Monday, March 29, 2010

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Tab Benoit

Tab Benoit
Originally uploaded by butch leitz
Tab Benoit, Stargazers Theatre, 3/26/2010, Colorado Springs

Closing my eyes I could almost smell the delta: scarfing down a pulled-pork BBQ slider & that great 'slaw Stargazers Theatre has while enjoying libations, jokes and music with Monsieur Tab Benoit and about 500 of my closest friends last night was the most fun thing I did all week.

Tab Benoit is one of those guys that you just want to hang out with: funny, socially conscious about his home state of Louisiana and the devastation from Katrina, and a helluva good blues guitarist. Playing an old beat-up looking Fender Telecaster aged with sweat and Courvoisier - the best paint stripper known to man according to Benoit - the trio of Benoit with bassist Corey Duplechin and drummer Doug Gay ripped it up with their own fais do-do on stage. People were dancing and jumping everywhere else in the house and during the slow bluesy numbers I saw more than one couple making out, so you know the emotion in the Benoit's playing was moving people!

Also one interesting side-bar, George Whitesell - who along with wife Amy run A Music Company Inc who produced the show - sidled up to me and told me to check out the pedals Benoit was using: there weren't any! While almost all guitarists from any music genre use effects pedals to change the tone and sounds of their guitar, Benoit relied on his amp, fat strings, and on-board pickups to express his tonal range which went from fat and bluesy to twangy through roaring progressions and sweet laid back riffs.

Playing songs from several of his albums and requests called out from fans, styles ranged from slow to up-tempo boogie and shuffle numbers and like "Too Many Dirty Dishes", "Power of the Pontchartrain", a zydeco feeling "Stagolee", "Hot Tamale Baby", a soulful version of the bluesy "Nice and Warm", and ending with a totally jamming rendition of "Bayou Boogie".

A couple surprises: Benoit performed a couple solo guitar numbers after intermission before moving to the drums. After playing an excellent drum solo for several minutes that would have been appreciated by any drummer and had the whole audience riveted, Benoit was joined on stage by bassist Corey Duplechin. Together they drove though an amazing syncopated jam between drums and bass that had everybody stopped dead in their tracks. Drummer Doug Gay came out and squeezed around Benoit and took over mid jam while Benoit strolled back to his guitar & strapped it on and led the band into a great version of "Night Train".

Lastly, Benoit is a seriously funny guy: he riffed with the audience on topics from Dan Rather to Autoharps to Alligators throughout the evening with his wry bayou accented deadpan drawl. He could easily have a decent stand-up career if the whole "music thing" doesn't pan out. But I don't think he needs to worry about that happening!

Friday, March 26, 2010

Distracted Much?

Just realized I never posted photos or the review I did of Loggins and Messina a couple months ago here. The funny thing is, Jim Messina posted my review at his web site (well, maybe I saw it at his Facebook page, I know I saw it somewhere of his).

But I just looked (down) here in the blog and... I don't see it. Archived off? I dunno. I looked in my Flickr site & didn't post any photos there, either. Sheesh. Must be distracted.

Ok, so at the risk of being redundant being (joke), I'll go find that L & M review & post it.

Right after I complete a couple Senior orders I have in. And after the editing the shots of my daughters in a fashion show last night. And after completing a sports order I got in. And after the Tommy Castro collage I was asked to do. And after...

Oh crud. I just looked at a quick and dirty search engine "buoy" page I have to help crawlers find my reviews and photos - the one hiding here and see that there are several reviews and photos I never posted here.

I gotta get better at this whole blog thing.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

John Mayer, Pepsi Center, 3/23/2010

John Mayer, 3/23/2010, Denver Pepsi Center

Snow played a big factor in getting to see John Mayer last night in Denver's Pepsi Center, but 15,000+ people managed to attend despite highway closings and power outages on the streets of Denver. John Mayer is touring with a large arena style production including alot of lights and a huge screen dominating the stage behind the band. This allowed for video generated from the stage as well as graphics, video, and other animations to resemble a tricked-out light show from the 70's updated with just the right elements of grunge and scratchy vintage super-8 to be "hip" for today's market. One of the top touring pop performers, John Mayer was totally in control of the night after Pop/Reggae/Rapper/Rocker Michael Franti and Spearhead opened the show and warmed up the crowd.

When you look at a performer like John Mayer, you have to wonder where the tipping point is that transforms a musician from a large regional act or smaller national act to the world-wide near super-stardom he's experiencing now. The song-writing, the voice, the delivery, the packaging, and the confidence of John Mayer... and maybe the marketing, the tabloids, and his personal life all join in the mix.

The overall production looked at times more like a polished music-video and it was easy to forget that, hey, this is "real"... these guys are professionally blended musicians making delicious fresh-fruit music smoothies right here and now. And maybe the enjoyment lasts about as long. Nice melodies in older songs while working in newer material coupled with Mayer's casual banter to the audience made for a nice satisfying evening, but does he have the staying power of a full steak dinner?!? Time will tell: where Mayer goes professionally in the future may be a war between his apparent desires to be the anti-pop commercial star he's become and his musical heritage. I'll say this though: despite the at-time superficial stylings and over-the-top stage production, he can *really* play the guitar. He has a great sense of timing, nuance, dynamics and style when he plays... and showmanship. At times tapping out riffs with both hands (as opposed to strumming with his right hand), or once using a drumstick to beat out a lead, or then later laying a guitar down on the floor and both hitting it and sliding fingers on it like it was a steel guitar on blues-rock steroids, he can *play*.

Opening with "Heartbreak Warfare," "Crossroads," and Vultures", he moved through various styles of songs from his repertoire also including "Slow Dancing in a Burning Room," "Perfectly Lonely," "Assassin" and others. A few chestnuts like "Freefalling" and "Waiting on the World to Change" continued to show off his songwriting and his hey-I'm-just-part-of-the-human-family-too-but-with-a-guitar outreach that he appeals to. "Half of My Heart" led into "Dreams" before closing the night with "Why Georgia". An encore brought him back out for "Who Says" - played behind the closed transparent white stage screen with him backlit while video was project over top of it all on the enclosure giving an ethereal surreal feel to the number. His hit "Gravity" provided the big finish of the night.

Guitarist Robbie McIntosh was extraordinarily professional in his sweet and subtle lead and fill guitar work intertwined in Mayer’s songs when Mayer wasn't laying down rock or blues laden lines himself. David Ryan Harris provided other backing guitar work while Sean Hurley on bass, Steve Jordan on drums, and Charlie Wilson on keyboards rounded out the instrument components. Kenna Ramsey and Melanie Taylor provided backup and accent harmonies.

At times dancing in the aisles, hands swaying over heads, the audience participation provided a sense of shared community that was palpable and enjoyable. All in all the show was a satisfying guilty pleasure shared between Mayer and thousands of adoring fans.

More photos from the concert can be seen at my flickr site, here.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

amy sue hardy

amy sue hardy
Originally uploaded by butch leitz
Just a little thing from the Head Full Of Zombies shoot of Amy Sue Hardy. You gotta love that hair. Wow.