Written by Dave Clements
Nov 27, 2013 at 08:00 PM
ImageIt was the night before Thanksgiving and all through the house everyone was stirring  including the darned ole mouse…at least that was the case in Houston’s Bayou Music Center this Thanksgiving Eve. The occasion was The Guitar Slinging Joe Bonamassa coming to town to show Texas, once again, how well he can play both the acoustic and electric guitars.

This writer is here to report that Big Joe did all that plus much more. The very large crowd that had assembled didn’t seem to be worried about getting their Turkey in the oven early this night. It was all about guitar licks and there were plenty to be heard over the course of the show.

Joe is undoubtedly one of the best guitar players of his generation in the world and he came to remove any doubt any in attendance may have had!

The 36-year-old fourth generation musician from New York who is labeled a blues-rock guitarist is all of that … plus! He started first with a set on his acoustic guitar/s that had nine tunes including Seagull, a Bad Company cover, that I really loved plus eight others. He was seated when the lights came up and he kicked right into Woke Up Dreaming without a lot of fanfare, then Seagull, Jelly Roll, Black Lung Heartache, Around The Bend, another one of my favorites, Jockey Full of Bourbon, Stones In My Passway, Ball Peen Hammer and Athens to Athens.

He was so tight, and every note was strong and clear. And as good as it was it just didn’t compare with what was about to happen after a break, when the acoustic guitars got put back into their carrying cases and loaded back on the bus.

ImageJoe wasn’t real chatty during the show,either in the first half or the second, as he seemed totally focused on making his guitar/s sing…beautifully! He did introduce his band, some of the industry’s best musicians. Then he closed the introductions by saying how excited he was to be opening for Joe Bonamassa. This may fall flat for some of you readers but it was funny as hell. Maybe one of those ‘you had to be there’ things but pretty representative of his laid back personality.

I strongly suggest next time he is in these parts you catch his show.  He plays a mean guitar, and although his guitar work does outshine his vocals, he is an excellent singer. Now on to ELECTRIC TIME…

After Bonamassa took a 15 minute break to change the stage configuration he then strapped on his electric guitar. He then proceeded to show us just how adept he was at making that instrument scream! Upon reflecting on the evening Bonamassa was just teasing us while playing acoustically. It was an entirely different story in the second half.

This guy is incredible and he can just go on and on with one guitar riff after another. I actually don’t think I own the words that properly describe how good he is on an electric guitar. My best effort to describe him would go like this:

He would hold five spots in my top ten of great guitar players of all time. Ok maybe only four but what the hell!

ImageDust Bowl was the first of eleven songs he did in the electric set. His second tune was Who’s Been Talking, then Midnight Blues, Dislocated Boy, Driving Towards the Daylight (that was also a highlight for me), Slow Train, Look Over Yonders Wall, Sloe Gin, and Ballad of John Henry. His encores were Django and Mountain Time. It was all gooder than good mainly!

Before wrapping up this little recap there is one somewhat negative observation I would make about the evening. I think Joe deserved a more energetic audience! From this writer’s perspective it appeared to me that the crowd had already had their Thanksgiving meal before showing up for the show. They seemed subdued for the most part and just didn’t get into the experience the way I thought they would or should. There was hardly a person standing, screaming and certainly not dancing like no one was watching.

At best there were a lot of bobbing heads in their seats; like ho-hum they’ve seen this kind of guitar playing many times before. And I know that’s not right! This was not the audience reaction that soon to be legendary, playing his heart out, bearing his soul Mr. Joe Bonamassa deserved.

Hope you had a nice Thanksgiving and remember there is no time to kill.