Influences And Recollections of a Musical Mind

Written By Braddon S. Williams

Muddy Waters: Hard Again

Muddy Waters gets my personal vote for the best male vocals ever in blues music.

His “comeback” album Hard Again (1977) leads off with a version of Mannish Boy that sounds like it was recorded live in the studio, complete with producer Johnny Winter contributing guitar and his unmistakable roared “Yeah” as perfect punctuation for Muddy’s authoritative proclamations of his undisputed manliness.

Occasionally one will hear music that translates the joy and love that went into its creation directly to the listener’s soul.

Hard Again is such an album.

The pure enthusiasm that radiates from every syllable uttered by the blues legend is beyond dispute, and it is contagious to all the participating musicians.

Hard Again pops and sizzles in its fathomless and timeless grooves.

Indeed, as one perfectly named song states,

The Blues Had A Baby And They Named It Rock And Roll, Pt. 2…kind of says it all. Other classics include I Can’t Be Satisfied, Deep Down In Florida, Jealous Hearted Man, Cross Eyed Cat, and I Just Want To Be Loved, but it is the towering Mannish Boy that never fades in its glorious power, a testimony to the gigantic legacy of Muddy Waters.

Influences And Recollections of a Musical Mind

What can I say about Janis Joplin that hasn’t already been said? I love a lot of female vocalists across many diverse musical genres, but Janis is at the top of the mountain for me. Pinpointing why is kind of tricky, because it was a special combination of attributes. She had a voice that she was still learning to harness the full power of while recording Pearl, which was released after her death. There was certainly technique in her singing, but there was also character, fearlessness, vulnerability, reckless abandon, and a fragility that was tragic. You wanted to see her succeed, because she wasn’t supposed to. The odds were against her from the beginning, but she was special, and she found her voice and her people (even though it wasn’t enough to ultimately save her). I know I’m not alone in wondering what else she would have achieved, but I’m also so very thankful for what she left us. Pearl is a beauty of an album, filled with a woman who had triumphed on her own terms. Janis never got to fully realize all the love that people had for her. I wonder if it would have saved her if she had…

Written By Braddon S. Williams

Influences And Recollections of a Musical Mind

One day in 1983 I was driving along and listening to the radio when suddenly this absolutely incredible guitar playing demanded my undivided attention, so I wisely pulled over to the side of the road and experienced the majesty of Stevie Ray Vaughan for the first time. The song was Pride And Joy, and I was hooked…and literally blown away by the passion and command the man obviously had on that Stratocaster. Texas Flood was recorded in basically 2 days with no overdubs, just a 3 piece band playing blues with heart and soul and nearly telepathic communication. Stevie pretty much ushered in a new golden age of the blues in a revival of the purely American art form throughout the rest of the decade. In addition to Pride And Joy and the scorching title track, there were several incendiary instrumentals (including the sublimely beautiful Lenny). I knew upon first hearing Stevie Ray that he was something special. Like so many legends before him, he didn’t get a lot of time to make his mark, but he sure made it count every time he picked up a guitar. One of my big regrets is never getting the chance to see him live. I always figured there would be a next time…until there wasn’t one.

Written By Braddon S. Williams

In Memoriam 2017: The Musicians We Lost

Bright voices from every corner of the music world left us this year — from virtuoso players to visionary composers, from charismatic bandleaders to golden-eared producers, from influential inventors to critics and commentators who interrogated and elevated the art they covered. Explore their legacies here.

Pat Greenhouse/The Boston Globe via Getty Images

Nat Hentoff

June 10, 1925 Jan. 7, 2017

Hentoff was a writer for The Village Voice for 50 years. … He also was a lover and frequent writer on jazz music. From age 11, he was hooked on the genre after hearing the song “Nightmare” by Artie Shaw coming through an open door at a record store. (Read the full obituary

William Onyeabor

March 26, 1946Jan. 16, 2017

Onyeabor was something like Nigeria’s answer to Parliament-Funkadelic, churning out space-age disco-funk in the 1970s and ’80s with synths and drum machines. (Read the full obituary)

Junie Morrison

Date UnknownJan. 21, 2017

When it comes to the funk gods who swung low and sprinkled pixie dust on hip-hop’s ’90s G-Funk redux, Junie Morrison is of the highest order. His musical contributions to early Ohio Players hits (“Funky Worm”) and co-writing and playing on P-Funk’s biggest hit (“One Nation Under A Groove”) became the sonic blueprint for hits by artists ranging from De La Soul to Dr. Dre.

Maggie Roche

Oct. 26, 1951Jan. 21, 2017

As Ann Powers noted earlier this year, Roche and her sisters wrote songs “about pregnancy, work, family tensions, complex love and the feminine mystique [that] gained clarity from the utterly clear, deliberately imperfect harmonies” Maggie delivered along with her sisters Terre and Suzzy.

David Axelrod

April 17, 1931Feb. 5, 2017

“He is one of the most intriguing arrangers and composers that I’ve ever heard doing psychedelic rock and funk music together. To me his music is singular,” foundational hip-hop producer Pete Rock says. “I’m a digger and there are records that are similar but something about his music stands out on his own. That music is really deadly, and only he could really touch it.” (Read the full remembrance)

Al Jarreau

March 12, 1940Feb. 12, 2017

Since he recorded his first album in the 1960s, Jarreau demonstrated a vocal dynamism and flexibility that outpaced many of his peers — as can be seen in his track record at the Grammys. Jarreau won seven of them over the course of his career, becoming the only vocalist to win plaudits in the jazz, pop and R&B categories. (Read the full obituary)

Clyde Stubblefield

April 18, 1943Feb. 18, 2017

For most of his career, Stubblefield was better known in sound than in name. He joined James Brown’s backing band in 1965. … Songs like “Cold Sweat,” “Say It Loud — I’m Black And I’m Proud” and “Mother Popcorn” are now revered as a gold standard for funk drumming. A generation later, he would have an even bigger impact on hip-hop, as the pattern he’d played on 1970’s “Funky Drummer” proved irresistible to producers. (Read the full obituary)

Larry Coryell

April 2, 1943Feb. 19, 2017

Coryell’s recordings in the late 1960s — first with his band the Free Spirits, then with the Gary Burton Quartet and finally as a bandleader — predicted the rise of jazz-rock fusion and contributed to the sonic evolution of the genre. It’s no wonder that snippets of his work were sampled by renowned producers, including J Dilla and DJ Shadow. (Read the full obituary)

Leon Ware

Feb. 16, 1940Feb. 23, 2017

Born in Detroit in 1940, Ware became a Motown songwriter in his 20s. Soon, he was writing for the who’s who of Motor City — including Marvin Gaye, whose funk-infused 1976 album I Want You was co-produced by Ware, who also co-wrote every tune on the release. (Read the full obituary)

Misha Mengelberg

June 5, 1935March 5, 2017

A conservatory-trained composer who played oddball jazz piano and a seemingly disorganized man who helped Dutch improvisers get government support partly by rebranding improvisation as instant composing, … he was a musical anarchist who taught classical counterpoint and wrote dozens of catchy melodies that rarely sounded like typical jazz tunes. (Read the full obituary)

Dave Valentin

April 29, 1952March 8, 2017

Dave Valentin became one of the pre-eminent flutists in Latin jazz. He was known for his creative combination of fusion, pop and R&B. He won a Grammy in 2003 for best Latin jazz album for The Gathering, by the Caribbean Jazz Project. (Read the full obituary)

Joni Sledge

Sept. 13, 1956March 10, 2017

[Sister Sledge’s] biggest hit, “We Are Family,” written by Bernard Edwards and Nile Rodgers of Chic, came eight years after they got together and during a difficult time for the group professionally. “We were saying: ‘Well, maybe we should go to college and just become lawyers or something other than music, because it really is tough,'” Sledge later told The Guardian. (Read the full obituary)

Chuck Berry

Oct. 18, 1926March 18, 2017

Through the late ’50s and ’60s Berry defined the contours of rock ‘n’ roll and, along with peers like Little Richard and James Brown, the full-throttle energy on stage that this still-developing high-tempo, electrified style of blues required. His work influenced nearly every popular musician that came after. (Read the full obituary)

Arthur Blythe

July 5, 1940March 27, 2017

Blythe was a commanding figure whose music connected jazz’s root system with its freer outgrowths, seemingly without a second thought. It was implicit in his broad-shouldered tone — “round as Benny Carter, ardent as John Coltrane,” in the words of Gary Giddins — and through the vibrato that often amplified the sensation of fervency. (Read the full obituary)

Ikutaro Kakehashi

Feb. 7, 1930 – April 1, 2017

The 808’s candy-colored keys, clunky preset sounds, and small size made it seem more like a Fisher-Price toy than a serious instrument. But that was part of its enduring genius. There was nothing intimidating about the little Roland machines — unlike most synthesizers and drum machines of the time, which tended to be large, expensive, and hard to program. … Under Kakehashi’s lead, Roland’s engineers developed synths, effects units, drum machines, and many other devices at a furious clip. (Read the full obituary)

J. Geils

Feb. 20, 1946April 11, 2017

Geils is best known for The J. Geils Band’s No. 1 hit, “Centerfold,” which spent six weeks atop the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart in 1982 and 25 weeks on the chart cumulatively. … Even before finding mainstream success in the 1980s, the band was one of the more popular rock acts of the 1970s: It released 10 albums during that decade, touching the Top 10 with 1973’s Bloodshot. (Read the full obituary)

Sylvia Moy

Sept. 15, 1938April 15, 2017

Sylvia Moy was one of the first female producers at Detroit’s legendary Motown Records. … As a songwriter, she wrote for artists like Marvin Gaye and the Isley Brothers. But her most notable creative partnership was with Stevie Wonder. She co-wrote a number of his hits, including “Uptight (Everything’s Alright)” and “My Cherie Amour.” (Read the full remembrance)

Chris Cornell

July 20, 1964May 18, 2017

Cornell played a seminal role in the origins of grunge music, founding Soundgarden in 1984 with Kim Thayil and Hiro Yamamoto. Together with other Seattle acts Nirvana, Pearl Jam and Alice in Chains, the band — and Cornell’s voice — would go on to define a sound that cherry-picked elements of punk and metal and distorted them into a distinctive brew all their own. (Read the full obituary)

Gregg Allman

Dec. 8, 1947May 27, 2017

The Allmans embarked on lengthy musical explorations that reflected the discipline and dynamics of classical music, the passion of soul and the improvisational spirit of jazz. Gregg Allman’s contributions were his singing, his chops on the Hammond organ and his songwriting. As a composer, he wrote songs that not only were FM radio hits back in the ’70s but eventually became popular with an entirely new generation of Allman Brothers fans. (Read the full remembrance)

David Lewiston

May 11, 1929May 29, 2017

The force behind more than two dozen recordings for the Nonesuch Explorer series, … Lewiston’s ear took him all over the globe, capturing a scope of music that may seem unimaginably broad today. (Read the full obituary)

Paul Zukofsky

Oct. 22, 1943June 6, 2017

A prize-winning youth violinist who survived the glare of life as a prodigy, Zukofsky grew up to become a supremely skilled, if not always approachable, adult musician, and a great supporter of contemporary classical music as a soloist and, later, conductor.

Rosalie Sorrels

June 24, 1933June 11, 2017

Rosalie always considered herself a singer more than a songwriter. Her heroes were people who had what she called “the heartfelt tone” – the Brazilian soprano Bidu Sayão, Billie Holiday, Edith Piaf, Patsy Cline, Sam Cooke, David Hidalgo of Los Lobos. It had nothing to do with genre and everything to do with feeling. (Read the full obituary)


Nov. 2, 1974June 20, 2017

Prodigy co-founded the Queens-based Mobb Deep in the early ’90s, alongside partner Havoc. The two became synonymous with a brand of East Coast gangsta rap that represented the ill street blues, grit and grime of pre-gentrified New York City. … The music was dark, with eerie undertones that reflected the environmental hazards and criminal exploits of day-to-day living in the hood. (Read the full obituary)

Geri Allen

June 12, 1957June 27, 2017

Allen proved more than a virtuoso able to marshal the greatest rhythm sections; she was a musical partner with prodigious ears, motivated by the percussive energy of the avant-garde, the elusive unified spark of straight-ahead swing and the expressive truth of piano balladry. (Read the full obituary)

Pierre Henry

Dec 9, 1927July 5, 2017

[Henry] helped usher in a musical revolution with a style called musique concrète — “concrete music” — collages of prerecorded and manipulated sounds from both electronic and acoustic sources. (Read the full obituary)

Christopher Wong Won

May 29, 1964July 13, 2017

Christopher Wong Won — you might know him as Fresh Kid Ice — was a pioneer rapper of Cantonese and Trinidadian descent [who] co-founded the seminal rap group 2 Live Crew. The group’s third album, As Nasty as They Wanna Be, was its most memorable: Authorities in Broward County, Fla., declared the album obscene and promised to arrest record store owners who sold it. (Read the remembrance)

Chester Bennington

March 20, 1976July 20, 2017

At the height of its popularity, Linkin Park toured relentlessly — the band reportedly tallied 342 live shows just in the year 2001. … Its debut album in 2000, Hybrid Theory, became the best-selling rock album of that decade, and the group went on to sell more than 50 million units. (Read the obituary)

Dr G Yunupingu

Jan. 22, 1971July 25, 2017

The best-selling Aboriginal musician in Australian history, … Yunupingu had a sweet tenor voice and a gentle guitar style that took him far beyond his homeland. (Read the full obituary)

Glen Campbell

April 22, 1936August 8, 2017

Campbell once said he didn’t consider himself a “country singer,” but rather a “country boy who sings.” And historian John Rumble from the Country Music Hall of Fame says Campbell had something few do: “When he was on stage and started to sing, you knew there was a star on stage,” Rumble says. “I don’t know how to explain it. It’s an aura. It’s a feeling. You knew this was somebody special.” (Read the full obituary)

Barbara Cook

Oct. 25, 1927August 8, 2017

The Atlanta-born soprano started her Broadway career in 1951, but it was her 1956 role in Leonard Bernstein’s short-lived Candide, with its popular cast recording, that ensured her immortality. … In 1975, she reinvented herself as a highly regarded concert and cabaret artist. (Read the full obituary)

John Abercrombie

Dec. 16, 1944August 22, 2017

Abercrombie was a confident but unassuming artist, whose abundant gifts did not include the knack for self-promotion. He emerged in the immediate wake of electric-guitar trailblazers like Sonny Sharrock and John McLaughlin but, at least temperamentally, he belonged more to the generation a decade or so his junior: cheerful omnivores like Pat Metheny, John Scofield and Bill Frisell. (Read the full obituary)

Walter Becker

Feb. 20, 1950Sept. 3, 2017

Walter Carl Becker founded Steely Dan with singer and songwriter Donald Fagen in 1972, and with the help of many talented session musicians, the band released a string of popular and critically acclaimed albums that combined rock, jazz and studio wizardry in unprecedented fashion. (Read the full obituary)

Holger Czukay

March 24, 1938Sept. 5, 2017

In its early-’70s prime, Can was dedicated to collective improvisation — as Czukay put it last year to Mojo, “We were not thinking. When you make music together, you have to reach a common accident.” At its best, the group sounded like a single organism. But one man, Czukay, collectively tuned them. (Read the full obituary)

Don Williams

May 27, 1939Sept. 8, 2017

Williams topped country charts with regularity through the ’70s, in songs characterized by an easygoing, Sunday-afternoon air and delivered with a smooth voice that walked the seam of a front-porch baritone and stage-ready tenor. (Read the full obituary)

Jessi Zazu

July 28, 1989Sept. 12, 2017

As a songwriter, she grew up in front of her loving audience’s eyes: Her early Those Darlins songs are sass explosions pierced through with shards of insight, while later ones reveal a woman digging into herself, facing her own vulnerabilities aided by an increasingly sophisticated feminist consciousness. (Read the full obituary)

Grant Hart

March 18, 1961Sept. 13, 2017

[Hart was] a drummer and songwriter best known as a member of Minneapolis’ widely influential punk trio, Hüsker Dü. … Ten years of collaboration [saw] Hüsker Dü transition from speed-obsessed hardcore punks to the architects of the melodic, high-concept double album Zen Arcade. The trio’s final album, Warehouse: Songs & Stories, was a relatively bright piece that would help define the sound of alternative and college rock for nearly a decade after. (Read the full obituary)

Charles Bradley

Nov. 5, 1948Sept. 23, 2017

Known for a powerful and pained rasp that he used to channel both his demons and deep gratitude, Bradley released his debut album, No Time For Dreaming, at 62. He would become a totemic artist for the Brooklyn label Daptone, best known for its revivalist ’60s soul. (Read the full obituary)

Tom Petty

Oct. 20, 1950Oct. 2, 2017

“Music,” Petty told host Melissa Block on All Things Considered in 2014, “is a real magic: It affects human beings, it can heal, it can do wonderful things. I’ve had two people contact me in my life about coming out of comas to their family playing a song to them of mine, that they had liked before they were injured. They credited the song having something to do with that. I find that fascinating. A lot of people have told me, ‘This music got me through a really hard time,’ and I can relate to that.” (Read the full obituary)

Grady Tate

Jan. 14, 1932Oct. 8, 2017

The precision and ebullient feeling in Tate’s drumming made him a first call, in the studio and on tour, for many of the finest singers of the ’60s and ’70s, including Ella Fitzgerald, Tony Bennett, Lena Horne and Peggy Lee. … [And] a generation of kids grew up hearing Tate’s voice on the soundtrack for Schoolhouse Rock! (Read the full obituary)

Gord Downie

Feb. 6, 1964Oct. 17, 2017

The Tragically Hip has been called Canada’s house band, the Canadian Bruce Springsteen, the most Canadian band ever. Over three decades, frontman Gord Downie and his band rose from high school buddies playing bars in Kingston, Ontario, to a national treasure, singing about Canada’s landscape and history. (Read the full obituary)

Fats Domino

Feb. 5, 1928Oct. 24, 2017

Between 1950 and 1963, Domino hit the R&B charts a reported 59 times, and the pop charts a rollicking 63 times. He outsold Little Richard, Chuck Berry and Buddy Holly — combined. Only Elvis Presley moved more records during that stretch — and Presley cited Domino as the early master. (Read the full obituary)

Muhal Richard Abrams

Sept. 19, 1930Oct. 29, 2017

Abrams was a brilliant, mostly self-taught pianist who combined a strong foundation in the blues with keen attunement to the shadow art of vibration and overtone. While he came up in a hard-swinging jazz context, and created some of his early work in that style, he was serious about a non-idiomatic approach to improvisation. (Read the full obituary)

Johnny Hallyday

June 15, 1943Dec. 5, 2017

Although little known to audiences outside the Francophone zone, Hallyday sold 100 million records, dominating the French rock scene for five decades. He also appeared in numerous films. The French referred to him simply as “Our Johnny.” (Read the full obituary)

Lil Peep

Nov. 1, 1996Nov. 15, 2017

Born Gustav Åhr, Lil Peep … was part of a scene that broke a new sub-genre of emo-rap, but his was the most prominent voice, and he was the artist primed to take it into the mainstream. His signature lo-fi, rock-sampling beats and gothic, vulnerable delivery caught the attention of fans and record labels when he moved to Los Angeles. (Read the full obituary)

Malcolm Young

Jan. 6, 1953Nov. 18, 2017

Over the decades, AC/DC’s swaggering, hard-driving songs — hits like “Highway to Hell,” “Back In Black” and “You Shook Me All Night Long” — were power-chord perfection to hard rock and metal fans across the globe, and made the band a multi-decade institution. (Read the full obituary)

David Cassidy

April 12, 1950Nov. 21, 2017

Within a year of his screen test, he had been signed to his life-changing role as the oldest child in a family of five aspiring pop singers and their musically gifted mother — played by Shirley Jones, Cassidy’s real-life stepmother. By the time he was 20, Cassidy was one of the world’s most recognizable television and music stars, even though he had never sung publicly until he became Keith Partridge. (Read the full obituary)

George Avakian

March 15, 1919Nov. 22, 2017

Over the course of a long career that began in his early 20s, Avakian worked closely with many jazz legends, including Duke Ellington and Louis Armstrong. He also shaped core perceptions around jazz’s historical recordings, creating both the first jazz album and the first jazz reissue program. And he helped put the music in relatable context, savoring his reputation as “the father of jazz album annotation.” (Read the full obituary)

Jon Hendricks

Sept. 16, 1921Nov. 22, 2017

First and foremost, he was a storyteller: funny, dexterous with language and erudite. Jon Hendricks could reference practically anything in his lyrics — from the controversy over Shakespeare’s identity to the Spanish Civil War — and make them swing. (Read the full obituary)

Dmitri Hvorostovsky

Oct. 16, 1962Nov. 22, 2017

After Hvorostovsky won the Cardiff Singer of the World competition in 1989, his success was sealed. … He told NPR in 2004 that when words fail, the communicative power of singing takes over. “When the words are becoming speechless, hopeless and helpless,” Hvorostovsky said, “at that moment, singing starts.” (Read the full obituary)

Sunny Murray

Sept. 21, 1936Dec. 8, 2017

As one of the leading figures of the free-jazz movement in the 1960s, Murray forged a revolutionary style. … Best known for his groundbreaking work with pianist Cecil Taylor and saxophonist Albert Ayler, Murray also backed a wide range of other intrepid improvisers, and performed and recorded as a leader through most of his five-decade career. (Read the full obituary)

Reggie Ossé

July 8, 1964Dec. 20, 2017

The Combat Jack Show … scored some of the rarest and rawest hip-hop interviews of an era when rap’s center of gravity started its move toward the Internet. Ossé was able to get gems out of otherwise reserved or reclusive rappers by employing a type of interview style many emulate today. (Read the full obituary)

Roswell Rudd

Nov. 17, 1935Dec. 21, 2017

Rudd personified a warm and agreeable bluster as an improviser, with a sound that was unmistakable in any setting. And those settings varied wildly, because Rudd was the sort of musician who couldn’t help but draw connections: between throwback jazz traditions and a forward-hurtling revolution; between folk customs from far-flung hemispheres; between musicians of divergent backgrounds, objectives and approaches. (Read the full obituary)

On This Day in History

On this date in history, 11/1/2008, I attended one of the most treasured of all my concert memories. This one took place in Bloomington, IN. I had driven down to visit my parents and they surprised me with tickets to see B.B. King at the Indiana University Auditorium. The King of the Blues was 83 years young at the time and although he performed the entire show seated, his voice was still extremely powerful, and his playing on his beloved Lucille was a gift to the universe! Of course, every time B.B. would speak between songs he had the audience eating out of his hands. He had a real human touch that made everyone feel like they knew him personally. His status as a giant of music was built on this humanity as much as the talent that went along with it. This was the first (and only) time my folks got to see B.B., so I was completely thrilled that we were treated to an absolutely stellar show. The band was on fire, as they were every time I was privileged to see the man. Sound and lights were dialed in perfectly, fit for a King. The Larry McRae Band opened the show with a pleasant set of blues, but stayed only long enough to get the crowd primed for the main event. All in all, it was a perfect evening with my wonderful parents and a blues legend!

Written By Braddon S. Williams aka The Concert Critic

On this Day in History

On this date in history, 9/14/1984, I met a legend! I was in Los Angeles visiting a friend who lived there are that time. We went so some local country club to see B.B. King and it was my first time to witness the man and the lovely Lucille.
So many amazing memories of this show are imprinted in my consciousness…the band played a couple of songs by themselves before B.B. joined them on stage and they were fantastic. B.B.’s other guitar player was incredible, playing a very jazz influenced blues style, but once the King was up there, all attention was on him.
Most singers sing directly into the microphone, but B.B. often sang with his face about a foot away from it, and his voice just boomed out of him; that deep, rich, earthy tone that was born to sing the blues.

B.B. King – Sweet Little Angel (Live)

Then there was the tone of Lucille…oh, my my! I fell instantly in love with that sound and with the subtlety and minimalism of his playing. Every note perfectly placed, every phrase having just the right flow!
After they were done, we stayed and got to talk briefly to B.B. and the band. I shook hands with him and told him that I play guitar and didn’t want to wash my hand until some of his tone sunk into my soul. He smiled and maybe chuckled a little. Who can say how many white boys said a variation of the same words to him throughout his career?
There was a dignity and a warmth that radiated off of B.B. King. I don’t believe he had quite attained the mythical status he achieved in the last 20 years of his life, but he was certainly on course for it, and a lot of us guitar players already knew. He was the King of the Blues and I shook his hand and made him smile. I’m smiling right now…RIP B.B. King.
Written By Braddon S. Williams aka The Concert Critic

On This Day in History

On this date in history, 9/10/2000,the blues came to Deer Creek. B.B. King, Buddy Guy, Susan Tedeschi and Corey Harris held a blues seminar that was simply sublime.

As you may guess, this was a pretty special show! I believe we arrived right before Susan Tedeschi started her set. She was really good, with a soulful heat permeating her passionate delivery.

Speaking of heat, things heated up considerably when Buddy Guy took the stage. He played and sang like a man possessed, and maybe he was…possessed by the spirit of the blues.

After Buddy’s intense set, B.B. King came out and held serve! Although he was seated for his performance, time had yet to diminish the King’s powerful voice, and of course, Lucille sang with magic all her own.

The sweet sounds the man conjured out of that guitar were some of the best tones ever heard in any form of music. I wish that Buddy and B.B. would have jammed together, but that is a minor complaint in an otherwise perfect night of blues mastery!

Written By Braddon S. Williams aka The Concert Critic

On This Day in History

On this date in history, 8/15/1996, Joe Cocker, Buddy Guy, The Fabulous Thunderbirds, and Radiators appeared at Deer Creek to serenade us with their blues and classic rock soulfulness.

This was one of those shows where my companions and I arrived a little late, so I can only report on the final 2 acts. This was my first time seeing the legendary Buddy Guy, and it was magnificent, to say the very least. Chicago blues at its finest, played with a fiery intensity that would have done a much younger man proud.

Buddy was a spry 60 year old at the time, singing and playing with such authority and command of his art, literally turning the outdoor arena into an intimate club with his charismatic delivery. Buddy’s band were all exceptional players, too. His keyboardist definitely stood out on a number of great solos.

Joe Cocker is a legend in his own right and played a really good set of his classics, but I personally felt he should have yielded the top spot to Buddy Guy, who had more fire and passion in his music. That is just a small observation, though…both artists were complimentary of each other’s styles, and the audience benefited from the deep catalogs of amazing music from two hall of fame worthy performers.

Written By Braddon S. Williams aka The Concert Critic

On This Day in History

On this date in history, 8/13/2008, the inaugural edition of the Mayhem Festival arrived at Deer Creek In Noblesville just in time to fill the void left by the dearly departed Ozzfest, which had ceased to be a touring fest after the free show the previous year.

Mayhems’ first lineup featured Slipknot, Disturbed, Dragonforce, Mastodon, Machine Head, Airbourne, Five Finger Death Punch, Walls Of Jericho, Dead Broke, Underoath, 36 Crazyfists, The Red Chord, Black Tide, and Suicide Silence.

I always love finding a band I’ve never heard before and getting to witness a set that makes me a fan. Such was the case with Suicide Silence…they just took that stage and OWNED IT…just an absolutely crushing set of brutality, insane energy, and pure confidence.

The Red Chord made me a fan, too. I didn’t get to see much of their set because I was in the process of meeting Machine Head when they were on stage, but as I was talking to Rob Flynn, he suddenly jumped up on a chair and told me to check out an event that was taking place during The Red Chord’s set.

They did a “Wall Of Death” that was utterly crazy…first time I had ever seen one of those. Rob Flynn, who has most likely seen everything that metal has to offer, took the time to make sure I got to see it, and I glanced over at him and marveled at the gleam in his eyes and the huge grin on his face and realized that he is just as much a fan of our beloved metal music as I am. Needless to say, my love of Machine Head grew 3 sizes that day, much like the Grinch’s heart in the Dr. Seuss fable.

A few quick words about Walls Of Jericho before I get back to the mighty Machine Head…they were so amazing! Candace Kucsulain, the ginger headed female lead singer of the metalcore band, was literally like the Tasmanian Devil, exhorting the metal masses to start circle pits, crowd surf, and just jump up and down and scream their heads off. She knows how to get a crowd into it, and her band used that skill set to great advantage.

I put them right up there with Suicide Silence on the intensity Richter Scale! Machine Head were the final band on the second stage, and they were phenomenal. Flynn’s vocals were just massive and perfect, and the band were tighter than anything this side of Megadeth…just a fine tuned killing machine, I mean Machine Fucking Head!

Mastodon began the proceedings on the main stage and brought their own precision to their unique brand of progressive metal. Brann Dailor is one of the best drummers in metal, perhaps in all of rock music, and his playing is the perfect style for the band’s ever shifting canvas of complex riffs.

I’m not a fan of Dragonforce (although I have to acknowledge that their guitar players are extremely gifted players…the vocals and rehashed Iron Maiden ripoff rhythm patterns by the drummer and bass player just ruin it for me), and I actively dislike Disturbed, so I took a break during their sets and gathered energy for the storm that is Slipknot.

The 9 finished the virginal edition of Mayhem with a colossal show that the Iowa bred madmen have perfected over the course of their long career…everything louder, brighter, faster, and crazier than everything else…and that’s a good way to close out a show that had just begun a great 8 year run!

Written By Braddon S. Williams aka The Concert Critic


On This Day in History

On this date in history, 6/20/1999, I finished a 3 day run of concerts by seeing B.B. King and Robert Cray on the final day of the Indy Jazz Fest. After doing a little research I just discovered that this was the first year of the Indy Jazz Fest and the show took place at White River State Park in downtown Indianapolis. In addition to B.B. King and Robert Cray, the lineup included Isaac Hayes, Chaka Khan, George Benson, Los Lobos, Sonny Rollins, Chris Izaak, Branford Marsalis, and Freddie Hubbard. The event began on the 17th and ended with the performance I attended. There were so many people at this show that we didn’t really get to see Robert Cray as we moved through the crowd looking for a place to sit. He sounded great, though, and I have always loved his voice and smooth guitar style. I had seen B. B. once before and remembered that his band ran through a couple of songs before the man took the stage. Since this was a jazz festival, the band really got to show off their skills in this segment and the crowd roared their approval in anticipation of the main event. Hearing the sound and tone of “Lucille”, B.B.’s legendary guitar, out in the open air, is such a vivid memory for me. It was just a glorious sonic experience! Of course the man’s singing voice was equally fantastic, and although he remained seated throughout his set, the audience were all on our feet by the end, the perfect final act for the inaugural Indy Jazz Fest, and the perfect end for 3 consecutive days of stellar shows for me.

Written By Braddon S. Williams aka The Concert Critic

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