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I started a quest to find terrific blues music and incredible musicianship when I was just a little kid. I also have a tremendous appreciation of fine musical instruments and equipment. One of my greatest joys all of my life was sharing my finds with my friends. I'm now publishing my journey. I hope that you come along!

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Showing posts with label Los Angeles. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Los Angeles. Show all posts

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Joe Bonamassa - Live From New York - Beacon Theatre

Joe's newest release (DVD), Live From New York - Beacon Theatre opens with him standing in a subway playing what appears to be a Martin D41 and a very nice little intro tune called 72nd Street Subway Blues. The show begins immediately with Slow Train and Joe playing at the beautiful Beacon Theatre. Again Bonamassa playing a mystery guitar, an amber burst "Bona - Byrd" which looks like a Les Paul with only a bridge pickup (humbucker) and a Les Paul Neck but with a 6 on a side Firebird headstock with Banjo Tuners. Sounds great! There is a mystery to guitars with only one pickup...don't know what it is...but I am a fan (Esquire, Firebird I, etc). Joe no longer wears his frumpy Tee shirt and jeans but continues in his wall street attire. His playing is masterful.

Rory Gallagher's Cradle Rock is up next and he don's a custom shop 59 Les Paul. It has the beautiful flamed faded butter scotch/tobacco finish that we all love so much of the older instruments...not too ostentatious... very clean. It sounds great and he also whips out the slide and gives it a whirl. Not meaning to take at all away from the sonic or video quality of the DVD which is impeccable! Bonamassa is playing through multiple amps but primarily appears to be Marshalls with Vanweeklen Twinkleland, a signature Carol Ann and a signature Catagory 5 (no Dumble this trip). When The Fire Hits The Sea is played pretty straight and using the same gear. Gary Moore's Midnight Blues is up next and Bonamassa rips out some tasty riffs paying nice tribute to Moore. Gotta give the video guy credit for making sure to give guitar heads some pretty good shots of the gear. Bonamassa's vocals have continued to improve with each release and although I liked his vocals in early tracks it certainly should help his commercial appeal. Bonamassa of course has a masterful control of his instrument and the band plays well underneath him and he just turns out clear screaming riffs for the listeners pleasure! Joe has always had great chops but they shine brightly on this track. On Dust Bowl Bonamassa pulls out his Gibson Custom Shop signature model Goldtop Les Paul with mis matched knobs, black guard and humbuckers (like the one he had as a kid) and Bigsby trem arm. I've heard these are great but I haven't played one (also not a big Bigsby fan) but whatever rocks your boat. I like that the camera work catches every detail such as the squared corners on the humbuckers which look really great. Bonamassa plays a great guitar solo to keep the fans hot and the guitar sounds great. The mix is really strong! The River is up next with Bonamassa continuing on his Goldtop but this time with slide. I doubt that it's the first time it's been thought but the rhythm track sound quite a bit like a popular British band who may have had the best drummer in rock history and certain melody lines having nods to a famous dead Strat player who revolutionized rock music (can you say Voodoo Chile).

Great drumming by Tal Bergman on Vater drums and Sabian cymbals. Every song erupts from something else and Bonamassa does a great job on this. Next Bonamassa brings on Beth Hart to sing with the band. I'll Take Care Of You, an old Brook Benton soul classic with Rick Melick who holds down the "string" section on keys. Melick plays a Hammond B3 though much of the set but subs off on electric piano. Hart's vocals and the general tone of the song bring out some beautiful soloing from Bonamassa playing a different 59 custom shop Les Paul with a more classic look and less flame. Great tones again! Next up is a Lowell Fulsom song, Sinner's Prayer which is given a totally different take by Hart and her powerful vocal style. Bonamassa grabs back to the woodpile for yet another guitar, this time a Gibson '60 ES 360T for a little slide action. Bonamassa gets great fatness from this another tobacco burst instrument (guy has good taste)!

You Better Watch Yourself sees Bonamassa back on his '59 Les Paul and the first real up tempo Texas style blues track for the set. I think that it is a great breaker and again shows how effortlessly Bonamassa rips through the fretboard without sounding like he has to play every note he knows. Steal Your Heart Away is up next and Joe puts a slightly different spin on it (still on the 59). Leonard Cohens Bird On A Wire is up next as Bonamassa slows down for a ballad. On this Joe plays a Gigliotti Telecaster (semi hollow) which are made with brass or aluminum tops. Quite a cool sled. On Down Around My Place, John Hiatt joins Joe on stage playing a J200 with what appears to be a bear claw top and figured maple back and sides...really nice. Joe plays a pretty sweet solo on the most used 59 LP and sings high harmony over Hiatt. Nice track. Hiatt sticks around for a second song, I Know A Place but this time Bonamassa takes the lead vocals on the Hiatt composition (again on the 59). Joe rips out some solid power chords and the balance continues to sound intact and creamy. Some of Joe's most creative solos occur on this track and it's nice to see him pushing himself.

I haven't mentioned it yet mostly because he just does his job well, but bassist Carmine Rojas is right on it all through the performance. He is very solid and is responsible for keeping things so tight. Rojas plays a red 5 string Xotic bass through Gallien-Krueger gear for the entire set. Blue and Evil begins the blues rock set again and again the solid drumming take the lead. Joe gets some terrific solid low tones from his alternate 59 LP and off to the races they go. Rojas plays a little more lead lines on this track as Joe backs off of the throttle a little and it makes for a nice jam. Paul Rogers (Free / Bad Company / Firm/ Soloist) joins Joe on stage for Walk In My Shadow. Paul is one of the few great vocalists to survive the 60's and retain his solid vocal capabilities. The band takes it with a more of a modified Chicago Blues style and it's a cool track. Free song Fire and Water finds the band fully fronted by Rogers who looks like he's been playing with the band for years. Of course you keep waiting for Kossof to jump out from the curtains but Bonamassa certainly can foot the bill. Rogers even plays tambourine which you rarely see any more. Mountain Time finds Bonamassa switching camps to a beautifully flamed black maple capped MusicMan baritone guitar with humbuckers for one his terrific epic intros. This of course is another ballad but it gives Rojas a great chance to show his chops and Joe plays some subdued but dramatic guitar riffs which are cool. The encore, Mose Allison's Young Man Blues, finds Bonamassa playing a ES 1275 and tearing it up pretty good. A duel turns up on stage with Joe and Rojas jamming in mid stage. They use the natural breaks in the track to emphasize the power of the band. Joe does take a short jaunt on the 12 string neck and gives the spotlight to Bergman for a few moments and he does a great job. (All of this is on disk one of a great 2 disk set!)

Disk two has all of the supplemental stuff and here it is!
This opens with one of my favorites, a Warren Haynes (Gov't Mule) tune, If Heartaches Were Nickles. Joe begins this song rather quietly and slowly builds the heat. Playing 59 LP number 2 he opens the barn door and lets out a great, wailing, soulful solo which is more feel than flare. The band uses the dynamics of a wall of sound to emphasize the emotion in the song. Next up Bonamassa pulls out an acoustic Alvarez Koa single cut and demonstrates his latin styling before breaking into Woke Up Dreaming. The guitar has a great percussive sound. The third feature on this disk is a meeting with David Crosby where they discuss alternate tunings as used on Guinevere. (Guitar looks like it is stuffed with paper towels). Another excerpt from the show is Joe telling the tail of busking the subway (the opening scene). The final "add on" is a photo slide show of Joe's trip to NYC. The DVD set comes with a 26 page full color booklet with all kinds of photos and descriptive info. This is a really entertaining video and one that will not only please current Bonamassa fans but is sure to win many many more.

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Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Catfood Records artist: James Armstrong - Blues At The Border- new release review

I just got a pre release copy of copy of James Armstrong's new release called "Blues At The Border". (Release date December 6, 2011). I've listened to the cd about 3 times and it really is good. It has a really relaxed manner about it and it has a great bluesy swing. James has a smooth voice and plays really tasty guitar riffs over a tight rhythm section. The recording features 11 tracks which were all written by Armstrong or his production affiliates. Armstrong, a native of LA was born into a blues performing family and was performing at 8 and touring at 17. He has worked with Albert Collins, Keb Mo', Cooco Montoya, Roy Brown, Chaka Khan, Ricky Lee Jones, Jan and Dean, Mitch Mitchell and Tommy Castro to name a few. James is a real entertainer! This is a recording that you should check out!