• 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 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!

  • Posted February 2018

    mona nordoy beth hart 0379 croppedPhoto by Mona NordoyIf you’ve been a reader and follower of Boomerocity for any time at all, you already know that we’re huge fans of the lovely and talented Beth Hart. We were introduced to her by way of her duet album with blues great, Joe Bonamassa. After passing the litmus test of successfully daring to cover Etta James’ “I’d Rather Go Blind” (and we warn people, “Don’t be messin’ with our Etta James’ work, now!). Blowing us away, we’ve become steadfast fans of this remarkable artist. So much so, this piece marks the unprecedented FOURTH interview with her (here, here, and here, being the first three).

    I called Beth up at her SoCal home. After we compared notes about my weather in Eastern Tennessee and her weather in L.A, we started catching up on news since we had talked earlier in 2017. When I asked how the then recent fires had affected her and her husband, she said, “It didn’t really mess with us here too bad. I mean, it’s just really sad to see you know? But I do know a few people who almost lost their homes but they didn’t. And it’s still going!

    Continuing, she added, “There were only about two days that it got kinda smoky where we are. We could smell it. But the winds have been so high, it just blows it right out.”

    During our last conversation, Beth shared with me about the home renovation she and her husband, Scott, were undergoing due to some flooding so I asked her how that all turned out.

    “My manager told me - because he had had a flood at his house – he said, ‘You wait and see. It’s going to be so much better when they fix it. You’re gonna like it better – what happens to it after than what it was before.’ And it’s so true because they repainted everything and built some shelves and they, obviously, had to rebuild the walls and stuff like that. Now, it’s ten times nicer now than what it was before the flood. So, it was a blessing! Thanks for asking about that! I was freaking out about that, wasn’t I?”

    Our last chat focused on her then-new-CD, Fire On The Floor, so I was curious as to how it had been doing for her and what fan and crowd reaction had been.

    EverythingKnoxvilleLogoEdited“Oh, Fire On The Floor?  Well, you know? People really seem to love that record when we play it live. I mean, we don’t play all the songs from it every night. We play different songs from the record at

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