Rick Galusha's Pacific St. Blues and Americana

Since inception (1989), Pacific St. Blues & Americana strives to be a discerning voice helping roots fans sift through the mountains of music released every year. We are not for everyone; we want to engage active, critical listeners that hear beyond d'jour. Interviews include: Johnny Winter, Bill Wyman (Rolling Stones), Jerry Wexler, Tommy Shannon & Chris Layton, B.B. King, Dr. John, Robin Trower, Robben Ford, Mato Nanji, Joe Bonamassa, Harry Manx, Sue Foley, Marshall Chess, Billy Lee Riley, Charlie Louvin, Kim Richey, Radney Foster, Eric Johnson, David Clayton Thomas, Al Kooper, Phil Chen (Wired, Blow By Blow), Ian McLagan, Art Neville, Southside Johnny, Miami Steve Van Zant, Nils Lofgren, Bruce Iglauer, Charlie Musselwhite, Studebaker John, Chris Duarte, Smokin' Joe Kubeck, Hamilton Loomis, Peter Karp, Roomful of Blues, James Harman, Hadden Sayers, Malford Milligan, Melvin Taylor, Otis Taylor, Dave Alvin, Coco Montoya, Jimmy Thackery, Marsha Ball, Maria Muldaur, Shelby Lynne, Magic Dick & J. Geils, Lil' Milton, BuddyGuy, Aynsley Lister, Matt Schofield, Susan Tedeschi, Derek Trucks, Guy Clark, Joe Ely, James Cotton, Robin & Jesse Davey, Hugh Coltman (Hoax), Sean Kelly (Samples), John Entwistle (The Who), Mark Olson (Jayhawks), Walter Wolfman Washington, Anthony Gomes, Bob Malone, Chubby Carrier, Buckwheat Zydeco, Murali Coryell, David Jacob Strain, DeAnna Bogart, Michael Lee Firkins, Guy Davis, Jason Ricci, John Doe, Little Feat, Matt Woods, MikeZito, Peter Buffett, Ronnie Baker Brooks, Corky Siegel, Todd Park Mohr, Watermelon Slim, Magic Slim, Corey Harris,- - - - - - ------------------------Radio archives: http://www.kiwrblues.podomatic.com/. Playlists: http://www.omahablues.com/ Reviews featured in http://www.blueswax.com/. Email: KIWRblues@gmail.com Live online; Sundays 9 a.m. (-6 GMT) http://www.897theriver.com/

Friday, January 18, 2008

Album Review: Joe Bonamassa, Had to Cry Today

Thursday, August 26, 2004

Artist: Joe Bonamassa
Title: Had to Cry Today

The national success of Joe Bonamassa can, to some extent, be credited Eastern Nebraska’s growing presence on the national music scene. While much of our area’s acclaim can be attributed to Robb Nansel and the bands on the Saddle Creek Record label, the area’s commitment to live music, and specifically blues based music, is now beginning to bear fruit. True fans know this seed was planted in Lincoln’s Zoo Bar and has since flourished in Omaha.
The integral relationships of radio, print & retail intertwining with the avid fans in the Omaha Blues Society has created a scene that has a proven ability to catapult an artist onto the national stage. Certainly Omaha’s thrust is not self-sustaining but it sure can get some folks to pay attention.

Like Indigenous before him, Joe Bonamassa is the beneficiary of Omaha’s love affair with his Brit-based blistering electric blues. Regular readers of this column will note the Joe’s previous album was my ‘Blues Album of the Year’ in ’03. So it was with eager anticipation that I threw on his latest effort.

He’s clearly changed direction a bit; more rock and less blues. Within this genre I hear no player that supercedes Bonamassa’s ability to drive home a great electric riff striking to the heart of the sound without over-playing or being cliche. ‘Joemaha’ left the ego at the door to write a smattering of the songs that blend with songs written by others. To put a sharper point on it, this album is not a collection of songs strung together: instead it a one piece of art that is composed of eleven tracks, much the way I remember my favorite albums being done.

While "great" is few and far between, there are three, and you can quote me on this, GREAT songs on this incredibly strong album including the seventh track, When She Dances. A slow ballad that is virtually guitar free, Bonamassa’s ability to vocally emote an emotion in song is locked in here. Gregg Allman like in his delivery Joe should have a commercial hit here. (Will radio “get” it? Not unless they pay someone too much money to tell them it’s good.)

To my blues ear, the fourth track, Reconsider Baby, a cover of Lowell Fulsom, is the near perfect ‘sound’ that most modern electric blues fans crave; soaring solos in a minor key with extended vocal notes and very B. B. King like. ANY fan of the late Stevie Ray Vaughan will immediately get this song.

The third GREAT song on this album, The River, is not a Springsteen cover. Opening with National Steel guitar plucking, Bonamassa quickly winds this song into a fresh blast that harkens to the sound that made Brit-Rock in the late ‘60’s so cool.

What Bonamassa understands, and what separates him from other blues players, is pacing. His albums are jam packed with sonic texture and the listener is not subjected to the “same song” for thirty minutes. While Joe’s guitar playing is quite capable of ‘blowing the doors off any old jalopy’ instead he chooses to employ clever licks, breathing space, and good taste.

This is an excellent record that could very well break this artist onto the next stage that his career so richly deserves. WEAR YOUR LOCAL COLORS AND BUY IT TODAY!

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