Joe Bonamassa

Concert review– Joe Bonamassa at the Florida Theatre, Jacksonville, FL 12/9/12

Our man Nanker crashes the apparent Blackfoot Fan Club meeting hosted by JB!

Joe Bonamassa, Florida Theatre, 12/912

Joe Bonamassa, Florida Theatre, 12/9/12

Joe’s roots go deep in NE Florida. As he spun the tale last night, back in 1990 he visited the city with his Dad for a gig at the Jacksonville Landing with local legendary Southern rockers ( yes, Greg Allman, I know that term is redundant!) Blackfoot, which included original ( and I mean pre- “Workin’ For MCA”) and current Skynyrd member Ricky Medlocke, and earlier had a regional hit LP, “Strikes”, with the now-classic ” Train, Train “. The thirteen-year-old Joe was ” about a year and a half older” than his soon-to-be partner in mischief, Derek Trucks. The two youngsters had several hours to kill, so being boys they ” pretended to be someone else’s children” and snuck into The Landing’s anchor tenant, Hooters, where even today Joe recalls that the ” girls were really hot!”. Sidling up to the bar with a casual, ” Hi, I’m Joe, and this is my friend Derek”, the boys were soon getting the bum’s rush from a huge bouncer, directly into the custody of Joe’s Dad, who told the boy,  ” Of all you’ve done, all the hell you’ve put me through… I’ve never been so proud of you!”

Has to be head-spinning 23 years later to be “standing onstage at the sold-out Florida Theatre before a raucous crowd” , living the dreams he and Derek dared to dream. Joe did not waste the moment, rocking the house for two hours and change of acoustic blues, hard jazz-blues-rock, and straight-ahead electric blues, including covers of axemen who no doubt influenced young Joe. Walking onstage alone promptly at 8pm, clad in an elegant tailored black suit and rocking his uber-classic black high-top Chuck Taylors ( talk about old school; every baller wore them in the 60s!), Joe began with a tasty acoustic set that included a fine cover of Bad Company’s ” Seabird”. Takes some guts to cover any Paul Rogers vocals, or Mick Ralphs guitar, for that matter, but Joe has a strong, resonant voice that seems to be improving with age, and the acoustic strumming was well received.

Joe acoustic

Joe starts ’em off soft and slow, with a bongo assist!

But there couldn’t have been five people in the crowd of aging white guys ( La Magda claimed it was at least ” six to one men” ) who came to hear anything acoustic, and soon the band joined Joe on his dazzling array of freshly-tuned axes ( yes, that was his ’64 Gibson Firebird 1 that opened) for a blazing electric set that reminded of all the greats – Beck, Hendrix, Stevie Ray- yet somehow remained his own deft, speedy style. The tunes included Bonamassa originals “Slow Train”, “Dust Bowl”, and “Midnight Blues”, and nods to giants with covers of Mose Allison’s ” Young Man Blues”, (a la Pete Townsend on  ” Live at Leeds “), Billy Gibbons and ZZ Top’s ” Pocketful of Change ” ( drunks were hollering for  ” Just got paid today”, the opening line), and an extended, blistering rave-up instrumental of Jimmy Page’s Led Zep war horse, ” Dazed and Confused”, as the finale to the encore. The band joined arms onstage for a bow, to the stomping standing ovation of the packed house.

Joe Bonamassa

Joe shreds on, neither dazed nor confused!

In the wake of this fabulous show and the revelation of the Trucks connection, I’m calling out Mayor Alvin Brown to clear the Landing for a guitar heavyweight slugfest reuniting the Hooters crashers. Smokin’ Joe versus the scion of the First Coast First Family of the Blues. Come on, Mister Mayor, make it happen!

Phledge notes that the more they count the votes,  Florida is a certified blue(s) state!

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