The second of two nights at the Midtown club fell on the day following the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington. Stills noted this in crediting the great musicians who pioneered the genre that he, fellow 1960s rock legend Barry Goldberg and relative child Kenny Wayne Shepherd now evoke as The Rides, who in concert also include drummer Chris Layton from from Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble (who now plays with Shepherd) and Crosby, Stills & Nash bassist Kevin McCormick.
The band formed when Stills sought out Goldberg, the legendary keyboardist who played for everyone from Mitch Ryder to The Ramones and co-founded the seminal 1960s blues-rock group Electric Flag, for a blues-rock oriented album project.
Well, if Stills wanted a blues band, he clearly got his wish. The Rides opened with “Roadhouse,” the lead track off the group’s new debut album Can’t Get Enough, co-written by the three principals. Evoking Mississippi’s blues-drenched Highway 49 (where legend says Robert Johnson sold his soul to the Devil at the intersection with Highway 61), the tune was slow, hard and steady, and set the pace for the mostly mid-tempo set that showcased the instrumental prowess of the key players.
On the other end of the spectrum was “Search And Destroy,” the album’s surprisingly effective cover of The Stooges’ pre-punk classic that showed that Stills and Shepherd (who sang) could power-chord with the best of them. Shepherd also explained that in addition to new songs and covers, The Rides project permits revival of classic catalog, in his case, “Blue On Black,” in Stills’, “Love The One You’re With,” this revealing a coarser voice than the 1970 hit, perhaps, but also twinning guitar leads with Shepherd followed by blazing instrumental face-offs.
Goldberg’s huge Gladys Knight & The Pips hit composition (with Gerry Goffin) "I've Got to Use My Imagination" gave him the chance to show off on Hammond B3—and Shepherd the pleasure of playing Albert King-style licks as well as sing. Goldberg, who stars in the acclaimed documentary Born In Chicago and plays in the all-star Chicago Blues Reunion group—and learned the blues at the feet of Muddy Waters--switched to piano on Waters’ “Honey Bee,” Stills having observed that a blues set couldn’t be called one without a Waters song.
Shepherd sang “Honey Bee” and matched Stills strum-for-speedy strum. He also sang Elmore James’ “Talk To Me Baby,” which was marked by Goldberg’s hot high-register Chicago blues chording.
Stills led the encores, starting with his Buffalo Springfield signature “For What It’s Worth," then he and the band blew the roof off on Neil Young’s “Rockin’ In The Free World.”
Incidentally, the show was taped for showing on the PBS series Front Row Center.
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