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  • An Acoustic Evening at The Vienna Opera House

    An Acoustic Evening at The Vienna Opera House

    Artist: Joe Bonamassa

    Label: J&R Adventures

    Released: March 26, 2013 / Reviewed: March 24, 2013

    Regular Boomerocity readers know that I have a short version review of any Joe Bonamassa project.  This time is no exception.  Ready?  Here it is:  

    Love it/buy it.  

     For those of you who just like to read whatever I write, here’s the unabridged version:  

    When I received my review copies recently of the Joe Bonamassa’s CD and DVD package, An Acoustic Evening At The Vienna Opera House, I was like a little kid on Christmas morning.  I was pogo-stick happy to get my grubby paws on these and couldn’t wait to pop them into my players.    

    I wasn’t at all disappointed.  

    The only difference between the CD and the DVD (besides the obvious video) are a couple of comments from Joe and band members between a couple of songs.  Other than that, the track lists are virtually identical.  

    The songs were recorded live at the Vienna Opera House in Austria.  Joe was joined by four other musicians (Gerry OConnor on Irish Banjo and fiddle, Mats Wester on yckelharpa and mandola, Alran Schierbaum on harmonium, accordion, baby piano and glockenspiel, and Lenny Castro on percussion) who had all met for the first time there.  

    How cool is that?  

    Bonamassa fans will be glad to see some old favorites on these discs such as The Ballad of John Henry, Ball Peen Hammer, Sloe Gin, and one of my personal favorites, Mountain Time.  The latter will surprise fans, though, in that Joe gives it a bit of a blue grass/country feel which is fine by me. I still love it. Some newer tunes are on the set list, too.  Greats like Driving Towards Daylight, Slow Train, and Dust Bowl. Oldies or newbies, hearing them all “unplugged” and in the beautiful setting of the Vienna Opera House is both an audio and visual treat not to be denied.  

    To show you how jazzed I am about this release, I will play the first cut, Arrival, over and over on my player or, if the DVD is on, I’ll leave it on the menu page and just let the music of Arrival play on a continuous loop.   

    Yeah, it’s that good.

    Obviously, Bonamassa fans like me will snatch these two discs right up without having to listen to any samples.  However, I would suggest that these same fans perhaps buy an addition copy or two to give to your friends who are only into acoustic guitar work. They’ll undoubtedly love Joe’s work and become diehard fans, too. 

     

  • Beth Hart (2013)

    Posted May, 2013

     

    Beth Hart. Haven’t heard of her? Okay, well, she’s not quite yet a household name but just wait, she will be. What makes me so sure? I’m glad you asked. There are several reasons. 

    First, for some people, it just seems to be a blinding glimpse of the obvious. The story is told that, when she was four years old, she saw a commercial advertising pianos that had as a musical backdrop Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata. In the middle of the night, she got up and played a segment of the song on the family piano, which drew out all of the family in amazement. She says of that moment, “ . . . the ham in me knew right away that this was what I wanted to do. I just knew . . .”

    Second, she’s been in the music business for over twenty years, getting a big, early boost by winning the national title to Ed McMahon’s Star Search – long before there was an American Idol or The Voice. As her reputation grew, she garnered the attention of such guitar greats as Jeff Beck and Slash, working collaboratively with them on various projects. 

    What has apparently set Beth’s musical career on a whole new trajectory was the result of a serendipitous meeting with guitar great, Joe Bonamassa, in a hotel lobby. Beth was asked to join Bonamassa in 2011 on the Kevin Shirley produced CD,Don’t Explain – a great album of soul-rock covers. It was this CD that brought the classically trained Hart to the attention of Boomerocity and legions of other new fans-for-life.

    Adding to the growing fan basecame Jeff Beck’s invitation for Beth to join him on the2012 Kennedy Center Honors to pay tribute to blues legend Buddy Guy, performing the Etta James classic (and one of Boomerocity’s all-time-favorites) I’d Rather Go Blind. While viewers may have tuned in to see Led Zeppelin or David Letterman being honored, as the Baltimore Sun wrote, “Everyone was on their feet when {Beck and Hart’s} soul-searing performance ended.”

    I can second that “emotion” by saying that every time I post the video of that performance on my Facebook

    What a reintroduction to America!

    In March of this year, Ms. Hart followed up Don’t Explain with the critically acclaimedBang Bang Boom Boom. It was in support of this album that I was fortunate and privileged to speak with her about the album after her return from touring in Europe. Despite the extensive globetrotting, she sounded relaxed and well-rested. Obviously, she’s quite the seasoned tour veteran.

    As we started our conversation I asked Beth what the reaction to Bang Bang Boom Boomhas been so far both here and abroad.

    “Well, you know, I just love the CD so much. I’m so excited about it. But, you know, I know better – I’ve been around long enough to know not everyone is going to like it, right? So, when I started doing the press work, I can’t believe how amazingly supportive everyone has been and it just thrills me to pieces! 

    If I’ve counted correctly, in your twenty year career, Bang Bang Boom Boom is your ninth solo album (counting the ones with your bands), not counting your two duets with Joe Bonamassa, correct?

    “It counts the Don’t Explainrecord but not the See Saw record. The Seesawrecord will be the tenth. Also included in that is the Live at Paradiso DVD that we also made as a record. So, it would actually be the tenth if you include Seewaw.

    With that impressive body of work solidly under her belt, I asked Beth what was different in making this album compared with her other work.

    “Well, by far, the first record I ever made was a record called Ocean of Souls. I was twenty years old. I didn’t like it because I don’t think I was really confident in myself and the people I was working with. It was kind of all over the place. I was scared. But, then, once it was finished, I thought it was nice. But the actual process of it – you know, I’m kind of a neurotic, OCD type of personality and I’m used to being in the studio for years because my producer was also my manager for years – since I was fifteen. So, we spent a lot of time in the studio together but now we were actually making a real record. 

    “Then, when I signed over at Atlantic, I made a record called Immortal which was my first major record company album and I didn’t really enjoy that, either. Again, I loved the music. I loved my band. But it was the process. I was going, ‘I guess making records is just not for me. I’m really not enjoying the process.’

    “It wasn’t until I produced my third record, Screamin for My Supper, with a good buddy of mine, Tal Herzberg, who was my bass player. Then I started really enjoying making records! Maybe it was because I was more in control. Maybe that gave me more security. I could kind of do things the way I wanted. But, still, it never became my favorite thing to do until I did a record called 37 Days where we started recording everything live together as a band to tape with vocals. That’s when I found, “Okay! This is the way I’m supposed to make records! This is how I love it!” So, yeah, that’s the only way I like to do it now.”

    As for her latest record, “It was real fluid, easy and exciting. Ever since we started with Joe Bonamassa on the Don’t Explainrecord with Kevin Shirley producing – who’s an absolute genius! He’s my favorite person to work with! I hope to God I get to work with him on every record for the rest of my life! And, then, the second record I worked with Kevin Shirley was Bang Bang Boom Boom – this record that we’re talking about tonight. And, then the third record is the Seesawrecord, which has not come out yet. But all three records – the first one, Don’t Explain, four days to make the record. On Bang Bang Boom Boom,six days to make the record and Seesawwas six days. So Kevin works fast and we do everything simultaneous to tape and it’s just heaven that way! It’s really great!”

    As I’ve stated in other interviews, I know that artists refuse to pick a favorite song on their albums because it’s like picking your favorite child. However, I asked Beth if she were to pick only one song from the CD as THE song to play for someone to hopefully entice them to pick it up, which song would it be? Before I could even finish the question, she blurted out unequivocally, “Baddest Blues. That’s by far my fave. Yeah, I love that song so much and I think it embodies the colors of the whole record within that one.”

    Ms. Hart then shared the story behind that song.

    “Well, one of my favorite songs is the Billie Holiday song, Don’t Explain, and a song called Strange Fruit. Nina Simone does a phenomenalversion of Strange Fruit. I grew up as a kid just being a huge Billie fan because my mother was and my mother always had just the best taste in music. Anyway, I was thinking about those two songs. I started working on the music first, which is what I always do when I’m writing. I kind of got some music down for it and started working on arrangements for it. I had a bit of a melody that I was messing with, as well. And, then, when it came time for the lyrics - which is another thing I do, I let the music dictate to me what the lyric is going to be, what it makes me think of, whether it’s a memory or projection of some dream I may have of the future.

    “So, what it started speaking to me about was my mother and father’s divorce. My mother is such a strong, strong survivor of a woman but it broke her for a period and she ended up in bed for a few months. She just couldn’t get out. And to see such a powerful, strong woman broken like that was devastating to a little girl to see that happen to your mother. Also, Billie Holiday, the pain she suffered in her life. Billie and my mother remind me so much of each other. So, that was my muse for the song. I just love it even though it’s a painful topic, the truth is she did survive. She made it through it and better for it on the other side. She’s just an honorable, beautiful woman. She’s seventy-seven and she’s still strong and has more energy than I’ll ever have.”

    My research showed – as does Beth’s performances – that she’s a very intense person. I wondered if writing a song as personal and emotionally impactful to her, personally, does that drain her.

    “No! God no! Not at all! It’s just the opposite. You know what does drain me that I make sure I stay away from at all costs? Is trying to write something for radio or trying to write something that you think will be a hit. That is exhausting. Forget it. You can never do it. You never know what they’re going to play. It’s a waste of time. But what gives me energy is getting to the truth. The funny thing is for me to tell the truth. Even when I’m ready and I want to and I want to be able to divulge whatever things I’m dealing with or struggling with – or even excited about – to be about to articulate it in the most honest way possible is very, very hard. Not because I’m scared of anybody hearing it but I don’t know if I can get me to do it. Because I could be in denial or be in a protective place where I don’t want to admit to myself that’s how I feel. So that’s really what the struggle is. It’s not the music, it’s the lyric. Really, I work on it and I work on it and I try to get myself to feel as safe and secure as I can to just be able to be a real human being; to not have it together; to not try and convince myself that I’m okay. And when I finally let myself divulge that, yeah, I’m not okay. I’m still screwed up with stuff, there’s something so freeing about that, getting that load off and go, ‘Ah!’, you know? That’s my favorite part about writing. I love to get to that place.”

    I hate asking artists questions that I know have been asked them a million times. However, since I know that Ms. Hart is a new name to some Boomerocity readers, I had to ask (for your benefit, of course) who her musical influences were as she was growing up. 

    “I have so many, oh my god! Beethoven, Bach, Rachmoninoff, Billie Holiday, Etta James, Aretha Franklin, Ella Fitzgerald, Dinah Washington, Black Sabbath, Led Zeppelin, Soundgarden, Alice In Chains, Bob Marley, Peter Tosh, The Ramones, Carol King, James Taylor, Hank Williams, Johnny Cash, Patsy Cline. I could just go on and on and on. Every genre of music I’ve ever been turned on to – any Latin music, African music, Chinese music, any kind that I’ve ever heard in my life, I’ve just been dumbfounded by the miracle of it, the beauty of it. Human beings have so much to say in all forms of art and it’s all over the world. It’s so beautiful. So gorgeous. It really shows you how people really feel about what’s going on in the world. It’s just fantastic. There’s some good stuff out there.”

    Some in the industry have compared Beth to the late, great Janis Joplin. I asked her how she felt about that comparison.

    “Oh, I just absolutely adore her! You know, I never grew up listening to her. It wasn’t until I got into my early twenties that I kept hearing people say, ‘Hey, you remind me of Janis.’ So I said, ‘I’ve gotta go out and I gotta get this Janis person and see who this is.’ Well! When I got some of her records and when I got some video tapes back when they had video stores and I watched some of her stuff live, I just realized that I was really looking a real legend; someone who was a pioneer; someone who had unbelievable courage; such talent and huge range! I think she would’ve gone on to do so much more great and fabulous art. It’s an absolute tragedy to die so young but what she left behind was wonderful, I think, for men and absolutely for women. No matter who you are, if you get enough fight in you and gumption in you, you can do anything! She showed that a white woman could do heavy rock and roll and make it fabulous. She really delivered that. Every time someone mentions Janis to me, I’m so honored and happy to hear that! Of course!”

    In a gee-whiz moment, I mentioned that I thought it would be great if she did a gig or two with Janis’ old band, Big Brother and the Holding Company. Ms. Hart said, “You know, I got to work quite a bit with Sam Andrew (original and surviving member of BBHC), who was there original guitar player. He’s fantastic! He worked with us when we did the off-Broadway Love Janis. He’s a lovely man. Such a warm and kind man. Highly intelligent. Oh yeah! I feel like an idiot when I’m talking to him but I love him anyway! Ha! Ha!”                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    

    With such great names having influenced her musical tastes as she was growing up, I asked her who was capturing her attention these days.

    “Oh god! So many people are grabbing my attention! I’m crazy in love with Vintage Trouble and, thankfully, I can say that I know the guys very, very well. They’re great guys! What AMAZINGperformers! Great music and so soulful! Ty Taylor is one of the best front men I’ve seen on stage. I’m a big fan! Aloe Blacc is so fantastic, the music he’s doing. Unbelievable talent! I was the hugest fan in the world of Amy Winehouse. I know we just lost her a few years back now but I just loved what she was doing. I thought she was right up there with Ella Fitzgerald and Dinah Washington and Billie Holiday. Her writing, her singing, her phrasing – just an extraordinary talent. I’m a big fan of Florence Welch of Florence and the Machine. She’s a great songwriter! Great, great music they’re coming up with over there. I’m into Gary Clark, Jr. right now. So, yeah, there’s some stuff out there that I really enjoy!”

    Beth Hart has had to deal with a few personal matters in her life. Those challenges have been thoroughly covered in other excellent interviews and I saw no need whatsoever to have her rehash them in this interview. However, I know that she’s learned a lot from her challenges and I asked her what encouraging advice would she like to give to women – and even men – who deal with the same matters as she has and does.

    “One in four people with mental illness will die of suicide. That’s a fact – a statistic. There’s no getting around that. If you have a bipolar disorder, it’s so dangerous. You absolutely, ABSOLUTELYhave to find a doctor you trust and will get you on proper medication and then you have to take that medication. Just like you have to eat to live, you have to take the medication to not kill yourself or go so manic, so crazy that you end up in a hospital several times a year or you may hurt someone else.

    “It’s a dangerous, dangerous disease. It’s not your fault. There’s no guilt or shame. That’s a big part of the illness – you feel very ashamed, very guilty. You don’t understand why you keep behaving this way. But it’s not because you’re bad at all – in any way. You’re sick. There really is help that can really make a difference in your life! Please! Get a good doctor and medicine and do whatever you can to learn how to take care of that brain! There’s a lot of wonderful, natural ways, also that help the brain but not without medication.”

    With our time winding up, I asked Beth the same final question I have asked many other artists: When she’s performed her last gig and she’s gone to that great stage in the sky, how does she want to be remembered?

    “I hope that I’ll be remembered that I really put it out there and loved being alive. How beautiful it is to be alive! And the gift – the gift of life, making music and having people you love; your family, your friends. Food! How wonderful food is and nature and God. And, if you don’t believe in God, that’s cool, too, you know. Being an atheist, maybe is into the forest or something. It doesn’t matter. Just enjoy life and, hopefully, that came through the music – the joy of making music and of being alive, more than anything!”

    Beth will undoubtedly be around for many years to come and will be delighting fans with her albums and performances. Check out her website (here) to stay in the loop about her latest tour schedule and upcoming CD releases.

  • Beth Hart and Joe Bonamassa Live In Amsterdam (CD & DVD)

    Beth Hart and Joe Bonamassa Live In Amsterdam (CD & DVD)
    Artists: Beth Hart and Joe Bonamassa
    Label/Studio: J&R Adventures
    Release Date: March 25, 2014
    Review Date: March 23, 2014

    If you’ve read Boomerocity for very long at all then you, a) already know that I’m a HUGE fan of both Beth Hart (see the Boomerocity interview with her here) as well as of Joe Bonamassa.  Suffice it to say, my opinion of either of them hasn’t changed with the dual CD/DVD release of Beth Hart and Joe Bonamassa Live In Amsterdam. 

    The recently GRAMMY nominated Hart and Bonamassa,  will deliver Beth Hart & Joe Bonamassa – Live In Amsterdam (2DVD/Blu-ray/2CD) – their first jointly recorded live offering. Beth’s amazingly powerful voices and Bonamassa’s legendary guitar abilities make this offering a true audio/visual treat. Recorded live at the historic Koninklijk Theater Carré in Amsterdam, the smokin’ hot performance blows you away with their performances of songs from the duo's 2011 debut album Don't Explain and the follow-up to it, Seesaw.  You’ll hear incredible live performances of songs originally made famous by artists such as Aretha Franklin, Etta James, Billie Holiday, Tom Waits, Ray Charles, Donnie Hathaway, Lucinda Williams, Bill Withers, Delaney & Bonnie, Buddy Miles, Tina Turner, Slackwax, Melody Gardot, Nina Simone, and more.

    This project was born from what Hart, Bonamassa, and Bonamassa's long-time producer Kevin Shirley call a "crazy idea" to record a catalog of songs in a way that recalls the days when a band recorded live in the studio with little or no overdubs; the days when the vocalist was happy when a take was done regardless of personal performance.

    "What we're trying to capture is an era of reaction and spontaneity – something that was a great inspiration for me as a budding musician," explained Bonamassa. "It's a bygone era in lieu of modern times and digital studio manipulation. We wanted to do the exact opposite of that for this live concert. There were no nets and what you hear is what was sung and played that night."

    Both Hart and Bonamassa were heavily influenced by these songs and the artists who originally performed them. "We're doing these amazing cover songs and in doing them, and what's so great about doing them, is that it shows part of what excited us and made us want to become artists when we were young and just starting out," said Hart. "You can see that a lot of this was an influence with me, and Joe, and the other musicians, you can hear it in the way everyone plays and performs. This was music that they loved, that touched them. And when you do covers, you get to make them personal. That was part of the goal – to make it like it's your story too. Otherwise how does it come across sincere? I think that's one of the challenges and it's very fulfilling if we feel like we're doing that."

    The one-two punch of Hart's powerhouse vocals and Bonamassa's blistering solos both honors and reinvents the original recordings. Featuring 22 songs and over two hours of bonus and behind-the-scenes footage, the sonic pairing that critics everywhere are calling a "match made in heaven" are backed by the same world class band that kept the grooves going on both albums: Anton Fig (drums, percussion), Carmine Rojas (bass), Blondie Chaplin (rhythm guitar and backing vocals), Arlan Schierbaum (keyboards). This time out, their mighty sound is augmented by a horn section, with Lee Thornburg (trumpet and percussion), Ron Dziubla (saxophone and percussion), and Carlos Perez Alfonso (trombone and percussion).

    Boomerocity favorites from this package are:

        The fun, crowd-pleasing Amsterdam, Amsterdam.  This tune gets in your head and won’t let go.  The word “fun” comes to mind and you certainly get a sense that that is exactly what is taking place both on stage and in the audience.

        The bluesy and mournful I Love You More Than You’ll Ever Know generated an infinite number of slaps on the repeat button. Beth’s voice is especially amazing as is Joe’s blistering guitar work.  I’d almost say that this tune is worth the price of the entire package but I’m saving that comment for . . .

        I’d Rather Go Blind.  I’ll say it right here and now:  Since we no longer have the great Etta James with us any longer, I can say with absolutely NO reservations that Beth Hart owns this classic.  The bar is sufficiently high enough that I doubt anyone else will ever be able to take this song away for her and call it theirs like Beth has.  Yeah, she’s that great!

  • Beth Hart Discusses Better Than Home

    Posted November, 2015

    Photo by Greg Watermann

         

    To say that Beth Hart is one of the most amazing new female singer/songwriters of the new millennia would be an understatement. 

    Literally discovered in the 90’s while performing on the streets of L.A. by David Wolf (who became her close friend and manager). He managed to land her a record deal with Atlantic in a matter of weeks.

    Her talent has landed her on TV (both performing as well as her songs being used on shows) and even in front of our current president (along with the iconic Jeff Beck). 

    Because of her openness about her battles with booze, drugs, bad relationships and being bi-polar, Beth Hart has inspired many to fight the good fight against their own personal demons.

    I was first turned on to her work four years ago by way of a duet album she recorded with guitar great, Joe Bonamassa, entitled “Don’t Explain”, in 2011. She won me over with her treatment of the Etta James hit, “I’d Rather Go Blind”, making permanent and me an instant fan. A couple of years later, I had the thrill of conducting my first interview with this incredible artist. 

    I was recently afforded yet another opportunity to chat with her about her latest CD, “Better Than Home” (an album I absolutely love, by the way), prefaced my first question about it by stating that I felt that it was quite an introspective album from her, then asking if that was an accurate observation.

    “Yes, I would say so. I mean, I typically tend to be pretty vulnerable and open in my writing, anyway. But this record, in particular, went a little deeper there. I turned in a lot of songs to Rob Mathes and Michael Stevens. A lot! These are the ones that they felt the strongest about recording.  I think that the chose a collection that just happened to be on a super personal level that they thought would work together for a record.”

    I shared with Beth that my favorite cut from the disc is “Tell Them To Hold On” and asked her to share her story behind it.

    “Thank you. I love that song! I started writing that a few years ago – several years ago, actually. What inspired me was that I went into the hospital and I really

         

    Photo by Greg Watermann

    wasn’t doing that well. As I started to come around and feel better, I saw a lot of people there with me that hadn’t started feeling better, yet. I felt so much compassion for them because I had just been through the same thing. So, I was kinda, in part, thinking, ‘I swear to God, it gets better, guys! Just hang on in there! No matter how bad or dark or scary it gets, it always gets better! It’s so worth holding on because it just gets better.’ I think that’s where that came from.”

    When I told Beth that I thought that God’s hand was on her when she wrote that song, she said:

    “Thank you. I’d like to think that because I really feel like it’s such a spiritual experience writing. It’s such a healing and wonderful experience. I’ve always felt like God and the angels kinda help me out there, you know? Kinda show me the way. I need to believe that, you know?”

    Realizing that artists don’t like to pick a favorite song from their albums because it’s like picking a favorite child, I asked Ms. Hart which song she would point people to as a calling card for “Better Than Home”.

    “It would be, ‘Tell Her You Belong To Me’.  It was by far the most challenging. It took the longest time to write it. I didn’t know what it was about in the beginning of writing it even though I had lyrics and I had all of the melody. I had all the music done first, which is what I usually do, anyway. But, I had a lot of lyrics and I couldn’t figure out what were the right lyrics. I pondered over it a couple of years. Then, finally, I realized why I was struggling with the lyric because I finally realized who it was about. It was about my dad. That’s why I was afraid to talk about those feelings. Once I figured out what it was about, then I said, ‘Okay, now let’s get this song done!’ I just love it. I love this song so much! I dedicate the album to my dad. I never dedicated a record to my dad before.”

    The title song is truly soul stirring. Beth shared with me the story behind it and how it impacted fans.

    “I’m close with a few of my fans and, when I say that, I mean that they’ve become really good friends of mine and they’re usually people who deal with similar things from difficulty in childhood or mental difficulties. So, yeah, they’re always a part because I know they’re my sounding board. I get to talk to them and say, ‘Hey, this is how I’m feeling,’ and they say, ‘Yeah, I’ve been going through the same thing, lately! This is what I’m doing to get better and this is what I’m doing that’s making me feel better.’ It’s a fantastic thing – especially when I’m writing a song about that. 

    Photo by Greg Watermann

    “For me, ‘Better Than Home’ came from a childhood place of having dreams about things being better; things being different; me taking a different course in my life; the way that I looked at myself and the way that I looked at my own family and the way that I looked at life and creating a new family. I like to think that having a band and, then, also getting married and my manager, David, is like my father. He’s like a father figure to me. I like at that as my new family that I created later in life. 

    “But it’s really standing before God and what I see as spiritual healing and something that looks over me and guiding me and having the courage to say, ‘This is what I want for my life.’ I think it’s hard when you have such low self esteem to say, ‘This is what I really want for my life’ because you feel like you don’t deserve it.

    “So, ‘Better Than Home’ is getting to that place where you realize, despite my insecurities, despite my warped thinking, I absolutely deserve to have everything that I’ve ever wanted: love and health and being able to be responsible for myself and letting go of feeling sorry for myself. All those kinds of things. Music and experiencing life like when you wake up and you go outside and you’re, like, ‘Wow! I’m alive! I’m really lucky and I’m really thankful!’ Those kinds of things. 

    “What I did, though, when I wrote it, was I made it about the road so, that way, I wouldn’t have to explain that personal thing that I add to the song but I could use the road as an example. What the road means to me is just getting out of your house. It doesn’t necessarily have to be singing and doing a show. It just means getting out of where you’re hiding from and experiencing life again. And THAT is better than home – better than hiding.”

    I discovered Beth Hart from her first duet album with guitarist, Joe Bonamassa. She’s also worked with the legendary Jeff Beck and others. A Boomerocity reader who knew I was going to be chatting with Beth wanted to know whom else she would like to work with sometime.

    “You know? I would really, really love to do something with Tom Waits. I don’t know him and I’m sure he doesn’t know who the frick I am but I adore him! I adore his writing. I adore his whole vibe. He is so vulnerable and, then, the next minute he’s absolutely hysterical. He’s got such a broad sense of being able to find art in every form of emotion and the way he does it is so brilliant. I would love to even be a fly on the wall in his room when he’s working. That would be amazing. It’s always been him. Whenever I get that question, I always say Tom Waits.”

    In my interview with Joe Bonamassa last month, I told him that I was going to be chatting with Beth and asked him for a comment about her, to which he said, “I think Beth Hart is probably the most naturally talented singer and musician that I’ve ever been on stage with. She has such a wonderful sense of timing and phasing, vocally, and has an infinite capability, vocally. She commands attention. There’s some people who can really sing. They stand up there and sing. She stomps up there and she takes control of the stage. You can’t teach that kind of stage power and that presence. She’s a very, very, very special individual and I’m very proud of the records that I’ve made with her.”

    When I shared those comments with Ms. Hart, her response was bubbly and from deep within her heart.

    “Oh, my god! That is so amazing! Oh, my god! I love him! He’s so sweet! This is how I feel about Joe: I think that Joe is one of the most extraordinary people

         

    Photo by Greg Watermann

    because, like Jeff Beck, he really works at his craft. He doesn’t just assume that he has all this talent and that’s all he needs. He works at it. He’s on the road. He’s practicing at home. He’s making records. He’s writing songs. He’s covering songs in a brilliant way. And he’s got a HUGE vocabulary. 

    “I think it’s, obviously, a great talent there, but it’s like Jeff. Jeff’s got a great talent but he works his ass off at it. He doesn’t take it for granted in any way. He’s striving to always learn and takes on new challenges. I mean, you can see what he’s done with his career. He’s someone who’s never had Pop success; tons of radio play Pop stations and look at his career! It’s phenomenal and it’s because he works at it. He puts it out there. He never takes it for granted. That’s something that really inspired me when I met him was that I saw his work ethic and his total commitment – not only being an artist but really being someone that gets out there and works the shit out of it. That inspired me so much!

    “Also, he’s incredibly humble and the easiest person to work with. He really inspires the people around him by allowing them to be themselves and showing them that respect and that love. He focuses on his side of the street. I think what that does is you work with people and you let them see that they’re there because you believe in them and you love them and you’re focusing on your thing and you know that they’re going to focus on their thing. And, when you bring it together, it makes it this amazing chemistry. You get the best out of people. That’s another thing I really saw from him and made it a conscious effort to do that in my life, as well. I love his flavors and his styles on things. 

    “Obviously, as a player and as a singer - love him as a singer! I love his voice. I love how he doesn’t push and do that whole showboating bullshit thing. He really has faith in the material and he allows those songs to be played and to be sung for the sake of the song instead of for the sake of showboating and showboating is bullshit. We know that, you know? That only goes so far. After three or four songs, you’re done. You’ve seen the showboating. It’s over. With him, you don’t get that. You can watch him for two hours and it’s always special and it’s always something that is humble and comes from a real place of love for music instead of having to show you how amazing he is. His amazement is in how respects the music and at it from that place.”

    In addition to what she had shared earlier, Beth shared what else is on her radar for the next year.

    Photo by Greg Watermann

         

    “Well, you know, what I decided is doing nine months on the road a year is just too much. It’s getting in the way of my relationships with family, with friends, with being able to be a wife to my husband, and it’s getting in the way of writing. Even thought I work with my husband on the road, it’s still all about the Beth Hart Show. At home, I want to be able to cook for him and go to the beach and ride bikes with him. 

    “I was telling this to my manager recently. I was saying as a writer, I’m not going to write about airplanes and hotels. Who gives a shit about that? I gotta write about real life and in order to write about real life, I have to be connected to real life. 

    “So, I think what’s on the focus for me is, like, seven months out of the year on the road, living a real life and being able to write from that place. Being really healthy. Really balanced. I’m forty-three, now. This is the time where you’ve really got to take care of yourself if you want to live to be old and I want to live to be old! I want to have a long life. I want to be able to be there to take care of my husband when he gets really old the way he’s taken such amazing care of me through all my difficulties. So, I’m kinda reprioritizing things and I think it’s a good thing! I feel really good about that.”

    If Beth’s future is as full of life as she sounded during our call, then, happily, we should be hearing from this beautiful and amazingly talented woman for many years to come . . . and that’s a wonderful thing.

  • Beth Hart Talks About Fire On The Floor

    Posted April 2017

    beth hart mona nordoy 0093a croppedIn my first interview with Beth Hart back in 2013, I said that she wasn’t yet a household name but she would be eventually.

    I still hold to that statement.

    In my second interview with her in 2015, I said that to say that she “is one of the most amazing new female singer/songwriters of the new millennia would be an understatement.” 

    I still hold to that statement, as well.

    I recently spoke with Beth Hart for a third time. She is one of those people who, when you first chat with her, you feel as if you’ve known her all your life. Warm. Embracing. Open. I’ve since learned that she is all of that and much more.

    This recent chat was to discuss her new CD, Fire On The Floor. But, of course, as was the case in our previous two chats, we talked about a bunch of other stuff, too.

    When she answered the phone and I asked how she had been, she was efferve

    Everything Knoxville

    scent in answering.

    “I’m doing so awesome! I’m just loving life these days! I’m really having fun. I don’t think I’ve ever felt as good as I do right now.”

    And what does she attribute that too?

    “I couldn’t agree with you more! I wouldn’t even be surprised if, through gratitude, it actually re-

    wires your brain and it makes you see more and more goodness. When you speak about light and you speak about joy, it’s almost like it does something to where you’re able to receive even more of it, you know what I mean? Kinda like that old saying, ‘Them that got shall get and them that not shall lose.’ Kinda like that!”When I commented about the truly positive impact gratitude has on our lives, Beth chimed back in.“I think, you know, being older and surviving some of the funk. God. My marriage. Music. I feel really, really blessed and really lucky, you know? I think it’s just gratitude. I’ve got a lot to be grateful for.”

    In our last chat – which was about her last album, Better Than Home - we talked about it being very introspective and even “ministering”.  I asked her how she would describe “Fire On The Floor”?

    “I couldn’t tell you this the last time I talked to you because Michael Stevens – who was one of the producers – didn’t want me to go on and make another record because I wanted to make another record right away. So, this album, Fire On The Floor, has been done way before my last talk with you. So, when I did New York for that week for Better Than Home, as soon as I got home – before Better Than Home was even mixed – I called Ed at the label and I said, ‘You gotta let me make another record right now or I’m probably never going to go back into the studio.’

    “And he’s like, ‘Why? What’s wrong? Is Better Than Home shit?’ and I said, “I don’t know. I think I did a good job with the writing and I know that the producers put everything they could into it. It seemed to go pretty nicely in New York. Who knows? You never know until a record’s mixed. But that’s not why I’m calling you. The reason that I’m calling you is that it was such a painful experience watching Michael be so sick for all that time.’ You know, he ended up dying? And he was only forty-seven when he died. All that time seeing him go through that – that poor man! You know me, I’m overly sensitive anyway. My brain is wired a little funny and I just couldn’t take it. I ended up going to the hospital a couple of times during making that record just to get my shit balanced and it was just rough.

    “So, Ed let me immediately call Oliver (Leiber, the CD’s producer). I called Oliver and Oliver is, like, ‘Come on over to my house.’ I came over to his house and I said, ‘I have a shit load of songs. I don’t want it over produced. I want it to be a live band. That’s all I have to say. I’m going to send you the songs.’ He’s like, ‘****, yeah! I love you! Let’s make this record!’

    “I sent him a ton of songs just like I did Rob and Michael for Better Than Home and he immediately got back to me and said, ‘Boom! I’ve got the players. Come to my house!’ Whenever it was – two more weeks or something.

    “So, we go the whole thing done in, like, three weeks! I went over there and made Fire On The Floorbeth hart mona nordoy 133 in three days and we didn’t have to do any mixing because we hadn’t even finished mixing Better Than Home! So we had all this time to let itsit there and relax and let me focus on what I had to do for Better Than Home. I’m so happy that I got to get this record out of me because I was tripping – tripping out! This was so healing for me. It really helped me get through that.”

    I commented that I could tell that she had reached deep within to write and record Better Than Home to cover negative things for a positive outcome.

    “Thank you for saying that! I agree with you, by the way. You can really hear that difference. Better Than Home was such a vulnerable, confessional album. I gotta give props to Michael Stevens and Ron Mathisbecause, you know I everything in so that passed over a lot of songs that they didn’t feel was going in that direction. So, Better Than Home wasn’t like I wrote that record. I did write the record but I also wrote a shit load of other songs that I turned in but they passed on. It’s funny. It ended up in the right producer’s hands because that’s the kind of record they wanted to make and this was the kind of record that I wanted to make. It ends up working out perfect!”

    Were the songs on Fire On The Floor some of the songs passed on or did she write these songs specifically for the album?

    “Yeah! Just like on Better Than Home a couple of songs on there were passed over by Kevin Shirley when I did Bang Bang Boom Boom with him. For instance, Kevin passed on St. Teresa. He passed on Mama This One’s For You. There was a collection of songs there because I’m always working on stuff. I always turn theminto whatever to whatever ‘priest’ I’m with and I don’t care which songs they choose and which ones they don’t. Because if I didn’t love the songs, I’d never turn them in. I really have this belief that when a producer likes a song or doesn’t like a song, it always boils down to basically the same thing. They either think they can get it or they think they can’t. So I know not to ever take it personal if they don’t like the song – even though they may say, ‘I don’t like the song,’ it’s not really what it is. It’s that they think they can get this one phenomenal and maybe that one they can’t.”

    As for which song she would point to as a drawing card to entice people to purchase the album, Beth said, “Yeah, that’s a great question! It’s hard for me because it is sobroad-based,genre-wise. I love Jazzman very much but I also love Fat Man. Then, I adore No Place Like Home and A Good Day To Cry. But then I turn around and love Woman You’ve Been Dreaming Of. So it would be really hard for me to have one song. But, if someone put a gun to my head and said, ‘Okay, you have to pick one song,’ I would pick Fire On The Floor. That would be the one that I would pick.”

    When asked which song seems to resonate with fans the most, Ms. Hart shared:

    beth hart mona nordoy 4128finalreduced“Good Day To Cry and Fire On The Floor, so far. But, also, all the promoters and the radio people really love Jazzman. But it seems that with the audience, they’re really responding to Jazzman but the most to Fire On The Floor. Definitely number one – and Good Day To Cry.”

    The last time we talked Beth had indicated that she wanted to be on the road a lot less and focus on living healthier. When I asked how that worked out for her, she laughed and said, “It’s so funny. As soon as I put my foot down and said, ‘Okay. Seven months on the road, max, so that I can have more time at home, be a wife to my husband’ – like I told you about the last time we talked – so I can write more and all that. As soon as I laid that boundary, now I want to be on the road more. I can’t keep up with my own ****ing head. I can’t! As soon as I make a decision that I want to do something, my head says, ‘Oh! I want to do something else! I just can’t even keep up with myself! So, it’s so funny. It’s so weird. I’m so weird.”

    With all the people in the music world who died last year, I asked Beth to share her thoughts about those who passed. Her response wasn’t at all what I expected.

    “You know, of course, I’m sad for anyone that’s sad who lost them. But they have moved on to another form. I don’t look at death as a bad thing at all. I look at death as a graduation to another life form. Who knows? Maybe they’re on some other planet living a whole other life? Maybe they’ve come back here in the form of an awesome butterfly or a bee? Who the **** knows? But I do believe that death is just like graduating. You get to graduate to another plain. So, for them, they’re probably having a ball but it’s the people that loses them – those are who are sad.

    “So, of course, I mourn for those that are here who had to lose people that they loved. But, for them, they’re off somewhere else. I think it just continues to get better. I really do. I think that time we get to live, our consciousness grows deeper. Our hearts grow bigger. It has to! We go on to a newplane. That’s what I believe. So, I think of the people who passed away, they’re just happy as shit right now because they’re doing something else.”

    And what is on Beth Hart’s radar for the rest of the year?

    “You know, what I’m really into right now is speaking. I’m having so much fun and so passionate about it. I’m having a lot of ideas with that. I’m putting a lot of effort into that. I’ve really, really been studying a lot with my vocal coach, Bob. I’m with him off and on since I was sixteen. So, I really feel like this past year I’ve grown a lot as a singer. I’m looking forward to doing thatlive and use some of the techniques that he’s taught me. Things just to be stronger and healthier and trying new ways of approaching songs. I’m also really looking forward to us doing more work here in the States, which is really exciting for me. And, then, we’re also going to India for the first time. We’re going to do a couple of shows there so I’m looking forward to that.

    “Then, you know what’s so funny, I’m here at the house. We had a major flood. We have a three story house. On the bottom floor is my studio and that all got flooded out. I’m such an anal person. The most anal person you’ve ever met in your life. It flooded out and I’m like, ‘Oh my god! I can’t take it!’ But, now – because of homeowners insurance – we’re going to get to re-paint it and do new carpet and stuff. That’s just a fun project for me. I’m a woman who really nests in her home.

    “Also, a wall on the side of our house in the backyard – the other person’s studio who’s next door is going to slide into our property so they’re rebuilding the whole wall. We get to plant roses and a tangerine tree! What it represents to me and why I’m bringing it up with you is it just represents to me that every time life – you think; you’re perceiving is, ‘It’s killing me again! A horrible thing has just happened!’ Something amazing is going to come from it. Something better is going to happen because of that horror or that catastrophe or whatever you want to view it as. It’s just another reminder.

    “I know that it seems like a stupid thing to compare a wall in the yard or a flood in the basement but it’s just like another one of those signs. It’s like no matter what goes in your mind quote/unquote wrong, it’s not wrong. It’s a new beginning that’sabout to happen. I love that about life! It’s so neat!”

    After wrapping up my conversation with Beth, I was once again reminded of how we all should embrace life; remind ourselves to tell our loved ones that we love them; to stop and smell theroses and to not let the trials of life hold us back from living and love life to the fullest.

    Thank you, Beth.

  • Better Than Home

         

    Better Than Home
    Beth Hart
    Label: Provogue Records/Mascot Label Group
    Release Date: April 14, 2015
    Review Date: April 12, 2015

     

    Love it/Buy it.

    Yeah, it’s that great.

    Long time Boomerocity readers already know that we’re HUGE Beth Hart fans and have loved this amazing woman’s work from the git go. In fact, it was a very special day when Boomerocity had the privilege of interviewing this incredibly talented artist (here).

    So it shouldn’t come as a surprise that, once again, start a review of Beth Hart work with, “Love it/Buy it.” Her first solo studio album since her 2012 album, “Bang Bang, Boom Boom,” and her in-studio collaboration, “See Saw,” with Joe Bonamassa, is, without a doubt, her best, most introspective and compelling album, yet.

    On this album, Ms. Hart reveals the intimate depths of her personal pain to not only examine them but transform them into something empowering and insightful. As she has shared in various interviews (including the aforementioned Boomeocity interview), Beth has come from intense periods of struggle in her life, from the loss of her sister to AIDS, to drug use and family strife, to an eventual bipolar diagnosis that was both frightening and liberating. 

    All of this has been the catalyst of her great songwriting and is evidenced on “Better Than Home.” Women and men, alike, have been (and will be) inspired and encouraged by her amazing story.

    Boomerocity can’t and won’t pick a favorite song from this album because they’re all great. So here are some thoughts about four randomly selected cuts from this treasure chest of eleven beautifully written songs:

    The title song is a brilliantly written song in which Beth meets her maker and sharing that Heaven is, in fact, better than home.

    “Might As Well Smile” should be required listening for anyone going tough times, reminding us to not to take things too seriously.  

    Hart shows that she gets the temptation of wanting to throw in the towel and let go in her moving, “Tell ‘em To Hold On.”  Those who have felt that lowest of lows senses that Beth knows that feeling all to well but knows that there’s sound reason to not let go.

    “Mechanical Heart” is a powerful love song to Hart’s husband of 15 years, vowing that she will find a way to give him all that he deserves despite her emotional limitations.

    If you can buy only one album this month, “Better Than Home” is THE one to buy and will encourage and bless you for years to come.

    Yeah, it’s that great.

    >center>
  • Don't Explain

    dontexplaincoverDon’t Explain
    Beth Hart and Joe Bonamassa
    Label: J&R Adventures, LLC
    Reviewed: October, 2011

    If I was some sort of quirky scientist fooling around with cloning experiments, I would likely be the type who would mix up various peoples’ DNA to see what I could come up with. However, I’m not (I don’t even play one on TV) but I think someone else is.

    Why, you ask?

    Because I think someone has cloned Janis Joplin, Bonnie Bramlett, Melissa Etheridge and Amy Winehouse into one person and named her “Beth Hart”. I know that I’ve definitely heard her music over the years – I just didn’t know who it was singing. Yeah, I am embarrassed to say that I’ve only now “discovered” her via her collaboration with Joe Bonamassa on their CD, Don’t Explain.

    See, being a Bonamassa fan pays more dividends than just hearing his great music.

    As I said in my review of Joe’s album, Dust Bowl, I learned my lesson about trying to catch a hot CD while it was in-stock in the stores. When I saw this collaboration announced online, I pre-ordered it so that I could be sure to have it while the ink was still drying on the CD cover. Am I ever glad I did.

    I was privileged to indulge myself – uninterrupted - in the great sounds from Don’t Explain during a recent round-trip to California. The album starts out with an incredible cover of the 1957 Ray Charles number, Sinner’s Prayer. Wow! Hart’s interpretation of the tune makes me want to run to the nearest alter every time I hear it. The only negative I can say about this is that the world has definitely been robbed since a duet with Mr. Charles and Ms. Hart singing this song will never happen. Can you imagine what that would be like? Needless to say, Sinner’s Prayer is one of several Boomerocity favorites on this album.

    Another favorite is the treatment of the Bill Withers 1973 tune, For My Friend. While the Withers tune still stands the test of time over the close-to-40 years, I suspect that Beth’s version is one that will also be talked about 40 years from now, it’s that good.

    One tune that should put Hart/Bonamassa into the history books (and is yet another Boomerocity favorite) is their incredible cover of the Etta James song, I’d Rather Go Blind. I have worn this song out. Actually, I’ve worn out the repeat button on my iPod. Rounding out the Boomerocity fave list is their rendition of the Delaney and Bonnie hit, Well Well. I usually don’t take too kindly to folks messin’ with my D&B but, after listening to this cover about a bijillion times, I had to grant special dispensation – ‘specially since both Joe and Beth flawlessly channel the Bramlett’s in their performance.

    While these tunes represent my favorites, let me be clear: The entire album is great. I would go as far as to say that it’s a must-have for lovers of blues, jazz and good ol’ classic rock. It would be a great, early Christmas gift to yourself and for the music lover in your life.

  • Fire On The Floor

    fireonthefloorcoverFire On The Floor
    Beth Hart
    Label: Provogue/Mascot Label Group
    Review Date: August 16, 2016
    Release Date: February 3, 2017

    Beth Hart is on fire. Right now, the Grammy-nominated singer/songwriter is riding a creative tidal wave, firing out acclaimed albums, hooking up with the biggest names in music, and rocking the house each night with her celebrated "burnt-honey" voice. In 2016, the headline news is Beth's latest album, 'Fire On The Floor,' out February 3rd on Provogue/Mascot Label Group - a release that even this fiercely self-critical artist describes as "pretty frickin' good." But let's not forget the backstory that brought her here...

    Blues Magazine once dubbed Beth Hart "the ultimate female rock star," and there's no doubt that her two-decade career has been the ultimate thrill-ride. Born in Los Angeles, she released a fistful of hit albums through the '90s, then reignited in the noughts as both a solo artist and the head-turning vocalist for guitar heroes like Joe Bonamassa, Jeff Beck, Buddy Guy, and Slash. "Extraordinary," wrote The Times of her once-in-a-generation vocals, while The Guardian praised her "daring, brooding and angry" performances.

    But it's in recent years that Beth has truly blossomed. In April 2015, she released 'Better Than Home,' a critical and commercial smash that topped the iTunes Blues Chart and was crowned #4 Best Blues Album Of The Year by Mojo magazine. The release led her to fill Amsterdam's Heineken Music Hall with 5,500 fans (her largest club show to date). "Oh, that was so good, man," she reflects. "I love Holland. They've been really good to me."

    The US has embraced her too, packing ever-larger venues in major cities on the 'Better Than Home' tour - including Nashville's iconic Ryman Auditorium and NYC's Town Hall - and nominating her for the American Blues Foundation's Contemporary Blues Female Artist award. "It's unbelievable," she admits. "This last tour, we were playing much bigger houses than I'd ever played in the States - and they were sold-out."

    Meanwhile, on the other side of the pond, Beth's rocketing UK profile has never been higher. Recent years have seen auspicious headline sets at the Royal Albert Hall and the Barbican (not to mention the historic Hampton Court Palace with Joe Bonamassa), and in December 2015, she chalked up another first with a spot on Jools Holland's legendary annual Hootenanny. Bringing in the New Year with a soulful take on "Tell Her You Belong To Me" and "Nutbush City Limits" alongside long-time collaborator Jeff Beck, it spoke volumes that the pair's performance rapidly became the Hootenanny's most-watched clip on the BBC's official YouTube channel (even overtaking heavyweights like Tom Jones and Paul Weller). "Every time Jeff performs, he just kills it," gushes Beth, who will join the veteran guitarist for her first-ever appearance at the Hollywood Bowl this year. "To me, he's the greatest ever."

    Just as memorable, last December was Beth's first solo gig at London's Union Chapel (subsequently voted by fans as the venue's gig of the year). "It was the most terrifying experience of my entire life," she admits. "I got up there and I was so frickin' scared. But then, halfway through the show, I just started to enjoy it. By the end, I felt so connected to the audience, and I really felt like they did that show with me. It was like we were all the band."

    'Fire On The Floor' is sure to build on her breakneck momentum. As the singer explains, this latest record gave her an emotional release following the bitter-sweet sessions for 'Better Than Home.' If there's a theme that ties the twelve songs together, it's a sense of escapism following the hardest of times. "We were still in the mixing stages for that album and I knew I had to make another record. Making 'Better Than Home' was so painful, because one of the producers, Michael Stevens, was dying of cancer. It was a very emotional record to write and to make. I wanted the songs for 'Fire On The Floor' to get born real quick."

    Beth's first call was to the acclaimed producer Oliver Leiber, who scheduled a session at his home studio in Toluca Lake and drafted an incredible studio band that included Michael Landau (guitar), Waddy Wachtel (guitar), Brian Allen (bass), Rick Marotta (drums), Jim Cox (piano), Dean Parks (acoustic guitar) and Ivan Neville (B3 and organ). "Oliver rounded up some amazing musicians," Beth reflects. "Michael Landau and Waddy Wachtel are legends, so when I found out we had them, I just couldn't believe it. If you don't have great musicians, you're not gonna have a very good record, are you? We recorded sixteen songs in three days," continues Beth of the quickfire LA sessions, "but then we spent a long time mixing. Oliver is a brutally hard-working person, but he's also incredibly sensitive and that combination works so great. He's strong and focused, but still so vulnerable, and his heart is wide open. I'm so proud of what he did on this record."

    Take a spin of 'Fire On The Floor' and you'll see exactly why. These twelve new songs run the gamut of genre, reflecting Beth's eclectic teenage influences, which took in everything from gospel, soul and classical to the seismic rock of Soundgarden. "As a writer," she nods, "I feel really stifled if I'm trying to write in the same style. I just can't do that. Growing up as a kid, I was raised all over the place stylistically, loving so many different genres."

    As such, you'll find everything from the spring-heeled soul of "Let's Get Together" to the brittle rock of "Fat Man." "I love that song," she says of the latter. "That's actually a co-write with a wonderful songwriter named Glen Burtnik, who I started writing with when I was about 24. We wrote that seven years ago - just a basic skeleton - but then I got super-inspired and wrote out the lyric. It feels good to sing it. That's what's so great about rock 'n' roll. It's just such a fantastic way to let out your angst."

    Likewise, the title track: "I love 'Fire On The Floor.' It's just smouldering. I think it's gonna be a fantastic piece to perform live. It's filled with passion. It's about when someone you know is so bad for you, but you can't help it. Then there's "No Place Like Home." I love that song. It's about how, like, you spend a lot of time on the road, and you start to realize all the great things about being home. Kinda the opposite to the song 'Better Than Home.'" Other upbeat highlights include the salsa-tinged "Baby Shot Me Down" and the jazz-inflected "Coca Cola," with a vocal that reminds you why Beth was recently voted as the 20th best blues singer of all-time in The Blues. "Vocally, that one takes me back to a Billie Holiday kinda singing," she reflects. "I love that kind of vibe, like a light, fun sexiness."

    By contrast, there are some songs that Beth had to wrench from the emotional depths. "'Picture In A Frame' is a big one for me," she says. "When I started writing it, I was thinking about being in love with my husband. But when I was done, I could see that I really connected it with Michael Stevens, and it was my way of saying to him, y'know, 'I just want you to be better.'" Despite all the emotionally bare moments, for Beth, this record represents a catharsis. "I think 'Better Than Home' is one of the best records I've ever done," she says, "but it was a brutal experience. 'Fire On The Floor' has more energy and I think, overall, it's just got more balls. And I think I really needed that, just to balance out that heavier mood on 'Better Than Home.'"

    'Fire On The Floor' is the album that Beth Hart needed to make. Likewise, it's a record that you need to hear. "I'm so pleased with it," she concludes. "I recently had to organise the sequence of the record, and while I was doing that, I was thinking to myself, 'Y'know, this is pretty frickin' good...!'"


    Beth Hart Online:
    www.facebook.com/officialbethhart 
    www.twitter.com/BethHart 
    www.instagram.com/officialbethhart 
    www.bethhart.com 

    Tracklist:
    1. Jazzman
    2. Love Gangster
    3. Coca-Cola
    4. Let's Get Together
    5. Love Is A Lie
    6. Fat Man
    7. Fire On The Floor
    8. Woman You've Been Dreaming Of
    9. Baby Shot Me Down
    10. Good Day To Cry
    11. Picture In A Frame
    12. No Place Like Home
    13. Come Undone (Bonus Track)
    14. Dear John (Bonus Track)
    15. I Screwed Up (Bonus Track)

    Tour Dates:
    August 3rd, 2016 - Belly Up - Solana Beach, CA
    August 5th, 2016 - Mammoth Festival - Mammoth, CA
    August 10th, 2016 - Hollywood Bowl - Los Angeles, CA
    September 7th, 2016 - Canyon Club - Agoura Hills, CA
    September 9th, 2016 - Big Blues Bender Plaza Hotel & Casino - Las Vegas, NV
    September 10th, 2016 - Livewire - Scottsdale, AZ
    September 13th, 2016 - Brady Theater - Tulsa, OK
    September 14th, 2016 - Uptown Theatre - Kansas City, MO
    September 17th, 2016 - The Pageant - St. Louis, MO
    September 18th, 2016 - Turner Ballroom - Milwaukee, WI
    September 21st, 2016 - Park West - Chicago, IL
    September 22nd, 2016 - Park West - Chicago, IL
    November 9th, 2016 - Lichtburg - Essen, Germany
    November 11th, 2016 - Symphony Hall - Birmingham, UK
    November 13th, 2016 - The Sage - Gateshead, UK
    November 14th, 2016 - 02 Academy, Glasgow, UK
    November 17th, 2016 - Colton Hall - Bristol, UK
    November 19th, 2016 - Bournemouth BIC Solent Hall - Dorset, UK
    November 21st, 2016 - Bridgewater Hall - Manchester, UK
    November 23rd, 2016 - Royal Festival Hall - London, UK
    November 26th, 2016 - Heineken Music Hall - Amsterdam-Zuidoost, Netherlands
    November 28th, 2016 - Ancienne Belgique - Brussels, Belgium
    November 30th, 2016 - Splendid - Lille, France
    December 2nd, 2016 - La Traverse - Cleon, France
    December 3rd, 2016 - Theatre Femina - Bordeaux, France
    December 5th, 2016 - La Cooperative De Mai - Clermont-Ferrand, France
    December 7th, 2016 - Le Pasino - Aix-En-Provence, France
    December 8th, 2016 - Salle De L'Etoile - Chateaurenard, France
    December 10th, 2016 - Le Plan - Ris Orangis, France
    December 13th, 2016 - Olympia - Paris, France
    December 15th, 2016 - Megarama - Casablanca, Morocco
    February 6th, 2017 - Keeping The Blues Alive At Sea III - Tampa, Florida
    May 12th, 2017 - Haus Auersee - Leipzig, Germany
    May 14th, 2017 - Colombiahall - Berlin, Germany
    May 16th, 2017 - Laeiszhalle - Hamburg, Germany
    May 18th, 2017 - Theater Am Aegi - Hannover, Germany
    May 20th, 2017 - Kurhaus - Baden-Baden, Germany
    May 22nd, 2017 - Capitol - Offenbach Am Main, Germany
    May 24th, 2017 - Historische Stadthall - Wuppertal, Germany
    May 29th, 2017 - Circus Krone - Munich, Germany

  • Joe Bonamassa

    Posted October, 2015

     

    Photo by JamesPattersonsGallery.com

         

    Several years ago, a friend of mine gave me a large stack of CDs. The collection consisted of a variety of different bands and artists from all sorts of genres. I can’t tell you who all but one of the artists were in that stack because only one person I had never heard of actually commanded my attention: Joe Bonamassa.

    The albums were two studio discs and a live one (Black Rock, The Ballad of John Henry and Live From Nowhere In Particular, respectively). What I heard was a young man who played rock, rhythm and blues with a fervor, passion and intensity that I had heard in, well, never. 

    I became an immediate fan, acquiring all of his work that I could lay my hands on and reviewing his new releases on Boomerocity, starting with Dust Bowl and pretty much everything he’s released since. 

    The same buddy who introduced me to Bonamassa’s work joined me in Dallas in 2012 to catch his show at the Music Hall At Fair Park. As amazing as his concert DVDs are, to see him perform in person is even more incredible. Since that show, I have seen him twice in 2014 and hope to see him many more times in the future. 

    Joe has been called a guitar prodigy by many. He opened for B.B. King when he was only twelve years old. He’s played – and is playing – some of the most prestigious venues in the world including the Royal Albert Hall, the Vienna Opera House, and the Beacon Theater, to name a mere few. He’s produced fifteen albums – all on his own label, J&R Adventures, and all in the last thirteen years. 

    Of course, since becoming a fan, I lobbied for an interview. Persistently. For years. 

    Recently, persistence paid off and the interview gods heard my effectual, fervent prayers and allowed my first interview with the guitar maestro to happen.

    Joe called me from the road. Actually, he called about an hour before hitting the stage at the USANA Ampitheatre in Salt Lake City as he was wrapping up the last few dates of his “Three Kings” tour. I asked about that tour and the tour that he’ll begin next month that will include shows close to yours truly.

    “The Three Kings Tour ends August 29th. The Three Kings Tour was only twelve shows. The show that’s

         

     

    Photo by Christie Goodwin

    going to be happening in November is going to be a hybrid. I’m actually going to be playing my material. It’ll be horns and a different configuration of the band. There’ll probably be a few tunes that will carry over from the Three Kings but it’s not a tribute to the Three Kings. We’re almost wrapped up with it. 

    “The show in November will be promoting more like some of the stuff off of the new album; some of the stuff from this tour; some of the stuff from the Muddy Wolf CD; some of the back catalog. It’s going to be more of a soup to nuts gig.”

    Bonamassa has always surrounded himself with musicians who are as excellent in their craft as he is at his. In answer to the question about who his band line-up for the upcoming tour will be, he said:

    “It’s a completely different line up. Anton Fig’s playing drums. Michael Rhodes on bass. Reese Wynans’s on keyboards. Lee Thornburg, Paulie Cerra are in the horn section. Depending on the material we choose, there may be a couple of other players. We haven’t really put together the line up, yet, but it’s going to be close to that.”

    As for what Joe hopes fans take away from this tour, he said that:

    “Every time you go on a different tour, different show, obviously, you want people to go, “That was the best show I’ve ever seen you do.” That’s the goal. This show, like last year, we were doing a hybrid; a forty-five minute acoustic show and then we did the electric show. This fall will be mostly electric. It will be all electric. It’s going to be more of a thing where – I haven’t even put the show together so it’s hard for me to talk about it.” 

    Joe’s last CD, “Muddy Wolf at the Red Rocks”,  is especially fascinating especially. In addition to him paying moving homage to Muddy Waters and Howlin’ Wolf, there’s a DVD that shows him and legendary producer, Kevin Shirley, taking a road trip to the crossroads (both of them) that factors in to so much blues lore. I asked if more projects like that one are in the works.

    “The Three Kings is an obvious extension of where we were. But we didn’t take a road trip this year. It was a lot of fun to go to the crossroads, though. It was a lot of fun.”

    Bonamassa is doing a lot to promote music education in the schools – especially the blues - with his “Keeping The Blues Alive” foundation. I asked him why does he think it’s so important to promote the blues as he does.

    “At the end of the day, how else are the kids going to be hip to what’s going on? I used to do blues in the schools all the time. It was something that, for me, was part of my day. I mean, now that my days are pretty hectic, I can’t do it any more. It’s really important to keep the music going for another generation. Continuing to champion it one thousand percent. You know, sometimes it feels like a thankless kind of job but it really does pay dividends if you can take the time.”

    Photo by JamesPattersonsGallery.com

         

    As a gifted “musician’s musician”, Bonamassa seems to always have some sort of project going on. When he doesn’t, he’s pulled in to work on someone else’s. One such project is one headed up by one of Joe’s main go-to drummers, Tal Bergman. The band just released a CD/DVD combo which absolutely incredible.  I asked Joe about it.  

    “Well, that one is definitely more produced. It’s less ‘jam.’ It’s more ‘song.’ It’s very concise. We have Randy Brecker on there. Billy Gibbons makes a couple of cameos. It was a fun record to make and, also, a fun record to record. It’s a great side project for me. It’s a great experience to be with those master musicians. I’m just a member of the band. It’s not my group at all. I’m just a member.” 

    As for tour plans to support it, Joe said:

    “No. No. I mean, we play the Baked Potato. Ha! Ha! It’s not about touring. This is a fun project. We took the gig to New York to record the DVD a couple of years ago. That was fun. When you’re in a jazz band and you want to record, you’re on a jazz budget. It is what it is. At the end of it all, it becomes more of a situation where it’s really just a labor of love for us.”

    Among the international readership of Boomerocity, there are a lot of musicians who would love this piece to be all about gear and technique. Those conversations are better left to the gear related magazines. However, I did ask him if there was a guitar that he considers the “holy grail” and, if so, does he own it.  

    “The holy grail is whatever you deem. To some people, it’s ’59 Les Paul. To some people, it’s a ’52 Telecaster. To some people, it’s an ’82 Charpel that looks like

         

    Photo by Christie Goodwin

    Eddie Van Halen’s guitar. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. 

    “As far a celebrity guitars, as for as ‘formerly owned” guitars, I don’t get into that. I collect really nice examples of 50’s and early 60’s Fender/Gibson stuff without celebrity association. If I bought Eric Clapton’s guitar, I’m not going to make me play like Eric Clapton. It really isn’t. You’ve got to play what’s within yourself. A guitar is a guitar.” 

    Another talent who Bonamassa has been associated with – in fact, he introduced her to his fan base, elevating her popularity to a whole new level – is the lovely and talented, Beth Hart. Having an interview with her in the near future, I asked Joe what he thought about her.

    “I think Beth Hart is probably the most naturally talented singer and musician that I’ve ever been on stage with. She has such a wonderful sense of timing and phasing, vocally, and has an infinite capability, vocally. She commands attention.

    “There’s some people who can really sing. They stand up there and sing. She stomps up there and she takes control of the stage. You can’t teach that kind of stage power and that presence. She’s a very, very, very special individual and I’m very proud of the records that I’ve made with her.”

    Photo by Marty Moffatt

         

    As for future work with her, Joe shared:

    “She’s going to be on my cruise this year. That’ll be fun. As far as making another record, I have no idea.”

    Joe Bonamassa can arguably be viewed as a workaholic. He’s almost always on the road or in the recording studio and his output of work reflects it. His work ethic is unmatched, his volume of work prolific and the quality of it is flawless. Does he worry about being able to keep things fresh?

    “You try to keep everything in perspective. You try to keep everything separated and you try to keep everything in a sense that you can, basically, manage it. Do it well. The whole work ethic thing doesn’t work if you can’t do any of it well or if you burn out.”

    What’s next for Joe Bonamassa in the next year and the next five years?

    “I have no idea. Ha! Ha! The next year? I have a new album coming out in June next year that I just finished. We have tour dates up into 2017. I’ll be playing Carnegie Hall next winter. Next five years? Don’t even ask. I have no idea.”

    Wrapping up our chat, I asked Joe a question I ask many artists who have been around quite awhile or have a large body of work as he does: When you’ve stepped off the tour bus of life up at the great gig in the sky (to borrow from the Pink Floyd tune), what do you hope your legacy is and how do you want to be remembered?

    “To be honest with you, there are a lot of people that I see fight to try to get their faces chiseled into the great Mount Rushmore in the sky as far as rock and roll is concerned. As long as I have a positive impact on music inspire a few kids to play the guitar, I’m good. I’m good. You always play your last gig like it could be your last. One day, you’re going to be correct.”

    His last two sentences to me summed up his passion:

    “I didn’t get into this to get inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. I didn’t get into this to make the part – to make the team. To me, I just like to play the guitar.” 

  • Joe Bonamassa - Chattanooga, TN - 2014

    Joe Bonamassa In Concert
    Show Date: December 9, 2014
    Venue: Chattanooga, Tennessee

    Photo by http://www.jamespattersonsgallery.com

         

    Who says that lightning doesn’t strike twice in the same spot?  For me, the lightning of a Joe Bonamassa concert struck me twice this year. The first time taking place back in April in Lexington, Kentucky, and the second time was the night of December 9th at the Memorial Auditorium in Chattanooga, Tennessee.

    That Bonamassa bolt of musical lightning put on an absolutely amazing show.
    Starting precisely at eight o’clock, Bonamassa and his band delighted the enthusiastic tri-state crowd with an eight song acoustic set. With a stompin’ rendition of “Dust Bowl,” Joe glided into “Jelly Roll,” “Different Shades of Blue” (from his new CD of the same name), “Black Lung Heartache,” “Happier Times,” “Jockey Full of Bourbon,” “Dislocated Boy,” and “Athens to Athens.” 

    Each and every song was brilliantly performed. The band was tight as tight can be. Joe’s riffs were precise and flawless. While I absolutely love Joe’s electric part of his shows, I could’ve also listened to the acoustic version all night long.

    After precisely fifteen minutes of intermission time, Joe and the band hit the stage performing the first to cuts from “Different Shades of Blue,” (“Hey Baby” and “Oh Beautiful”) before seguing into “Hidden Charms.”

    Joe then invited fellow blues man, J. D. Simo to the stage to play along on “Double Trouble” and “Gave Up Everything For You.”  All I can say is, “Wow! Wow! Wow!”  These guys tore it up!  Thank you, Joe, for turning me on to Simo!

    Bonamassa closed the show out with “Love Ain’t A Love Song,” “Sloe Gin,” and “Ballad of John Henry” with the encore being, “Django” and “Mountain Time” (a personal favorite of mine).

    If you haven’t ever seen Joe Bonamassa live in concert, you’re really missing out on an incredible treat. Check out his DVD’s or look him up on YouTube. He’s definitely on my short list of all time favorites.

  • Joe Bonamassa - Knoxville, TN - 2015

    Joe Bonamassa In Concert

    Show Date: November 14, 2015

    Venue: Knoxville, Tennessee, Civic Auditorium and Coliseum

     

    Photo by Randy Patterson

         

    Long-time Boomerocity readers know that Boomerocity is a HUGE fan of Joe Bonamassa and have been following him for years. So, it should come as absolutely no surprise to you that our opinion of last night’s show at Knoxville’s Civic Auditorium is that it was, once again, fan-freakin’-tastic!

    The precisely two hour long show was full of fan favorites as well as reaching deep into his broad and rich catalog of tunes from the entire span of his career.  These included JB standards like Sloe Gin to newer releases like Oh Beautiful and all sorts of musical gems in between.

    One thing I’d like to point out, however, is how Joe treats is fans. I had the privilege of being part of a “meet and greet” prior to the show. There were approximately 30 – 35 of us gathered to meet the man. I listened as he personally and individually greeted each of us as we waited our turn to chat with him and have our picture taken with him.

    He was gracious and talkative to everyone one of us who were there to meet him. The function was superbly organized and allowed Joe the opportunity to chat with each of us as we met him. Never once did I see him act like he was annoyed to meet with his fans or sign autographs for us. Bonamassa is a class act all the way.

    If you’ve never seen Joe Bonamassa in concert, you’re really missing out on one of the best shows you’re likely to ever see. Check out JoeBonamassa.com to see when he’ll be performing in a town near you.

  • Joe Bonamassa In Concert - Lexington, Kentucky

    Joe Bonamassa In Concert
    Show Date: April 25, 2014
    Venue: Rupp Arena, Lexington, Kentucky

    Photo by Randy Patterson

    Regular readers of Boomerocity are well aware that I am a dedicated, die-hard Joe Bonamassa fan.  So, as I’ve said in past concert, CD and DVD reviews, it will come as absolutely no surprise that I will rave about JB’s show at the Rupp Arena in Lexington, Kentucky.

    The show started precisely on time (as is typical with Bonamassa) and with what has become a regular feature at Bonamassa concerts: an amazing eight song acoustic set that started with Palm Trees. After each song, Joe would switch (in sequential order) to the next of eight guitars in a semi-circle behind him.
     
    As the band joined him, I immediately noticed that the keyboard player wasn’t Joe’s usual Rick Melick.  It was some bearded dude and I wandered if Joe reached into the disbanded Black Country Communion and pulled Derek Sherinian into commission (and whom I’ve had the privilege of interviewing). Imagine my pleasant surprise to hear his name called out when Joe introduced the acoustic band. Along with Derek was Lenny Castro, Mats Wester and Gerry O’Conner.

    Back to the acoustic set.

    By far my most favorite tunes from the acoustic set were Happier Times (complete with Sherinian’s brief journey into some No Quarter), Dislocated Boy (probably the best tune from the set) and Ball Peen Hammer.

    There was a fifteen minute intermission after the set during which time a spotted some empty seats a tad closer to the stage and I nonchalantly availed myself to one of them.

    The “electric” set began with the stompin’ Dust Bowl and was joined by regular drummer, Tal Bergman and bassist, Carmine Rojas, with Sherinian and Castro sticking around to round out the group.  The band blasted on from there with such staples and crowd favorites as Slow Train, Sloe Gin, and John Henry, among others.  The rock rolled and the blues was played as if Bonamassa was chased by the hounds of Hell.  At the end, the crowd roared for more and Joe obliged with a moving delivery of Django/Mountain Time.

    If you’ve never attended a Bonamassa concert, you’re missing out on a real treat and some of the best guitar work you’ll ever hear. Joe’s a consummate profession who over delivers to his fans. In the case of the Lexington, he delivered two and a half hours of phenomenal performances of great, memorable music.

  • Seesaw

     

         

    Seesaw
    Artists: Beth Hart and Joe Bonamassa
    Label: J&R Adventures
    Released: May 21, 2013
    Reviewed: May 19, 2013

    Love it/buy it. 

    That should be enough of a review – especially for you regular Boomerocity readers.  However, I know there’s a bunch of you who are new to Boomerocity so I’ll give you more meat to chew on regarding the latest duet project by the perennially beautiful and talented Beth Hart and THE blues man of the new millennium, Joe Bonamassa.

    First of all, it goes without saying that Boomerocity is a huge fan of both Beth Hart and Joe Bonamassa.  Neither can do no wrong in its humble opinion.  That said, Seesaw is over-the-top excellent.  Beth’s vocals throughout the entire album solidifies her place in music history as a voice and performer right up there in the ranks of Billie Holiday, Etta James, Tina Turner and Janis Joplin.  Yes, seriously.

    As was the case with their debut duet album, Don’t Explain, this project is full of delicious covers of some great music by some of music’s greatest voices.  Produced by the brilliant Kevin Shirley (who has also produced projects by Led Zeppelin, Black Crowes as well as Bonamassa’s solo work), Seesaw is an audio treasure chest that pays due respect to these great tunes.

    The whole album is great.  However, Boomerocity will highlight three randomly chosen jewels.

    Natbush City Limits  If anyone can deliver the tune to anywhere near the level of the divine Ms. Turner, it’s the equally divine Ms. Hart.  Bonamassa’s guitar work is off-the-charts excellent and will go down as being equally iconic and memorable as Ike’s.

    By far THE Boomerocity favorite on this album is the great Donnie Hathaway tune, I Love You More Than You’ll Ever Know.  Beth’s performance will send chills up and down the listener’s spine and Joe’s guitar work takes them straight to the crossroads.  This tune earns infinite slaps of the repeat button until it’s plumb wore out.  Yeah, it’s that great!

    The eerily ethereal Strange Fruit demonstrates Hart’s ability to project passion into songs about subjects that haven’t directly impacted but that she can readily empathize with.  This song originally recorded by Nina Simone about racism.  I believe that Ms. Simone is smiling on Beth from above for how she covered this great tune.

    Buy Seesaw immediately. In fact, buy an extra copy or two for your friends who love this kind of music but who aren’t aware of Beth Hart or Joe Bonamassa. They’ll love you forever for turning them on to these two great artists.

     

Featured Photo

 

 

george lynch

Our Featured Photo by Boomerocity friend and famed rock photographer, Rob Shanahan (robshanahan.com), is of Dokken's George Lynch! Check out more of Rob's work at RobShanahan.com!

 

 

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