Nev discusses the benefits of looking back
RECENTLY I WAS involved in a gig at Bristol Jazz & Blues Festival to mark 50 years since Cream’s dissolution. There were three guitars, bass and drums and we’d done the same last year for Jimi Hendrix’s debut album, Are You Experienced.
I mention it because, while several of the guys involved revered Hendrix, they didn’t have quite the same uncurbed admiration for Clapton, Bruce and Baker. This was all to change once we got down to learning the set.
One guitarist, a great mate and equally great player, has always expressed mild disdain for EC. But after boning up on the tunes at home he said: “How does he do that ‘major-minor’ thing? I don’t understand it and I’m really struggling with it.” The bassist, an equally fabulous musician stated, “Until I started playing this stuff I never knew that the licks I’d learned from my prog heroes, all came from Jack.”
We had several get-togethers and each time the appreciation for the compositions and the players grew. After the gig, which went extraordinarily well, we all agreed that it was a better night than last year, and that the music was more interesting, rewarding and fun to play. The reception from the sold-out crowd seemed to confirm this.
My point is, going back to the source (okay, they weren’t the source, but you know what I mean), can often reveal qualities that we hadn’t previously realised were there, and therefore not appreciated.
Joe Bonamassa, like Eric Clapton before him, is a scholar of blues and rock. He’s done his homework; gone back to where it began for him, then delved further to reveal these artists’ own idols and influences. You may recall Justin Sandercoe extolling the virtues of this approach in last month’s column.
Richard Barrett’s superb cover article offers a short-cut to Joe’s huge range and abilities and is crammed with brilliant stuff to learn. Once you’ve feasted yourself on all things Bonamassa, don’t forget to revisit Cream, Free, BB, Rory, Gary, Eric J, SRV et al, to remind you of who inspired Joe. Then do a bit of research to discover the guys that turned them on so much that they dropped everything to dedicate their lives to becoming a blues or rock musician.
See you soon.