Photos: Martine Ehrenclou
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by Martine Ehrenclou

The theater was packed. Not an empty seat in the house. Opening exactly at 8pm, Joe Bonamassa, with one of his to-die-for Les Paul guitars in hand, erupted with the song, “This Train,” off of his album Blues of Desperation.

Backed by a band of kick ass, A-list musicians and back up singers, it was nothing short of a thrill to see JB play. Talk about masterful guitar players who set the night afire with rock and blues tunes that celebrated not just those two genres but guitar playing itself.

Jamming on several different guitars that night, including a couple of sweet Les Pauls, Fender Strats, a Fender Nocaster, Gibson ES 335, an Epiphone Firebird and others, Bonamassa ripped on every song. His band consisted of Anton Fig on drums (who was nothing short of amazing,) Reese Wynans on keyboard (also amazing and a member of Stevie Ray Vaughan’s Double Trouble) Michael Rhodes on bass, Lee Thornburg on Trumpet, Paulie Cerra on sax, Ron Dziubla on sax, and Leesa Richards and Wendy Moten on back up vocals.

It was a night of world-class musicianship.

It took Bonamassa about three songs or so to unleash a magnificent guitar solo on “No Good Place For the Lonely.” The crowd went wild. This, after all, is what we had come for—to see Joe Bonamassa’s fingers blaze the fretboard and to hear the magnificent tone he creates with each of his guitars.

When he played “Don’t Lie to Me,” a song I’d first heard done by Albert King and Stevie Ray Vaughan “In Session”  my heart raced with the quickstep beat.

By the third to last number, “Going Down,” the entire audience was on its feet, hollering and hooting during the pauses JB created for the crowd to chime in. We whooped and clapped in the spaces he left open for us to join him.
I suspect many attended this concert expecting JB to play mostly blues and blues-rock. He added in a significant number of rock songs, including the Led Zeppelin tune, “How Many More Times” and the Hendrix song, “Hey Baby.” But I doubt anyone was disappointed with the two-hour show.

Offering a tribute to the late Leon Russell, Bonamassa launched into the song, “Hummingbird,” which Russell wrote. JB’s vocals were searing and yet soft, even sexy on this song.

I don’t think I’ve ever seen a performer as gracious and grateful to his band as Joe Bonamassa. He complimented each member, thanking those who sat in for other members that night. A class act from start to finish.

I have to mention the back up singers, who are often an after thought with many bands. Leesa Richards and Wendy Moten had powerhouse voices and added just enough to round out this absolute quality show.

NOTE: my video failed on my camera this night. I have to give credit to blisstanger on YouTube for the video.

Blues of Desperation is available on: