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  1. #1
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    Smile Tribute to Muddy Waters and Howl'in Wolf on PBS

    Saw Joe Bonomassa do a tribute show from Red Rocks, CO. Show was incredible. He played mostly songs from Muddy & Wolf, and a couple of his own songs. I found it to be an absolutely awesome show of Electric Blues

  2. #2
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    I have expressed my negative opinion about Joe Bonamassa's claim to be the "greatest living blues guitarist" elsewhere on this forum. I also saw this show and I found it to be the best I have heard Bonamassa play blues since he was a teenager. He actually played blues without the excessive display of chops for chops sake. His vocal impressions of Muddy Waters and Howlin' Wolf were good but I found his playing to be a bit overblown at times but he knows what his audience wants. One thing that I found to be a turn off was when he called for one of the band to take a solo but within a few bars started covering the guy up with his own licks. The only player that he refrained from doing this was the piano man whom he showed great respect for. The other guitar player in the band started a really good solo but Joe just couldn't resist taking the solo spot away from the guy. Bonamassa's originals were for the most part a bit pretentious and were certainly not blues. Joe is a really good player but he really isn't a blues player...he's more of a rock player. Nothing wrong with that but he shouldn't be billed as "the greatest living blues player", he is not. I found it interesting that he was turned onto the blues by the so-called British Invasion players such as the Rolling Stones who cited people like Muddy Waters and Howling Wolf as their main influences. I find it ironic and rather sad that an American had to learn about the blues from British players. i grew up on Jimmy Reed, Muddy Waters, Howlin' Wolf, Chuck Berry, Bo Diddley, Little Walter, Elmore James, Big Boy Crudup...the list goes on. I am a big fan of the Rolling Stones but I don''t look to them to learn blues...I look to the same sources the Stones looked to.

    i also found his little tutorial on bluesmen to be sort of the thing that the left-wing folk music establishment used to put out...the people who wanted Leadbelly to wear overalls when he played because it fit there image of the downtrodden poor cotton picking sharecropper. Leadbelly wanted to wear a suit, that's what a professionlal blues man would wear. While Bonamassa is lecturing us about the sharecropper picking cotton all day and playing the blues at night we see the photos of the bluesmen playing and they are dressed in cleaned and pressed suits. No one who had picked cotton all day went home and changed into a suit to play blues at night. They fell into their beds exhausted.

    The whole reason a man would wish to be a bluesman was to avoid having to pick cotton or have some other backbreaking occupation, to dress like a gentleman and command respect for himself and his music. If a bluesman couldn't afford a good suit, he must not be very good at his trade. Men like Robert Johnson would team up with Willie Brown or Johnny Shines and provide the music on Saturday night at the local Juke. There might be some sharecroppers in the audience but usually the bulk of the crowd was a little more well-heeled. Not all blacks were sharecroppers.

    Look at the professionally shot promotional photos which men like Robert Johnson, Lonnie Johnson and Blind Willie McTell and their record companies used, they are stylishlly dressed. No matter that they often traveled by hopping freights or "riding the blinds" to get to their next booking, they carried there working clothes with them and would have their suit pressed in time for their performance. Their clothes were part of their show. Somehow I don't thing Joe quite gets what really was happening there and the way these bluesmen came to Chicago from the Delta and founded the '50s Chicago blues scene replacing the prewar Chicago blues scene which was acoustic.
    "The business ain't nothin' but the blues!" - Roland Kirk
    http://mike-wilhelm.com

  3. #3
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    For me anyway, something about Bonamassa is lacking. The local PBS affiliate aired a Bonamassa special not many weeks ago and I only sat through half of it as the show just did not get me worked up.

    I look at Bonamassa and for some reason I keep picturing Buddy Guy up there on stage doing a number on him.

    I've seen Buddy a few times up close and other than his talent and showmanship on stage I note that he quite often gives his band members some time to shine without interruption.

    As a side note, I was born in Mississippi and have an uncle who was a farmer on the Alabama state line. He had one cotton field that had to be picked by hand and ended up short handed one year. His teen kids along with me and a few others picked cotton by hand for 2.5 cents a pound. It takes a lot of cotton bolls to even make a pound.
    Ninety degree heat, 80% humidity, little wind, and by the end of the day I was done and didn't care if the world ended then and there. Next day, repeat of the prior day.
    Last edited by bluesnut; 03-18-2015 at 02:04 PM. Reason: typo

  4. #4
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    I love Joe Bonamassa, I think he's great. Yep, he does a lot of rock and blues/rock - in addition to some straight blues - and IMHO that's where he shines best. His music is a bit more of a melting pot and that's cool. That said, he still can play some great blues. I'm not a blues purist, and I don't want blues to be forever stuck in 1950. I like that he comes at blues from a little different angle (the "English" interpretation for lack of a better word). It gives him a more unique voice in the current blues world. I've seen him live a couple times and he kills it. I haven't seen a DVD of his yet that captures what I've seen live. Blues (and its offshoots) is like that, though, it really comes across much more powerfully live.

    I watched a bit of the Muddy Wolf concert on PBS and it was a decent show, but not my favorite of his. Agreed I would have liked to have seen more from the other players. It seemed more like a Bonamassa concert with a different set list, versus a tribute to Muddy and Wolf. Kirk Fletcher is fantastic and while he gets some solos, I would liked to have seen more of him.

    I don't care about his marketing, it doesn't bother me in the least. In the music business of 2015 you have to do a lot to get out there. More power to him for filling venues entirely on his own, particularly with a style of music that's not mainstream pop, country or rock.

    Blues purists hate him, rock and metal players who don't know anything about blues hate him, bedroom noise makers hate him... meanwhile, he keeps putting out fantastic records and filling venues. Good for him.

  5. #5
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    I don't hate the guy, he is a great player...he's just a long ways from the blues most of the time. I don't begrudge his success, I don't like his music being described as blues, certainly the influence is there but it is there in all rock players.

    Likewise I don't think blues should be stuck in the '50s and it isn't. Buddy Guy is an example. He has mastered so many players' styles and merged them into his own unique approach which has plenty of show biz flash while remaining true to the music. There is nothing wrong with gimmickry and flash, that is traditional in the history of blues. I believe that Bonamassa genuinely believes he is a 21st Century bluesman but I think he hasn't understood quite what the blues actually is. There is a big hole somewhere in his blues education. He should study a bit with some folks like Taj Majal, Ry Cooder, Keb Mo' etc. who might fill in that hole. It is largely a matter of taste. I understand completely why his fans love him but they shouldn't confuse his music with blues.

    If you listen to, say, Roy Rogers, you'll hear plenty of flash (maybe a bit more than I like) but the guy understands what the blues is about...it is about feeling, it is about truth. It is not about how many notes one can string together. My blues mentor Brownie McGhee told me back when I was young and thought I had it down, "Quit playing all those damned notes boy! Just play the right ones."

    There was a guy who used to play lead guitar with Taj Majal years ago named Jesse Ed Davis. He didn't play one extra note but every note he did play absolutely had to be there. He played all the right notes and left the others out. His solos were outstanding examples of great blues playing. Don't forget that the spaces between the notes count too. If you fill every space you aren't really saying anything.
    Last edited by Blue Willy; 03-19-2015 at 12:32 PM.
    "The business ain't nothin' but the blues!" - Roland Kirk
    http://mike-wilhelm.com

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    Cool 3 Masters

    Here is an example of 3 blues masters playing a blues standard, Lonnie Mack stands out. Lonnie plays Rock 'n' Roll, Country and Blues with equal mastery. In this pure blues example he also shows off his incredible vocal ability and his guitar chops. His guitar sound is uniquely his own, in part because of his mastery of the Bigsby Vibrato Tailpiece. His instrumental hit Wham gave the vibrato arm its nickname, the "whammy bar". The backing band on this jam is really outstanding. Note the spaces each of these master guitar players leave when they solo. Often a silence says more than a lot of notes.

    "The business ain't nothin' but the blues!" - Roland Kirk
    http://mike-wilhelm.com

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    Great video. Thank you. Especially liked how different and yet how the two keyboardists were.

  9. #8
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    Bonamassa is a fine guitarist who leaves me cold. For me he's like a fake log fire, looks good but no heat.

  10. #9
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    Muddy and Wolf...like Robert Johnson...are so powerful. There's just not words for them and I can't see how we can do anything better than just keepin their sounds in mind as we play our own Blues.

    BTW, I just finished the Howlin Wolf biography. It's enlightening about his personality and the very tough career he had. I didn't know what a solid business professional he was.

    And I'm still tryin to find the album that best showcases Hubert Sumlin's lead guitar.

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    Good to see Roy smile.
    I miss that guy.
    Albert, too...musta seen him 5 times.
    Damn.

 

 

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