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  • 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 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

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  • bluesheartattackcoverBlues Heart Attack
    Jeremiah Johnson
    Label: Connor Ray Music
    Release Date: July 22, 2016
    Review Date: August 21, 2016

    Connor Ray Music announces a July 22 release date for Blues Heart Attack, the new CD from St. Louis-based blues/rock guitarist Jeremiah Johnson and his band. The even-dozen all-original tracks on Blues Heart Attack were produced by Jason McIntire and the Jeremiah Johnson Band and recorded/mixed at Sawhorse Studio in St Louis.

    Besides Jeremiah Johnson (guitar and lead vocals), the members of the group are Jeff Girardier (bass guitar and backing vocals) and Benet Schaeffer (drums); with special guests Nathen Hershey (Hammond B3, Wurlitzer and piano), Frank Bauer (sax and backing vocals) and Tom “Papa” Ray (harmonica).

    “I really wanted Blues Heart Attack to be a roller coaster of emotions that reflect the life, heart and soul of a blue-collar blues man,” Johnson says about the new disc. “With songs that I started writing over 10 years ago and others that were basically born in the recording studio, I truly feel this record closely represents my band past, present and future. With the addition of the sax, keys and harmonica I believe we have created memorable music people will feel in their soul and tap their feet.”

    Jeremiah Johnson’s last album for Connor Ray Music, Grind, released in 2014 and produced by Devon Allman, included the song “Black Lingerie,” which was just recognized as the Best Blues Rock Song of the Year at the Independent Blues Music Awards show. Grind also featured Grammy Award-winner Yonrico Scott on drums from Royal Southern Brotherhood, and reached the #8 slot on the Billboard Blues Chart.

    Born and raised in St. Louis, Jeremiah Johnson is the voice of Mississippi River blues blending with the struggles of everyday life. And yes, he IS named for the title character portrayed by Robert Redford in his landmark 1972 western film. Jeremiah began learning guitar at age 6, drawing inspiration from his rich St. Louis blues heritage and legendary guitarists like Alvin Lee, Eric Clapton and Hank Williams, Jr. With these influences, Johnson began building his musical foundation.

    After relocating to Houston, Texas, in 1999, Johnson finished in first place for three consecutive years at the Houston Regional Blues Challenges, sponsored by the Houston Blues Society. During his 10 years there, Johnson merged a Texas style with St. Louis blues to create the unique sound he showcases today.

    In 2011, Johnson was the proud winner of the St. Louis Blues Society International Blues Challenge and went on to the semifinals to represent the city in Memphis. One year later, Sirius XM’s Bluesville channel picked up the Jeremiah Johnson Band CD for major airplay, as did numerous radio stations across the country. With five previous albums under their collective belts, the Jeremiah Johnson Band continues to tour around the country turning fans onto their kickin’ blues/rock sound.

    In 2014, Johnson shot his documentary concert film, Ride the Blues, directed by Australian producer/director Gary Glenn, at the historic Capitol Theater in downtown Burlington, Iowa. The film was a live music portrait of Johnson’s rise to prominence, featuring intimate interview segments, still photography, guitar solos and stunning vocals. Donations from concert attendees were given to the theater and to the St. Louis-based National Blues Museum, connecting Johnson’s roles of musician and music advocate.

    The Jeremiah Johnson Band will support the release of Blues Heart Attack with several shows in the St. Louis area, as well as touring around the rest of the country during the summer and fall at a series of concert venues and music festivals.

    Jeremiah is an endorsed artist for Delaney Guitars, designed by Mike Delaney, who makes custom electric guitars manufactured in Austin, Texas. He currently has four Delaney guitars and uses them at every show, because as Jeremiah says, “they are simply bad ass guitars!”

  • bluesofdesperationJoe Bonamassa
    Label: J&R Adventures
    Released: March 25, 2016

    Love it. Buy it. (The standard short version of any Boomerocity review of Bonamassa releases).

    If you’re a Joe Bonamassa fan, you’re going to love his latest release of all new, original material on the CD, “Blues of Desperation”. Raw. Gritty. Moving. It all reflects yet another visit by Bonamassa to the fabled crossroads . . . with the hounds of Hell nipping at his heels.

    The whole darn album is phenomenal so, as usual, we can pick real “favorites” so I’ll randomly pick three tunes to highlight.

    Mountain Climbing: This stomper demands that you hit the repeat button continuously. The hard driving sound of this tune will embed itself into your audio DNA and never let go.

    How Deep The River Runs: Dark. Moody. Very Clapton-esque. Love it.

    What I’ve Known For A Very Long Time: Me thinks JB is channeling B.B. King on this one. Yeah, it’s that good.

    Buy the album, folks. It’s some of Bonamassa’s best work, yet!


  • Different Shades of Blue
    Joe Bonamassa
    Label: J&R Enterprises
    Release Date: September 23, 2014
    Review Date: September 21, 2014

    The short version of this review (as with the past reviews of Bonamassa projects): Love it/Buy it.

    Now, for the meat and potatoes of this disc.

    “Different Shades of Blue” is Joe Bonamassa’s first studio in two years. Not only that, it’s his first ever offering of all original music and, boy, has he ever done a phenomenal job. Bonamassa says of the effort, “It’s been a while since I’ve been involved in the writing on an entire album. So I decided I wanted to make a completely original blues album. I’ve really had to push myself to make everything I do better than the last project. I know the fans expect it. And I feel like I owe it to the fans to give them an original record after all these years.”

    The music making monster didn’t release any new studio projects in order to work with some great Nashville area songwriter – greats like Journey’s Jonathan Cain, Jerry Flowers (Keith Urban, Lady A, Carrie Underwood) and James House (Martina McBride, Diamond Rio and Dwight Yoakam).

    “The writers really inspired me, and having access to really great lyricists and songwriters made it such a great experience,” said Bonamassa.

     As was the case of Joe’s last fifteen albums (if you include his work with the incredibly talented Beth Hart and his Black Country Communion work), Kevin Shirley did a brilliant job producing “Different Shades Of Blue”.  Shirley said of the album, “It’s definitely my favorite Joe Bonamassa record to date.”
    Boomerocity has to agree.

    The eleven cut album opens with the only deviation from all original material: A tip of the six-string hat by playing an amazing eighty second treatment of Hendrix’s “Hey Baby (New Rising Sun)” as a brilliant entre into “Oh Beautiful!,” (THE Boomerocity favorite) written by Bonamassa and  James House (Martina McBride, Diamond Rio, Dwight Yoakum). Joe’s playing sounding as if the hounds of hell are nipping at his heels and the dust from the crossroads whirling around him. From there, the listener better hold on to their hat.

    The second Boomerocity favorite is “Never Give All Your Heart” (co-written with Jonathan Cain). With flavors of Bad Company (and reminiscent of Joe’s “Driving Toward Daylight) and screaming guitar work by Joe, this tune also earned uncountable slaps of the repeat button.

    The third Boomerocity favorite is the one song solely written by Bonamassa: “So What Would I Do.” This soulful love song explores the complex and often painful aspects of a relationship between an often absent man and his lady. Joe’s riffs ooze loneliness and frustration, giving the listener just an inkling of what it’s like to be in his. Reese Wynans’ tickling of the ivories sounded so much like Chuck Leavell that I had to look to make sure I hadn’t missed his mention in the album notes.

    Each and every cut of “Different Shades Of Blue” is worth the price of the whole disc. Bonamassa fans will, of course, buy it because they know that they won’t be disappointed. They’ll also point to it as a great introduction of him to their friends, making new fans out of them.

    Keep up with the latest in Joe Bonamassa’s world and see if he’s coming to your town by signing up to his newletter at

  • 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.

  • ejcoverEJ
    Eric Johnson
    Label: Provogue
    Release Date: October 7, 2016
    Review Date: August 24, 2016

    Thirty years after his breakthrough solo release 'Tones' brought him national recognition, Texas guitar legend Eric Johnson is releasing his first all-acoustic album on October 7th via Provogue. Showcasing nine original compositions and four covers, 'EJ' is easily Johnson's most intimate album to date.

    "Ever since I was young, I've played piano and acoustic guitar in my private life," Johnson says. "This type of music has always been a part of me, but I never showcased it on any kind of bigger level, like a full acoustic record. With EJ, I just decided to be more honest with myself and everybody, and show more of my personal side." EJ brings listeners as close as possible to hearing Johnson in his own living room, performing songs on piano and steel-string and nylon-string acoustic guitars.

    Johnson, long known for his painstaking approach to making records, used a much more immediate approach for the self-produced EJ. "Almost all of that material was cut live," Johnson explains. "Some of the songs I actually sang and played at the same time - just live in the studio. Recording this way gave it more of an honest realism and organic emotion. Especially on the acoustic, you just have to get in there and play."

    On the original compositions "Wonder," "Fatherly Downs," and "All Things You Are," Johnson frames his voice with his prized 1980 Martin D-45, a gift from his late father. He plays the steel-string on his superlative instrumentals "Once Upon a Time in Texas," "All Things You Are," and "Song for Irene." He conjures the beautiful, pensive tones of "Serinidad," another original instrumental, on a Ramirez nylon-string guitar. A spirited steel-string arrangement of Simon and Garfunkel's "Mrs. Robinson" rounds out the solo guitar tracks.

    Johnson recasts another Simon and Garfunkel favorite, "Scarborough Fair," for voice and piano, and plays piano on the originals "Water Under the Bridge," "November," and "Wrapped in a Cloud," an ensemble track with acoustic bass, cello, drums, and percussion. In a move that's sure to surprise his fans, Johnson rearranged Jimi Hendrix' "One Rainy Wish" for guitar and piano, capping the performance with a jazz-inflected piano solo. Rounding out the record is Johnson and guest guitarist Doyle Dykes' superlative cover of Les Paul and Mary Ford's 1951 classic, "The World Is Waiting for the Sunshine."

    Throughout his career, Johnson has approached music as a healing force, a way to enhance a listener's consciousness and conjure joy and inspiration. "That's what I've always appreciated most about other artists," he says. "Some artists inspire us to wake up and get back to the clarity of consciousness. With this record, I'm trying to do that too, because I appreciate it so much in other people."

    In support of EJ's October 2016 release, Johnson will embark on a series of U.S. tours that will bring him to about 60 cities nationwide. Stay tuned for dates and details.

  • Posted February 2017 

    glennbackcoversingle copyI don’t know what songs kids play air guitar in their rooms these days but “back when I was their age” (did I just say that?!), one of the bands on my air guitar short list was most definitely Deep Purple. Their Made In Japan album was, by far, THE album (if a kid couldn’t play anything else on guitar, they could play the intro to Smoke On The Water) and when their studio album, Burn, came out, Purple fans emptied store shelves of it. 

    The band has had four different line-ups (referred to as Mark I, II, III, or IV) and have reportedly collectively sold over 100 million LPs globally. The bassist in Marks III and IV was Glenn Hughes who, along with other members of Deep Purple, were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame last year. 

    While on the subject of the RRHOF, I contacted its CEO, Greg Harris, for some comments about the legendary bassist.

    “An overall thought is what an incredible rock and roll life and what an incredibly warm and open person. It says a lot to be such a great stage presence in rock and roll, through and through and having been so well traveled. He relates to people. I’m very impressed with his friendship and generosity to everybody. If you think about his lineage in the bands he was in before Deep Purple itself and then afterwards, it’s just amazing. So, whether or not you knew the name of the guy playing bass in some of these bands – that unmistakable sound is Glenn Hughes.”

    When I asked Greg if Glenn had been involved with the Hall with regards to contributing any memorabilia, he said, “He has. He’s been, first and foremost, involved with the induction. Then, subsequent to that, he’s actually served as our Hall of Fame ambassador at a few events. He’s such a great spokesperson for the museum. He was generous in providing items for the exhibit. With such a long career and so much movement, he doesn’t have a lot of things left from those early days. But he shared with us a real period piece: a pair of platform shoes that he wore during the Deep Purple era.”

    Mr. Harris closed his comments about Glenn by adding, “Not only is Glenn an inductee into the Hall of Fame but he has also become a member of the Hall of Fame family. He truly has been a great ambassador and he and his wife, Gabby, are just terrific individuals.”

    glennbw copyGlenn not only played in the Deep Purple, but he

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  • glennhughescoverGlenn Hughes: the Autobiography: From Deep Purple to Black Country Communion
    By: Joel McIver and Glenn Hughes
    Publisher: Jawbone Press
    Reviewed: January, 2012

    If you mention the band, Deep Purple, to any baby boomer, you will likely hear instant mouth-generated riffs of some of their huge hits like Hush, Smoke On The Water, Space Truckin’, Burn and many, many more.

    One of the most flamboyant and remarkable members of the band was bass player, Glenn Hughes, who joined the band in 1973, making up what is referred to as the “Mark III” and “Mark IV” band line-ups. To be sure, Hughes made his first mark with his band, Trapeze, but his first huge success happened when he joined Deep Purple. Hughes went on to work with many great artists and bands, as well as doing his own solo work, and is currently thumpin’ the bass with the super group, Black Country Communion.

    After over forty years in the music business, it was high time that Hughes came out with a book to tell his story up to this point. He does so (along with the excellent help and guidance of Joel McIver) with Glenn Hughes: the Autobiography: From Deep Purple to Black Country Communion.

    I don’t want to ruin any surprises in the book but I will say that Mr. Hughes is pretty darn lucky to be alive. I wasn’t surprised by the drug use. I was surprised by extent of his addictions and the distance of his fall.

    The book is chock full of entertaining stories from his days in Trapeze and Deep Purple as well as his work (or attempts at work) with greats like Tony Iommi, David Bowie and Gary Moore, to name but a few. Woven within those tales is the story of a severely addicted but incredibly talented artist. I found my stomach turning into knots as I read his many, many accounts of drug-addled living. The vast amounts of money spent and the great opportunities lost can neither be recaptured.

    That all said, Hughes tells his entire story, warts and all, from the vantage point of one who has finally come to grips with his disease and knows his life of sobriety is a rare second chance at life. It’s obvious that he’s now living life to its real fullest, with the love of life, Gabi, and the renewed passion he has for writing and making music. No, he can’t recover what he has lost in the areas of time and money but that only fuels the intensity to make every moment of every new day count. And, while I’m a huge fan of his work and love the stories behind the music, my biggest take-away is the insight Glenn Hughes provides by baring his soul regarding his disease and his sobriety.

    One interesting thing about this book besides the incredible stories: All the photos provided are in the front of the book instead of in the middle or scattered throughout. I’m not saying that it’s better or worse that way – just interesting.
    Glenn Hughes: the Autobiography isn’t just a must-have book for the rock music fan, it’s a must-have book for anyone who wrestles – no, make that “battles” – with addictive demons.


    Groove Is King
    Rock Candy Funk Party
    Label: J&R Adventures
    Review Date: July 30, 2015


    “Groove Is King” is the second album by Rock Candy Funk Party – a little side band led by Joe Bonamassa drummer, Tal Bergman and also happens to include Bonamassa as well as Ron DeJesus on guitar and Mike Merritt on bass.

    A bit different from their debut CD, “Groove Is King” is a incredibly delightful and masterful blend of jazz, R&B, funk, electronica, and rock. A tighter, more “produced” CD, you can tell that the band has taken their sound to a whole new level. What can I say? It’s just a ton o’ fun to listen to!

    DeJesus said of the project, “This time around, the concept was less jazz and more modern dance with layered grooves. The rhythm section laid the foundation and then we’d add in strings, synths and an incredible horn section, all while keeping it funky.”

    Also new to this album are horn arrangements by Grammy-winning trumpeter Randy Brecker, and contributions from Daniel Sadownick (percussion), James Campagnola (saxophone), Ada Rovatti (saxophone), and Fred Kron (keys). Renato Neto, who played on RCFP’s debut album, joins the lineup again on keys while ZZ Top’s Billy Gibbons lends his trademark growl to the album as the master of ceremonies aka “Mr. Funkadamus.” Together, these players weave into the mix heavier dance beats, rock, and pure unadulterated funk, citing influences such as Daft Punk, the Brecker Brothers, Mark Ronson with Bruno Mars, Massive Attack, Sade, Prince, and Led Zeppelin.

    These influences can be heard in many of the tracks, including the more rock-driven “Don’t Funk With Me” and “Uber Station,” a couple of tight, funky tunes punctuated with horns that recapture some of that classic Brecker Brothers sound, while “Low Tide” and “Groove Is King” feature a more stripped down, guitar-driven funk. “There was a definite intention of making tracks that are danceable,” said Merritt about “Don’t Be Stingy With The SMPTE,” “C You On The Flip Side,” and the EDM mash-up “The Fabulous Tales Of Two Bands,” which has traces of Prodigy’s 1997 hit “Firestarter.” “East Village” and “The 6 Train To The Bronx” both feature a cool, relaxed jazz feel while “Cube’s Brick” has a world music groove reminiscent of Weather Report; a funky yet ethereal treatment can be found on a re-imagining of Peter Gabriel’s “Digging In The Dirt.”

    If you love hearing fun, innovative, music by phenomenal musicians, then “Groove Is King” is the must-buy CD for you.

  • Jason Bonham’s Led Zeppelin Experience

    Bijou Theater

    Knoxville, Tennessee

    May 5, 2015



    It’s been over seven years since the remaining members of Led Zeppelin assembled together for their historic performance at London’s O2 arena. At this time, it appears that a tour from the mates isn’t going to happen. 

    However, what we do get to enjoy is Jason Bonham’s Led Zeppelin Experience which hit Knoxville on May 5th and what an experience it was!

    The band was greeted by a sell out, enthusiastic crowd at Knoxville’s Bijou Theater as they hit the stage playing “We’re Gonna Groove” and went on to blast through Zep favorites such as “Black Dog,” “I Can’t Quit You, Baby,” “Dazed and Confused,” and a bunch of others.

    The band did especially great covers of “Since I Been Loving You,” “Kashmir,” “When The Levee Breaks” and “Stairway To Heaven.” The crowd often sang along and didn’t seem to notice some of the technical difficulties that Bonham would comment about. 

    Guitarist, Tony Catania, was amazing in his treatment of the Zeppelin classics and James Dylan killed it on the vocals.

    A first for Boomerocity: Seeing a drummer actually break a brass cymbal. Yup, Jason did exactly that to which his drum tech quickly replaced while the band left to cheers for an encore. Yes, the band did encore with “Whole Lotta Love” and 

    Jason tours with LZE through the end of May. If you get a chance to get “Experienced,” do. You won’t regret it. 

  • Posted October, 2015

    bonamassabyJamesPatterson2Photo by James Robert PattersonSeveral 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 – andEverythingKnoxvilleLogoEdited 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

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

    Photo by


    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 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 to see when he’ll be performing in a town near you.

  • 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.


    Joe Bonamassa Live At Radio City Music Hall
    Joe Bonamassa
    Label: J&R Adventures
    Release Date: October 2, 2015
    Review Date: October 4, 2015


    I’ve said it before and I’m saying it yet, again:  

    The short version of this review (as with the past reviews of Bonamassa projects): Love it/Buy it.

    The latest live offering by the guitar virtuoso is a delightful collection of songs that clock in at around seventy-five minutes. It features nine previously unreleased tracks and two just recorded songs.

    That’s just on the CD. 

    There’s also a DVD that’s part of the package and it features over three hours of great stuff, including two and a half hours of live performance culled from his two sold out shows at the RCMH, and some great behind the scenes bonus footage that includes his mom and dad giving Joe two cherished family heirlooms (sorry, you’ll need to get your own copy of this to find out what that is) and a little tour of his childhood home.  This is all capped off with a 40-page booklet that is chock full of pictures and info. 

    The performances reflect a good chunk of what people were privileged to see during Bonamassa’s tour wherein the first half was an acoustic set and the second half featured his renowned prowess on the electric guitar.

    Interestingly, the CD does not totally mirror the set list on the DVD. There are just enough differences between the two to make it interesting.

    Needless to say, Boomerocity proudly has this package added to our listening/viewing library and believe that you really should, too.

    Yeah, it’s that good. 


    Muddy Wolf At Red Rocks
    Joe Bonamassa
    Label: J&R Adventures
    Release Date: March 24, 2015
    Review Date: March 22, 2015


    Love it/buy it.

    As in previous reviews of past Bonamassa projects, that’s my review in nut shell.

    For the rest of you, “Muddy Wolf At Red Rocks,” is the latest – and much anticipated – album from Joe Bonamassa. Recorded live on CD and DVD in front of 9,000 enthusiastic fans, this exclusive concert pays tribute to blues legends Muddy Waters and Howlin’ Wolf against the backdrop of the famed Red Rocks Amphitheater.

    Bonamassa gives fans over two and a half hours of some of the best blues you’ll ever hear. If you pick up the DVD, you’ll get an additional one and a half hours of bonus features including behind the scenes peeks, historic clips of Muddy Waters and Howlin’ Wolf, a impressive photo gallery and a very cool featurette of Joe and his producer, Kevin Shirley, visiting the fabled Crossroads.

    Always full of delightfully creative surprises, this album is the first of a planned series of tribute concerts that will feature a different band and body of work that will a marked difference from Joe’s own catalog.

    Behind Joe for this performance was Kirk Fletcher on guitar, the legendary Anton Fig on drums, Michael Rhodes on bass, Reese Wynans on keys, Mike Henderson on harmonica, and Lee Thornburg, Ron Dziuba, and Nick Lane on horns. Tight and precise, the team sounded as though they had played the same set every night for years. Each and every song performed is an audio/visual delight. Observing the crowd while watching the DVD, it’s obvious that they felt the same way.  

    Honestly, though, while I, obviously, love the musical performance, my most favorite part of the whole package is the segment detailing Joe and Kevin Shirley visiting the Delta Blues Museum and the mythical (but very real) crossroads in Clarksdale and (more importantly) Rosedale, Mississippi. You will hear Joe’s personal musical story and his love for the blues. It’s a fascinating glimpse both into the beginning of the blues as well as into Bonamassa’s passion and commitment for the genre. Eavesdropping on Joe and Kevin talking about everything under the sun while driving is the closest thing I’ll ever come to being a fly on the proverbial wall, listening to these guys chat. What a treat!

    By the way, it’s interesting that Joe and Robert Johnson share the same birthday (different years, of course): May 8th.

    Speaking of that commitment, the concert at Red Rocks was presented by Joe’s “Keeping The Blues Alive” (KTBA) – a foundation he founded to promote the heritage of the blues to future generations as well as fund scholarships, and supplement music education funding for public schools that have loss such funding. That particular show raised over $40,000 for this effort.

    Order this package below and, if you feel so inclined, make a donation to Keeping The Blues Alive (here).




    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.


  • Tour de Force: Live In London
    Joe Bonamassa
    Label: J&R Adventures
    Released: May 20, 2014
    Reviewed: May 25, 2014

    I’ve said it before about previous reviews of Joe Bonamassa offerings and I must say it again:  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.

    To be technically correct, I’d have to say all of the above a total of four times because that’s how many CD sets Mr. Bonamassa has rolled out for his fans. Entitled, “Tour de Force – Live In London”, the foursome is offered both as individual concert discs or as a special premium boxed set.  The shows at each of the venues have been captured on two discs per location guaranteeing substantial coverage of each performance.

    Whether in the spacious, historic Royal Albert Hall, the cozy Borderline or the performances at Shepherd’s Bush Empire or Hammersmith Apollo in between, the performances are jaw-dropping in their own right.

    While fans will notice that there are plenty of the JB staples on these discs (“Django/Mountain Time”, “Sloe Gin” and “Just Got Paid:, for instance), don’t make the mistake of thinking that they’re the same ol’ tunes. Just as in any Bonamassa performance, Joe brings new life and energy into those cherished songs. In addition to those favorites, Joe delivers phenomenal performances of newer tunes such as “Dust Bowl”, “Driving Toward The Daylight”, “Slow Train” and “Dislocated Boy”. 

    JB enthusiasts will also be pleased to know that he has also captured his fun with the theremin during his performances of “The Ballad Of John Henry”.  And get this!  The theremin thingy comes in at almost precisely the same time on each of the three performances – I mean with seconds of each other.

    That’s scary good!

    Bonamassa fans will definitely want all four performances as part of their listening library – and to join their video library of the same performances.  As for what to choose to turn people on to this amazing talent?  That’s a hard one to decide. My feeling is that you can’t go wrong with any of them.  Just close your eyes and pick one.