By Nick McCabe - Front Row Photo
Saturday night Reno was treated to an all too rare experience in the form of Beth Hart opening up for The Rides (Stephen Stills, Kenny Wayne Shepherd, and Barry Goldberg’s new band) at The Grand Sierra Resort. It’s not often that you can get a ‘two for one’ deal like this. As I waited at will call for my press access mystery to unravel (it finally did) I heard more than one comment by the folks in line that they were there for Beth Hart. This in no way detracts from the headlining act, but rather I feel it endorses my personal belief that Beth Hart is a yet to be fully appreciated force on the horizon. You’ve probably heard her, but just don’t realize it.
Beth Hart and her band hit the stage a little after 9:00 PM and played a short thirty minute set. “OH MY GOD!" (That’s the original version of OMG kids.) They were amazing. I got so caught up in the music and in taking my pictures that I completely forgot to make note of what songs they were playing until they got to ‘Bang Bang Boom Boom’, the title track from her current release which was the forth selection on their set list. She is like a controlled burn – a nuclear reaction – a passionate spirit sharing that passion, and she was quite successful at it, I might add. The group I was with, not being familiar with her was equally as smitten with her performance. One of the high points was 'Caught Out In The Rain', a slow moving ballad about an addictive, painful, loving relationship written by Beth Hart and James House. It featured a guitar solo so filled with emotion you could almost feel the guitar crying. Another show stopper was a phenomenal performance of I’d Rather Go Blind. If you happened to have seen The Kennedy Center Honors this last year, you saw her perform this with Jeff Beck for honoree, Buddy Guy. She received a standing ovation that included the President of the United States, the First Lady, and Buddy Guy. Saturdays show was over much too soon.
She first came to America’s attention when she won Star Search with Ed McMahon at the age of 21. I first discovered Beth on a DVD titled Live At The Paradiso about nine years ago. It is a jaw dropping performance. I couldn’t believe the emotion, passion and enthusiasm bursting out of her. I instantly went out and bought her CD, Leave The Light On and then…poof, she was gone! She continued to tour successfully in Europe, but not a lot was going on in the United States. I couldn’t find anything new. As it turned out, due to drugs, alcohol, recovery, depression, and more recovery she had some career ups and downs that are now behind her. When I saw her on The Kennedy Center Honors I shouted, “That’s her! She’s back!” She is back. She’s clean, and killing it. With the help and support of some big players in the business (Joe Bonamassa and Jeff beck to name a couple) she is poised to take America by storm.
From wild child, to crazy chick, to wild woman, Beth Hart has transformed and evolved over the years, but has always remained true to her creative spirit. She writes and sings the blues with conviction and a firsthand knowledge of what it is to live the blues. Show your support for Beth and maybe next time she comes around she’ll headline with a 90 minute set. We can only hope.
...and the beat goes on.
For a more fulfilling slideshow, click here!