BCS Spotlight

Ron Reis

Ron Reis

Sunday’s show at Ravinia in Highland Park was a triple bill. First up was Doyle Bramhall II. Bramhall’s father is known for his association with Stevie Ray Vaughan. That said, his music is very much in the vein of Vaughan and Hendrix. His outfit was a hot four piece band - two guitars, bass and drums with Bramhall handling the vocals. The set was short and sweet - about 30 minutes - though they we’re the perfect warm up for the acts to follow.

Next up was Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings. We’re talking old school R&B at its finest with two guitars, three horns, drums, bass, percussion and the amazing voice of Sharon Jones. To say Jones was “amazing” doesn’t even do her justice. She is truly an astounding performer. A 59-year-old cancer survivor, she displayed the energy of a hyperactive child. The band also shared this energy. Jones’ voice was still very strong and I simply cannot believe she is not more well-known than she is.

Headlining the show was the Tedeschi Trucks Band. The band is led by husband and wife team Derek Trucks and Susan Tedeschi. Trucks is possibly one of the finest slide guitar players on the planet. Derek started playing at a very young age. This 36-year-old already has quite a resume. In his years as a musician, this young man has shared the stage with many music legends. His tenure with the Allman Brothers Band alone commands respect.

Susan Tedeschi is a well-respected blue guitar player and singer. Her speaking voice is no comparison to the power that comes out when she sings. Tedeschi and Trucks perform as a twelve piece band, including two drummers, bass, three horns, three backup vocals, and keys/flute.

Their set was a bit too short for my taste so I guess they do their job in leaving the fans wanting more. For the encore, Bramhall and a few members of the Dap Kings joined in. The band’s closing number for the night was Sly Stone’s “I Wanna Take You Higher”. It was almost like a religious experience with Susan and Sharon Jones preaching the gospel of funk.

“Boom Shakka Lakka Lakka”

“Boom Shakka Lakka Lakka”

Truly spiritual in the purest sense of the word. To me, Sharon Jones stole the show. One of the best concerts I have ever attended and the prefect venue for such a show at Ravinia. If the Wheels of Soul Tour passes by in your area, get yourself a ticket. You might want to pack your dancing shoes.

"I was so much younger then - I'm younger than that now."  This is from the chorus of the opening song, "My Back Pages" by Bob Dylan. Those words were pretty much the theme of the evening during the solo performance by Roger McGuinn, the founder of The Byrds, at the Elgin Community College Arts Center.

To begin, picture this - room is dark just before hearing McGuinn's classic twelve-string Rickenbacker begin to hum. The spotlight soon after hits a man stage left who looks much younger than most 72-year-olds, as youthfulness has graced the legendary performer over the years. McGuinn kicks into a jam and we are off. After the opening number, McGuinn relocates to center stage where he sits for story time. Each story was as fascinating as the last as he shares his life freely with the audience. McGuinn played and sang throughout the night, introducing each number with an associated memory.

And what a history this man has had! The music naturally helped move each story along in a way that led us to a whole new experience. Alternating between guitars, his arsenal included both seven and twelve-string accoustics. He also played his Rickenbacker and performed one song on the banjo. He played two sets with a brief intermission sandwiched in between, making fans eager to see how McGuinn would top the first act. He did. The second set opened the same as the first and we were off to more magic from a true contributor to our pop culture as we know it.

It was nice to see a musician who has held up so well over the decades, both physically and on an entertainment level. Seeing him perform live really gave me an aprreciation as to what an outstanding guitar player he truly is. The Byrds are often thought of as an electric folk band, but Roger is clearly a bit deeper than that. McGuinn also showed his sense of humor in between one song after another. One thing for sure, McGuinn is still a highly entertaining performer.

 

The story goes on for this man of many talents. McGuinn has accomplished a lot in his lifetime and from the looks of it, plans to keep going. And I think that his fans hope that will be the case.  

 

Wednesday, 18 March 2015 00:00

The Weight Does The Band Right

Former members of The Band, Levon Helm Band and the Rick Danko Band were playing songs popularized by The Band last Friday night at the Elgin Community College Arts Center. It was very nice seeing such well-seasoned players serving up some fine music. This talented musical outfit is simply called The Weight.

Five piece band like the original, there were only a few differences. For one, there was no change in the drummer seat. In the original lineup Levon Helm would often jump on the mandolin and Richard Manuel would occasionally sit behind the kit. Friday night’s show had two keyboardists were playing the entire time, swapping places behind an electric piano and a Hammond B3. The guitar player was also covering the mandolin parts.

The musicianship was flawless. The vocals were very good, but naturally a slightly different blend than the Helm/Danko/Manuel harmonies of the past. Still, there were moments when you could close your eyes and take a trip back to yesteryear.

The Weight opened up with “Stage Fright”, a classic from the album of the same name. About half of the songs from the self-titled Brown album were covered. But they saved the big hits for the end, beautifully executing “The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down”, “The Weight” and “Up On Cripple Creek”. Ending on a high note, The Weight jumped into encores “Rag Mama Rag” and the Bob Dylan penned “I Shall Be Released”.

Everyone present in the crowd seemed to thoroughly enjoy the show. However, there were too many empty seats for the caliber of entertainment presented. You should have been there.

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