Tag Archives: Eric Clapton

After 50 years, Clapton is still god…


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 Eric Clapton‘s 50th anniversary tour came through Dallas, Texas March 19th at the American Airlines Center. This tour is not getting the publicity of The Rolling Stones 50th anniversary tour, and it seems typical of Clapton to not toot his own horn like Mick and Keith do. Although it is not getting the attention of the media like The Stones tour, it is an equally important milestone in Rock n Roll history. On a beautiful spring evening in Dallas, the 67 year old guitar god proved that he is every bit the musician he has ever been.

Musician is a title that is earned and I don’t use lightly. Eric Clapton is a virtuoso musician of the highest level. In his understated, “Slow Hand” way he took us on a kaleidoscopic tour of his rich musical legacy. And what a tour it is…

I scored my tickets from a good friend I work out with. He called late Monday afternoon with the good news. Making it to a concert on a Tuesday night can be a little challenging and unfortunately we were late for the opening act The Wallflowers. This is Bob Dylan‘s son, Jakob Dylan‘s band. We sat down in our seats just in time to hear their best know song “One Headlight” . They sounded great, but we only heard  their last four songs. It was a pleasant surprise to see that the arena was completely full for The Wallflowers. Apparently, most of the fans that attended the show had no problem being on time for the 7:30PM start time. This is the first concert I’ve been to in years where so many fans turned out for the opening act. Very impressive, and a great indication of the popularity of this great band.

After a brief intermission, Eric quietly strolled onto the stage with his incredible band:  Doyle Bramhall II (guitar), Steve Jordan (drums), Chris Stainton (piano and keyboards), and Willie Weeks (bass), along with the amazing  Paul Carrack (organ and keyboards), Greg Leisz (pedal steel guitar), and Michelle John and Sharon White (backing vocalists).  Instead of kicking off the show with a bang, Eric started out the concert with two acoustic dominated songs: “Hello Old Friend” (A greeting to the crowd) and “My Father’s Eyes”.  Both songs featured great pedal steel solos by Greg Leisz.  After the first two songs, Clapton greeted the crowd by talking about how much he loved Dallas and that he considered it a second home.  He then kicked it up a notch as the band launched in to “Tell The Truth” from his great Album Layla.  This song featured outstanding  solos from all three guitarists.  Doyle Bramhall was amazing as  he played his guitar Hendrix style (he plays left handed, with a right handed guitar that is turned upside down, so the bass strings are on the bottom and the treble strings are on the top).  Up next was a song from Clapton’s new album “Old Sock” called Gotta Get Over.  This song stood up well against all the other well known hits that Clapton played.    A powerful cover of the Albert Collins song Black Cat Bone featured amazing guitar work by Clapton and Bramhall.  Clapton then went back to his Derek and the Dominos days and performed Got to Get Better in a Little While.  This song was smoking hot!  It was a huge bonus that Clapton was touring with Paul Carrack.  Paul is a living legend in England.  He is sadly, only moderately well known in the U.S.A.  Paul took the first of three turns at lead vocal with “Tempted” from his days with Squeeze.  This magnificent song was magnificently sung by one of the best “Blue Eyed Soul” singers on the planet.  It is also very appropriate that Eric Clapton occasionally played the roll of  “side man” to another singer/song writer.  It hearkened back to the days    when he toured with Delaney and Bonnie.  He had several times in his 50 year career that he just wanted to be the guitar player in the band.  Next Clapton played the first song from his days with Cream as the band almost blew the roof off the arena with an extended version of Badge.  This song brought the crowd to it’s feet for the first time in the show.

Clapton took a chair next and did an “unplugged” set that included Driftin’ Blues, (Written by Johnny Moore’s Three Blazers) a uptempo reggae version of Tears  in Heaven that was only marginally effective, a great version of Lay Down Sally, Wonderful Tonight, and Layla.

Paul Carrack then returned to sing his great hit from his days with Ace:  How Long (Has this been goin’ on?).  Clapton turned in one of his best solos of the night during this song.

Then the concert went to a whole different level and I had one of the concert experiences that stay with you for a very long time… Clapton walked up to the microphone and said “Now, it’s Robert Johnson time!”  I’m sure there were many in the arena that missed the significance of that moment, but it was not lost on me.  Without Robert Johnson there would be no Rock-n-Roll.  Few people know that 13 of his known recordings were made on the third floor of 508 Park Ave. in Dallas.  Eric Clapton has been personally involved in saving and protecting this important historical property.  Clapton and his band tore through Stones in My Passway, Love in Vain, Crossroads, and a powerful cover of Little Queen of Spades.  This was what you paid to see.  Powerful, raw blues guitar by the greatest living blues player on the planet.  The last song before the encores was J.J. Cale’s song Cocaine.

The band return for two encores, Sunshine of Your Love, which was amazing, and Paul Carrack sent us all home with a rousing cover of the Joe Cocker song “High Time We Went”.

This tour is coming to an arena near you.  I think it’s high time you went…

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Posted in Life Events, Live Performance Reviews, Rock Music | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

Big Head Todd is a Monster of Rock!

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If you don’t know who Big Head Todd and the Monsters are, then you need to get to know them. I was not familiar with their music until last year. Now I have all of their music except the new CD of Robert Johnson covers. Big Head Todd was formed in 1986 released their first studio album in 1989 so they have stood the test of time. What I think Todd Mohr (The Lead Singer/Lead Guitar Player/ Song Writer) has accomplished is the perfect melding of alternative rock with blues rock. Simply put, The man can play the blues. The set they performed at the House of Blues was appropriately Blues infused! I think Todd had the blues in his heart and mind because he had just released “Big Head Todd Blues Club – 100 Years of Robert Johnson” in 2011 and his buddy, the great Hubert Summlin, had just died. Hubert was the guitar player for Howlin’ Wolf. Keith Richards was putting together a surprise birthday party for Hubert at the Apollo Theater in New York when Hubert passed away. The birthday party became a tribute concert. Todd was invited by Keith Richards and Eric Clapton to participate. That concert occurred in New York on February 24th right before I saw this concert on March 1st, 2012. I think the blues were on his mind.

I got invited to the show by a friend of mine who is one of their biggest fans and he is also the guy that turned me on to them as well. I had heard a few of their better known songs like “Bittersweet”, but I had never sat down and listened to an entire recording of theirs until Wojo came along.  Thanks Wojo where ever you are! My friend Wojo is also a Founders Club member of The House of Blues. What that means is that we had a first class experience at the show. We had access to a private entrance to the club, a private bar, reserved seats, and table service for cocktails. That’s why some of the pictures are so good. I was sitting right next to the mixing board.

There was no opening act. Todd and the Monsters walked on stage at exactly 9:00pm and promptly blew the doors of the building. The sound quality was excellent. The musicianship was even better. Todd wields a major Ax! (It’s no wonder that Keith Richards and Eric Clapton invited him to participate in the Summlin tribute.)  They played all of their hits as well as a good bit of material from their newer CD’s.  The show lasted 2 hours but it went by way too fast.

Big Head Todd and the Monsters are on tour right now.  Don’t you dare miss them.  You will have a first class rock experience even if you’re not a Founders Club member.  Buy their music too.  You will not be disappointed.  I for one am going to get the Robert Johnson CD as soon as possible. Also, check out their website:  http://www.bigheadtodd.com  – There is great video of the Hubert Summlin tribute as well as all of the music from this amazing band.

Sorry for the long hiatus form my blog.  It couldn’t be helped.  I was traveling a lot in the first 3 months of this year and I have really been working way too much.  My focus is back on music and my blog now.  I have several other blogs that I need to post, so expect much higher activity in the near future.

Happy Easter and Long Live The Blues!

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Posted in Blues Music, Live Performance Reviews, Rock Music | Tagged , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

The Great Doyle Bramhall died in his sleep. November 12, 2011. Life itself is something we should all be thankful for…

The Great Doyle Bramhall

Doyle Bramhall. Song writer, musician.

The Great Doyle Bramhall died in his sleep at his home in Alpine, Texas at the young age of 62.  Age 62 sounds younger to me every year I’m lucky enough to get older.  I wanted to write about him because it is a shame that a lot of people who read this will say “Who was Doyle Bramhall?”  This guy was a great blues musician.  He grew up with Jimmy and Stevie Ray Vaughn.  He was a drummer in several early bands that Jimmy played  in like The Chessmen and The Nightcrawlers.  Both the Vaughn brothers were in the Nightcrawlers.  During this time period Doyle wrote the song “Dirty Pool” that appeared on Stevie Ray Vaughn’s first album “Texas Flood”.  He was one of the movers and shakers behind the early Austin music scene.  He was a musician’s musician.  Other songs he wrote or co-wrote include:  Life by the Drop, I’d Rather be Blind, Crippled and Crazy, Marry You,  I Wanna Be.  There are many more songs you would recognize but didn’t know that Doyle wrote them. Don’t confuse Doyle, Sr. with his son, Doyle Bramhall II, who is also a great musician.  Doyle II plays guitar for The Arc Angels.  He has play guitar on many famous albums for people like Gregg Allman and Eric Clapton.   Here are just a few songs of Doyle Sr.’s  that I enjoy.  I hope you enjoy them too.  It reminds me this Thanksgiving weekend that every day is a gift.  God bless Doyle Bramhall and God bless his family and friends.  And by the way, God bless all of you too.  Happy Thanksgiving.


I’d Rather Be Blind (Crippled and Crazy)

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This song is written and performed by Doyle Bramhall, Sr.

Changes

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This song was written by another famous drummer who also sings: Buddy Miles. For the Jimi Hendrix fans out there this song may sound familar. It appeared on Jimi Hendrix’s live album “Band of Gypsys”.

It Ain’t No Use

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There’s not a blues man alive that wouldn’t have wanted to have written this song!

Dirty Pool

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This is pure Texas blues. This song appeared on Stevie Ray Vaughn’s first album “Texas Flood”. A song like this could only be written by someone who had hung out in every “Kinfe and Gun club” in Texas.

Scratch and Sniff

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An instant Rockabilly Classic. I dare you to sit still while you listen to this… See? I told you so…

The House is Rockin”

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This has always been one of my favorite SRV songs. Once again, any song writter would be proud to have written this little ditty. Am I right? This is one of Doyle’s best known songs. The problem is no one knows he wrote it!
Life by the Drop

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Last but not least the powerful song, “Life by the Drop”. This song is written by Doyle and performed by Stevie. They are both gone now and it makes the lyrics even more poignant. Here are the lyrics in their entirety as Doyle pens a song that seems to be about the two of them and their lives:

“Hello there, my old friend

Not so long ago, It was ’til the end.

We played outside in the pouring rain.

On our way up the road we stated over again.

You’re livin’ a dream as thought you’re on top.

My mind is achin’ and Lord it won’t stop.

That’s how it’s happened livin’ life by the drop.

Up and down that road in our worn out shoes,

Talikin’ bout good thangs and singin’ the blues.

You went your way and I stayed behind.

We both knew it was just a matter of time.

Livin’ a dream as though you’re on top.

My mind is achin’ and Lord it won’t stop.

That’s how it happens livin’ life by the drop.

No waste of time.  We’re alive today.

Turnin’ up the past, there’s no easier way.

Time’s been between us, a means to an end.

God it’s good to be here, Walkin’ together my Friend.

Livin’ our dream, my mind stopped achin’…

That’s how it happened, livin’ life by the drop.

Well, the two old friends are together again.  The music world here on earth just got a little poorer and the band in heaven just picked up a hell of a drummer and song writer…

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George Harrison Documentary is must see Television…

George Harrison

Martin Scorsese has struck again.  First he made the documentary “The Last Waltz”:  a film about the final concert of The Band.  Then he makes a documentary about the early career of Bob Dylan called “No Direction Home”.  Now he gives us this amazing documentary called:  “George Harrison – Living in the Material World”.

The documentary aired last week on HBO.   The documentary is in two parts and is a total of about 4 hours long.  Scorsese was given exclusive access to George Harrison’s private archives by his widow Olivia Harrison.  Much of the material has never been seen before.  

Part one starts with his childhood and ends with the making of “The White Album”.  Some of the highlights of part one were the discussion with Paul McCartney about how George auditioned for John Lennon in the dead of night on the top deck of a Liverpool double-decker bus.  There are a lot of very interesting storys, pictures, and video about their early years in Germany provided by their long time friend Klaus Voorman.  The best moment of part 1 is right at the end when they interview Eric Clapton about playing on the song “While My Guitar Gently Weeps”.  Eric tells how George insisted that he play on the cut.  Eric says that the song is about the slow disintegration of the Beatles from George’s perspective: “I look at you all, see the love there that’s sleeping; while my guitar gently weeps.”  That was a wow moment for me.  I  had never heard that before.  Now it seems so obvious.

Part 2 covers the break up of the Beatles and continues the story of George’s exploration of eastern religious thought.  Highlights include interviews with Phil Spector, Ringo Starr and his last wife Olivia Harrison, as well as his son Dhani.  There is a riveting conversation with Olivia about the night a nut broke into the Harrison home and attacked and stabbed George.  Also, her description of  the moment of his death.

This documentary is well worth the time invested to watch it.  You can catch the reruns on HBO or it is available on demand at HBO GO.com.

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Sometimes I feel like a Motherless child…

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Richie Havens at Woodstock 1969

I am now a Motherless child. My Mother died December 22, 2010 in Lubbock Texas. She was sick with cancer for a long time but it doesn’t make it any easier to have lost her. She was as good a Mother as a child could ever have. She helped make me who I am today. She could do anything she had to. She never saw roadblocks. She was talented and creative. She loved music and art and crafts.

Her memorial service was held in Lubbock on January 15th, 2011. For most of her life she was a Ministers Wife. So she spent her life in service to others. Because my Mom and Dad were in a religion called “The Church of Christ”, there was only “Acapella” singing at the service. This is a core belief of ‘The Church of Christ”: No musical instruments in the church building. Acapella is Italian for “in the manner of the Chapel”. In the earliest known history of organized religion all singing was vocal only. They sang without instruments. It really can be quite beautiful. The vocal singing at my Mother’s service was not the best I’ve ever heard, but the feelings were very strong and very real. Here’s a list of the gospel songs that were sung at my Mom’s memorial service:

“How Beautiful Heaven must Be”

“Earth Holds No Treasure”

“The Lord’s Prayer”

“In the Sweet By and By”

The service was a great tribute to an amazing person. My Mother had a difficult life and had to overcome a lot of adversity. Some of the things she had to overcome would have easily defeated the average person. Even though her life was hard, she always remained positive and always figured out how to move forward. She is an inspiration to me. I think it’s odd that she died on 12-22-10. It’s almost like a binary code. I’ve thought about translating the numbers into notes and building a musical composition from it. It makes for an interesting motif.

I spent the afternoon after the service with my family and my relatives. Later that night some of us went out to eat. It was a Saturday night and the restaurant was busy. We had to wait a long time for a table. By the time Pam and I got back to the hotel it was very late. I really needed to unwind so I made myself a Vodka Soda and turned on my i Pod. I have a running joke with my wife that the i Pod has mental telepathy and can read our thoughts and pick music that fits the moment. The very first song that played was “Hard Times (Who Knows Better Than I).” The performance was by Eric Clapton from the album “Journeyman.” The song was actually written and recorded by Ray Charles and Mitch Mitchell in 1961. (I’m not sure this is the same Mitch Mitchell that played drums in the Jimi Hendrix Experience. Does anybody out there know? Ray Charles got his musical start in Seattle Washington where Hendrix was born. Hmmm….) It sounds like it could be much, much older. Who knows? Here’s the lyrics and here’s the song covered by Eric Clapton:

Hard Times (Who Knows Better Than I?)

My mother told me
‘Fore she passed away
Said son when I’m gone
Don’t forget to pray

‘Cause there’ll be hard times
Lord those hard times
Who knows better than I?

Well I soon found out
Just what she meant
When I had to pawn my clothes
Just to pay the rent

Talkin’ ’bout hard times
Lord those hard times
Who knows better than I?

I had a woman
Who was always around
But when I lost my money
She put me down

Talkin’ ’bout hard times
Hard times
Yeah, yeah, who knows better than I?

Lord, one of these days
There’ll be no more sorrow
When I pass away

And no more hard times
No more hard times
Yeah, yeah, who knows better than I?

05 Hard Times

I talk to my friend Jim last night. He asked about my mom’s service. I told him all about it. I told the i Pod story. He had a much better explanation for the irony of the song choice the i Pod made. Jim said ‘It was just your Mother talking to you.” Thank you Jim.

Thank you Mom. I will always love you.

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