Saturday, April 30, 2011

John Spencer Blues Explosion

From one legend to another...

There are nights when I go to a show without a ticket and somehow luck my way in with the attitude of "if I don't get in, I'll just go home". Tonight was one of those shows where I went down, stood in line, and paid full price at the door to make sure that I got to see the show of the year, so far. Jon Spencer Blues Explosion was at Exit In and I have been holding back the excitement pee for over a couple of months to finally get to rock out with this band.

Another great thing about this night was getting to share it with my oldest sister Sally Kemp, and my dad Kenny Kemp. My sister and I went to see JSPX in the mid-to-late nineties at 328 so it was fun to get to see them again all these years later, along with my dad who everyone knows, is too cool. Anyway, we sat at the Gold Rush a little too long and miss the headliner's first song.

Upon arriving amidst the second song from JSBX, we were instantly pumped and sonically pleased. Jon was in pure form, growling and screeching into the distorted mic and incorporating his name into almost every song. I have been listening to these guys on my ipod all week and I still only recognized a couple of songs. "Attack" was fun to sing (scream) along with and "Bell Bottoms" was raucous as pancakes on a school day. Think about that.

All I can say is that Jon Spencer is a superhero of mine and it was great to see/meet him tonight at my favorite club. The Explosion has been around for close to 20 years now and their horseplay intimacy is unmatched. They take turns making up for the lack of bass and the drummer makes tons of noise on his minimalistic set. This was really one of the best shows of the year so far, it's gonna tough to beat.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Jeff Beck

Going into tonight's show, I knew about this much about Jeff Beck: He was in the Yardbirds, he's in the Hall of Fame twice, Pink Floyd was too intimidated to ask him to replace Syd Barrett, and every guitar player I respect has him in their top 3. It was cool to be at the Ryman and watch that many guitar heros watch their hero. Luckily, I had procured my ticket earlier in the week, not wanting to go through this again. There was no way I was going to miss this one.

I got in early enough to catch most of the opener, Tyler Bryan, who I'm pretty sure also opened for Heart. This time he was without his band, alone with just a guitar, and he did alright. He can really play guitar well, but his songwriting seems a little on the weak sauce side. He must have one helluva manager.

Jeff Beck came out and started the show much like a playoff hockey game, as soon as the puck dropped, it was on full force and wasn't letting up. I'm not familiar with his work enough to recognize any of his songs, but each one was unique and rocked with equal force. The band was super tight, featuring former Prince bassist Rhonda Smith, and Narada Michael Walden on drums. This rhythm section was both rowdy and funky, adding great dynamics to the songs, as well as providing the show's only lead vocals on covers "Rollin' and Tumblin'", "Little Wing", and Sly's "Higher". Jason Rebello added another dimension on the keys, providing something for Beck to bounce licks off of. Other moments of note were his personal takes on classic songs like "Somewhere Over The Rainbow" and "A Day In The Life". Of course my favorite part came in the encore, when Beck paid tribute to his hero, Les Paul, with the only Strat-free number of the night.

Jeff Beck didn't say much during the show, but he didn't need to. He held a Nashville Ryman crowd, probably full of the harshest, holier than thou guitar players, in the palm of his hand and showed us all how it's done. I knew tonight that I was in the presence of a legend, one of the best guitar players ever. Clapton should be on the side of the stage changing this guys strings and swapping out guitars for him. Anyway, I'm really glad I got to see this show, and I can't wait to dive into the world of Jeff Beck.