We were invited to capture one of the best nights for the Blues at the Ruth Eckerd Hall, in Clearwater that featured two generations to mold this genre to their personal sound. These would be Johnny Lang and Buddy Guy. This evening was indeed the perfect blending of the younger transformation of the blues with the slick smooth style of one of the greatest to ever create the Blues on electric strings. Both provide great song writing and a completely inviting performance that grabs a few hall absorbing laughs.
I am becoming a great fan of the Ruth Eckerd Hall, it's a great place to see a show on a bit more of an intimate level with some of the best sound generated indoors as well. It's decorated beautifully for the Holiday Season and the staff is a pleasant anything from start to finish. Add the quality of entertainment you receive, which also includes some great Theater as well and it's the perfect equation for a fabulous evening, no matter what the purpose of your visit. There is plenty of seating in the Hall which can be an issue in some others, should the entertainment be on a grander scale. Be sure to check out their calendar here and take a drive to Clearwater for a great evening, good show in a sweet little theater hall. Thanks to Katie, Megan and all staff at the Ruth Eckerd Hall for a great visit, every time.
This evening was rather special indeed, as I am a long time Buddy Guy fan and also have followed Johnny Lang's career rather closely and we do not get many nights featuring the Blues, in this fan's opinion. I grew up with many of the greats listening with my Pop and later some music friends turned me onto some others, such as: John Coltrane, Buddy Guy, Muddy Waters, Robert Cray and Bo Diddley and later onto Jimi Hendrix, Stevie Ray Vaughan and Eric Clapton, Bonnie Raitt and Johnny Lang. I was fortunate to be exposed to all genres of music sitting home nights with my Pop and this night would be a celebration of both song and lens.
This was my first time to see Johnny Lang play live and what an example of human electricity he is on a live stage, I seriously do not think his guitar needs plugging into anything! He becomes one with the strings and the sound he produces from it, similar to that of Joe Satriani, but in his own style. Johnny Lang treated us to songs from his current release: Fight for my Soul, which is his first release in seven long years and also some great trips back through his earlier library such as 'A Quiter Never Wins'. This young man is on a nice channel within his craft of the Blues and that guitar and he is most welcomed back to the touring circuit, indeed!
The band backing Mr. Lang is rather impressive to boot! The bassist watches Johnny make the guitar sing all night, complimenting perfectly and on the drums was the perfect force of Barry Alexander, this is something any music fan should take in at one point or another, without the Blues you would not have certain genres today.
The way in which and how rapidly his own sound moves him during a performance is hypnotizing and a challenge to capture and this only makes for a better show experience. Some of the best art even in live performance can be the most challenging to capture given many factors and this was just one of the best opening acts on a more than stellar double bill we have been a part of at the Ruth Eckerd Hall. This show was a true musical treat and greatly appreciated. You can hear cover songs in every bar around, to hear some of the best classic and new Blues played to the best ability possible is something to savor. Johnny Lang packs all he possibly can into your ninety minutes of complete awe, as you are basically left with your chin in your lap, it's that breath taking and more! Get the remaining dates for the Johnny Lang - Fight for my Soul Tour 2013 right here.
There was even more magic to come, as Mr. Buddy Guy was yet to take the stage! I have listened to Buddy Guy as long as I can recall knowing what music I was hearing, I spent many evenings at home with my father with dimmed lights and his turn table spinning out these Blues greats, along with Big Band, Jazz and even some Blue Grass and Country classics tucked in there. I have been fortunate to see Buddy Guy on two other occasions, both in more of a bigger tour and usually featuring a kick ass all star jam at the end. The most memorable date was back in 1990, just days prior to Stevie Ray Vaughans untimely passing. I saw that tour at the Mann Music Center just days before this tragedy and it is another night that lives in me forever, as it was just a gathering of guitar greatness on one stage with some of the finest musicians to ever bless an American stage.
This was a night long awaited, to take it all in again and have the opportunity to capture it and keep this one in a very special place. Buddy Guy is currently 77 and not only smooth on guitar, but rather entertaining in the humor department...he even threw in a few hip thrusts to stir the crowd! The legend we waited to see also came out and opened with our favorite tune: 'Damn Right I've got the Blues' and we were off on a Blues wonderland for the next ninety minutes! Mr. Guy is just so happy to be playing for you that is just turns into a Blues party with the crowd not missing one step along the way either.
One thing is for sure to look back over this man's contribution to the Blues and music in general, it reads so impressively, but what it reveals is an artist sharing his genius within his craft and a dash of natural talent with the world for as long as he is able and it's a true honor to catch the pioneer of Chicago Blues at all, whether performing with a guitar or just in his presence, period. Buddy Guy is a true master of the Blues, as he can take this genre, with it's sad and lonely undertones and make it enjoyable and even funny at times, all within his own impeccable, yet simple style in allowing the craft to speak through him to you in this crowd.
This night provided yet another evening coming full circle within my life's dance with music, so special thanks out to: Katie, Megan and all staff at the Ruth Eckerd Hall, Johnny Lang and Buddy Guy camps for allowing us to enjoy and capture such a fabulous show and for making this a great evening across the board.
DAMN RIGHT WE HAD THE BLUES!!!
But we got over it at this show!