and totally in tune with each other…weaving in and out of jams and solos.  You were close enough to see the facial expressions, the subtle hand signals, the traded grins to go along with traded licks.  One small moment stuck in my head…at one point without missing a beat the keyboard player reached behind him and hovered his hand over the drummers crash cymbal…simply as an extra hand to stop it’s ring on cue as the drummer had his hands full elsewhere.  It was totally subtle, but it spoke volumes in it’s simple communication between guys totally in the groove with each other.  The cliche is to “play all night”….this one time I truly wish that could have been the case.  This was music you wanted to let fold around you and take you wherever it wanted you to go.

The setlist next listed a jam they called “Led Boots”…you get the idea there, right?

Then, in a great show of what volume and dynamics can do…Joe played maybe the best version of BB King’s “The Thrill is Gone” that I have ever heard.  I’ve seen BB in the past decade, but wasn’t lucky enough to see him back in his heyday.  So, tonight really may have been the best version I will ever hear live…by anyone.  Starting out so quiet that you could hear a pin drop, and then growing to full volume before taking it back down to a modest level..there wasn’t a note out of place.  Look for it on YouTube (there’s a version from earlier this year up there now)…hopefully this one will make it up somehow as well.

This show is in the same class as the Jeff Beck show for drop dead talent….but, did I mention this was that good AND in a 50 SEAT CLUB……WOW

The show wrapped with one more jamming version of a classic…”Them Changes” by Buddy Miles and the Band of Gypsys.

Terrific show…and not much more that I can say tonight, except.



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