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Kenny Kramme of the Joe Bonamassa Band: Classic Rock Revisited presents another concert review... By Rob Kern


Classic Rock Revisited presents another concert review... By Rob Kern

Classic Rock Revisited presents another concert review...
Joe Bonamassa Mohican Blues Festival Loudonville, Ohio August 21, 2004
By Rob Kern

Set List: You Upset Me Baby, Blues Deluxe, Takin’ the Hit, Wild About You Baby, Burning Hell, If Heartaches Were Nickels, Had To Cry Today. Encore: If 6 Was 9, Spanish Castle Magic. 80 minutes.

Joe Bonamassa may only be in his twenties but he has been making audiences take notice since the young age of twelve when he opened for B.B. King. After moving to the west coast Joe hooked up with a blues/southern rock outfit, Bloodline, recording one album with them before setting out on his own. Four studio releases later, Joe has carved himself a sizable niche in the blues/rock genre. By finding his own style, yet paying homage to those that he grew up idolizing, Joe’s high-octane leads and melodic tunes are impressing fans young and old.

The Mohican Blues Festival could arguably be one of Northeastern Ohio’s best-kept secrets. Nestled in the hills of Loudonville, Ohio, the daylong festival, now in its sixth year, is host to some of the brightest names in the blues/rock genre. Regional favorites such as Sam Getz, Josh Boyd and The Mike Lenz Band share the stage with national acts such as Mem Shannon and Anthony Gomes. After a blazing set at the 2003 festival, Joe Bonamassa was invited back to close this year’s edition of the festival.

After a sunset taste of New Orleans-flavored blues from Mem Shannon and the Membership and a rousing performance of gospel/blues/R&B/rock by guitarist Anthony Gomes (check him out, true believers, you won’t be sorry), the crowd was primed and anything but tired after almost twelve hours of live music. The balmy August day had turned into a cold September evening and the 2,000 plus attendees packed stage front eagerly awaiting Joe and his band to take the boards.

Kicking off the set with “You Upset Me Baby” from Blues Deluxe, Joe and his band wasted no time heating up the chilly night air. The band was wrapping up the Blues Deluxe tour on this night and featured three other songs from this fiery release: “Blues Deluxe”, “Wild About You Baby” and “Burning Hell”. They did a fantastic job capturing these songs in the studio but live they amp up the energy to jaw-dropping levels.
“Joe Bonamassa - Always on the Road”, read the sign in front of Joe’s Marshall amps and the band has the chops to prove it. Joe, along with Eric Czar on bass and Kenny Kramme on drums anticipated one another’s every note and fed upon and played off each other like a pack of musical wolves. The band took the studio versions of songs and super-charged them with blues-rock muscle that would leave many a trio scratching their heads. The concert stage is the perfect place to showcase Joe’s nimble-quick, yet moving and soulful fretwork.

Joe took So, It’s Like That gem, “Takin’ The Hit” and hit it out of the park as his vocals and lead guitar work sizzled throughout the tune. Taking the opportunity to flesh out the tunes in a live setting, Joe and the band’s soloing never once took on a egotistical, “look at me” vibe or a yawn-inducing, “how long has this song been going on?” feel throughout the crowd that many extended-jam bands are guilty of producing. Just simply a great group of musicians that have a firm grasp on their vision and enjoy giving the crowd the best performance they can, night after night.

One of the night’s highlights was when the band dipped back to their debut release A New Day Yesterday and lit up on the tune “If Heartaches Were Nickels”; the sight of Joe belting out the verses as his breath fogged up the cold night air was remarkable. It was one of those truly rare live moments as the crowd and performer merged as one. Joe took a brief moment to switch guitars as he told the fans that their new release Had To Cry Today would be coming out in three days and the new tour would be kicking off later in the week; no rest for the wicked indeed. They then gave those in attendance a taste of the new release by playing the title track, a cover of the rocking Blind Faith tune. If fans have any worries about Joe’s new release, put them to bed, the song was a solid mix of rock, blues and smoking leads that left those in attendance wishing that the next day were Tuesday instead of Sunday. The band then left the stage as the crowd chanted for an encore.

The encore came as a Jimi Hendrix twofer of “If 6 was 9” and “Spanish Castle Magic”. Joe, Eric and Kenny did a masterful job of paying homage to the original tunes and sprinkling them with teases of other classic songs; “Dude, he snuck in the lead from “The Fish” by Yes!” was just one exclamation heard leaving the show that night. At the end of the show, Joe invited all to come back to his merchandise booth where he and the band would be taking time to answer questions and sign whatever fans wanted autographed. Wrapping up a tour, with a week off ahead of them, most bands would be thinking about getting on the bus for home and relaxing, not this group, a true class act onstage and off.

As the sign reads, Joe Bonamassa is always on the road, make sure you have plans to see him in support of Had To Cry Today. While you are at it, book a trip to next year’s Mohican Blues Festival; with acts this good it won’t be a secret much longer…
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