Category Archives: Music

Epitome of the Style

Yes, they are both about 60 years old, and many in the audience were, like me and my brother Tor and our friends Merrill and Brett, no longer the young rock ‘n’ roll fans we once were.

But this nonetheless had to be the epitome of classic rock, Steve Winwood and Eric Clapton together, playing everything from the blues, to soul music, Traffic, Hendrix, Blind Faith, Derek & the Dominoes, and various solo numbers from each other’s back catalogues. I have heard and seen many comments to the effect of this being the best concert ever… Certainly one of the best concerts I’ve ever been to. The two masters are each great in their own right but clearly enjoyed playing together and just nailed tune after tune after tune…with a great rhythm section, no big band or backup singers this time. Like one of the reviewers said, this was a different Eric Clapton than with Cream in 2005. Much better – and it has to be Winwood, and the result of a collaboration rather than competition.

I know I am late, at least in blogosphere time, in posting this but better late than never. Same with putting the videos up on You Tube.

Actually quite a lot has been posted on You Tube from the three nights, and many comments as well. Here’s the most popular one that I posted:

Excerpt of Winwood & Clapton playing Hendrix tune “Little Wing” at MSG 2/28

This was definitely one of the highlights. “Voodoo Chile” and “Double Trouble” were two others – with Clapton absolutely nailing two of the best guitar solos of all time during the latter. The organ/guitar jam on the former was incredible, and made me wish there had been more organ solos. Winwood is so versatile though – such a great singer, piano player, and such a great guitar player, trading solos with Clapton on several songs, including “Cocaine” and “Dear Mr. Fantasy” (the encore last Thursday) and certainly holding his own. In fact not many guitar players are better than Winwood, Clapton being among a relatively small handful.

Our seats were great, about halfway up the risers toward the back of the MSG floor, on the right, with a clear view of the stage. One piece of bad luck – a very loud mouthed New Yorker and his friends sat directly in back of us. “OH MY GAWD!” “HE STILL HAS HIS SEVENTIES VOICE!” “HE IS JUST AS GOOD AS WHEN WE SAW HIM IN THE 70s MAYBE BETTER” “WOW IT’S ‘LITTLE WING’ ” etc. and on and on at the top of his lungs, as if he could onl enjoy the show by constantly talking over it. No doubt he will be bragging to all of his friends what a great show it was, despite the fact he didn’t really listen to it.

I can’t wait for the DVD. I hope they get all the songs on it, not like Crossroads where they cut out a bunch of stuff, and changed the order on some others (not that anyone who wasn’t there would notice, but still).

Afterwards we walked up to Times Square to an excellent Belgian beer bar to rehash the evening.

The weather was a bit cold and windy outside, but the memories are still warm.

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Crossroads Guitar Festival 2007: Pretty Good Concert ;-)

It was long, and sometimes hot, and the ground was covered with some hard plastic tiles, but it was about as good a day of guitar music as anyone could hope for.

MSN has some clips available (although strangely not of Steve Winwood’s “Dear Mr. Fantasy”).

Official summary was very positive, of course…but there was really not much to complain about other than a few sound system glitches.

The Tribune blog reprinted the reviewer’s final with a bit more balanced view, although still full of deserved superlatives, and including something that John, Brett, and I picked up on – who was that unbelievable young bass player with Jeff Beck?

The details from the Tribune blog on the other hand highlighted B.B. King passing the torch. I would have said it was more like Eric Clapton passing the torch… to Derek Trucks. I would also quibble with his opinion that Susan Tedeshi “nearly stole the show” from Derek Trucks. (Sorry but Susan is not Derek, no matter how well she sings!)

Some good photos on the Rolling Stone site.

Additional info here, along with a couple of video clips.

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The photo John took of me and Brett.

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The photo I took of John.

More photos and notes on Flickr.

(If I get my video clips uploaded I’ll update the blog.)

Update, first video uploaded:

update 2: someone posted a Clapton/Derek Trucks duet.

Update 3, Aug 3

Rest of the videos finally uploaded:

John McLaughlin

Derek Trucks Band

Susan Tedeschi

Derek Trucks & Susan Tedeschi

B.B. King

Eric Clapton

Robbie Robertson

Steve Winwood

Eric Clapton & Steve Winwood

Steve Winwood & Eric Clapton

Steve Winwood – guitar solo

Buddy Guy et al

Off to Chicago

This afternoon I’m heading to Chicago for tomorrow’s Eric Clapton’s Crossroads Guitar Festival. I’m going to meet my friend Brett from New Zealand there, and we’ll be going down to Toyota Park with my friend John from Chicago.

I’m really looking forward to this – the festival has probably the best lineup of guitar players on one stage anywhere. Looks like they will be broadcasting on MSN

By sheer conicidence, my son Alex is heading out tomorrow for the Rock the Bells festival in New York, where he’ll finally have a chance to see one of his favorite bands, Rage Against the Machine.

Last year when my brother and I were at the Cream reunion in New York, Alex was at the Audioslave concert in Virginia, near his college.

Brett and I are also going to see Walter Trout at the House of Blues tonight.

And of course I need to find time to go visit the Jazz Record Mart while I’m in town – always manage to spend too much there and somehow never seem to have enough blues CDs…

Should be a great weekend!

I’m a Believer

I used to be a bit sceptical about Wikipedia degenerating into a forum for endless discussion, but now I’m a Believer and I use it all the time.
Not to mention the great entry on Robert Wyatt, whose version I really like (readers of this blog will not be surprised at that 😉 and Wyatting, of course… (can you believe that?)
ps I vote for keeping Wyatting as a separate entry

12:01 Blues Band

Jane and I went to see the 12:01 Blues Band at the Acton Jazz Cafe last Saturday night.
It was a great night out. Both cafe and band were very enjoyable.
As I mentioned before, Jane and I lived in Chicago just after college (1978-1982, can it really be that long ago?!?) One of the great things about living there then, and living where we did (in the DePaul neighborhood on the near North side), was that we could go see world class blues musicians pretty much any night of the week.
So it was great to see our neighbors from Swampscott, Mass. singing and playing the blues the other night in a nearby venue. If you get a chance, I would definitely check them out. They can all play and sing too, and they offer a great mix of traditional blues and original tunes.

Chicago Piano

A couple of weeks ago I was in Chicago for the Eclipse Board meeting. Afterward i went with one of my friends to see Barrelhouse Chuck “and friends” at Rosa’s Lounge. It was great. Rosa herself was behind the bar, and Barrelhouse’s friends included Pete Crawford, Katherine Davis, and Eiko, who took over on piano while Chuck sang a couple of songs.
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Barrellhouse Chuck with Pete Crawford at Rosa’s Lounge June 28
Barrellhouse is a student of Chicago piano. He spent 9 years studying with Sunnyland Slim before he passed away, and he can play just like him. He can actually sing a little better than Sunnyland, although maybe that’s not saying much. Chuck is playing Wednesday’s through July at Rosa’s. If you’re out that way you should definitely check it out.
Here’s a picture of Chuck with my friend Tom. Tom says that the caption is wrong, though, and it was actually Christmas 1991 at Chuck’s place. Tom studied with Chuck a while back and used to fill in for Chuck sometimes when Chuck’s band took breaks. Today Tom spends more time playing the ukelele, but his real job (when he decides he wants one) is as a graphic artist. He used to paint pinball machine and other arcade game panels. Tom designed the logo for Barrelhouse, which appears on his website and lapel button.
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Barrelhouse Chuck’s Logo
Rosa’s has a great atmosphere. My wife and I moved to Chicago right out of college and our first apartment was over the North Branch Saloon, which turned out to be one of about 6 blues bars within walking distance where you could see world-class blues artists almost any night of the week for cheap.
Single File, which was about four blocks away, was where we saw Sunnyland for the first time. Big Time Sarah was with him and I bought an LP from her on Sunnyland’s Airways label (since reissued) that the two of them were on. That started me on buying the music of the musicians I went to see, and keeping up the tradition I bought two CDs from Barrelhouse that night.
Chuck came over and talked with us during the break between sets. He knew Tom, of course, but he also went around and talked with everyone else.
One thing that was different though was the appearance of a tourist with a camera. You would never have seen that 25 years ago. I had decided not to get my camera out because I didn’t want to break the mood, but after the Dutch guy went right up to the stage with his Nikon with the big flash, I figured what the heck and took a few shots from my seat at the bar.
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Eiko Gallwas and Katherine Davis
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The Dutch Tourist with the Camera
The day before I’d gone over to the Jazz Record Mart and bought a bunch of CDs, including, by sheer coincidence, Sunnyland’s “Patriarch of the Blues” that I found in the used bin. The guy at the counter told me all the old North Side clubs had either closed down or become tourist joints where they “played the same 12 songs over and over…”
At the end of the last set Chuck asked if anyone had any requests. I mentioned “Johnson Machine Gun,” one of Sunnyland’s better known tunes, and before I could even say “if you know it” Chuck had launched into a thunderous version. The Blues is alive and well in Chicago, you just have to go a little farther West than you used to.

Music Notes

This is one I’m really looking forward to – a collaboration between Paul Simon and Brian Eno!
Here’s another one high on the anticipation list, the Blind Faith DVD coming out ( was supposed to be April 10 but now there’s no date on Amazon, although you can preorder it). In the brief interview with Ginger Baker about it that was posted a while ago (and since taken down, I’m afraid), he acknowledges how painful it is for him to play because of his arthritis, putting something of a damper on hopes for more Cream reunion shows. The interview with him on the DVD site is well worth a read too, and the “Sea of Joy” clip well worth watching…should be a great DVD.
Recently I also bought the new album by Delbert McClinton, Cost of Living. I really liked the one I bought a few years ago, Nothing Personal so I bought the new one. I’d say it’s not quite as good as Nothing Personal but definitely has some great songs. I am a bit disappointed that he chose to record a song called “Right to Be Wrong” which he must have known was already done by Joss Stone.
I also got the new John Mayer Trio CD, which is a set of live recordings from the tour. Most of the tunes are really great, including a credible cover of Hendrix’ Wait for Tomorrow.
I don’t care, I also really like Heavier Things – this was something that I played over and over on my recent West Coast trip. I had it on my iPod and some songs from it kept coming up on shuffle mode and surprising me. Really holds up well.
A couple of months ago a got the new Beatles’ biography. The first part of it is great, where it goes into a lot of detail about their youth, what it was like to play in Hamburg, and how they made it to the top. The rest of it lacks something, perhaps because I have my own memories of them once they got famous.
While in Dublin a couple of weeks ago I picked up a Pogues anthology (Ultimate Collection) for about 10 Euros (which is apparently a good price), on the strength of the recent publicity about their reunion. It’s a two CD set, one studio and one live. You can really hear Shane McGowan slurring his words on the live side, but it still sounds pretty good.