JOE BONAMASSA in Hannover, Germany
"Henry's Bluesgarage", 21. April 2006 



























Concert Review 

at Henry's Blues Garage
Hannover, Germany Friday April 21, 2006

The ride to Hannover is easy enough, even for a Friday evening, as we've learned to leave later in order to avoid the traffic. It seems that ninety percent of the traffic are polish people heading back to Poland for the weekend, as the Autobahn A2 is the fastest way to get back home.

But this review isn't about the state of the "European Union", it's about Joe Bonamassa. I was late to jump on the Joe Bonamassa "Band Wagon", living here in Germany for the last four and a half years, I missed what's hot and what's not from back home, and back home Joe Bonamassa is hot news. Home in my case is Latham, New York, just ten miles outside of Albany, the states capital, and just an hours drive from Albany heading west towards Syracuse / Buffalo is Utica, New York, and that's Joe's hometown. To us locals, the only memorable thing that ever came out of Utica, N.Y. was UTICA CLUB BEER, Shultz and Dooley, that's until Joe came rolling along.

We arrive at the Blues Garage as usual around 8:10, but what's unusual is the crowd of people lined up outside the venue and waiting as patiently as humanly possible to get inside and start the Friday night party activities. So we talk to each other in line, compare notes and cd covers and discuss Joe like music pro's. There's a food vender and many of us take advantage of this convenience just to kill some time, and grab a quick bite on the way in. Five hundred people waited in line and ultimately pasted through the doors on their way to one hell of a memorable evening.

Inside, finally and we catch up with our friends Wallbreaker and Florian. Henry the owner is running all over the place at full speed and his wife Ramona and his daughters who also work there, are in top gear providing Grade-A service as always. Grab a beer and a coke and find a place to get out of the way and relax for a half hour, it's 9:30 and Henry makes damn sure that the bands kick off exactly at 10:00 - sharp! But not on this night, 10:00 comes and goes, 10:15 - 10:25 - 10:30 still no band, no Joe Bonamassa no nothinŽ. People are getting restless, checking their watches every two minutes, wandering all over the venue, trying to get any vantage point possible, but there's none to be had. Even the staircase to the upstairs area is packed, with only one thin space open to ascend and descend the loft. 10:45 and this pressure cooker is more than ready to rock and roll - and so it does. Right out of the gate Joe and his new band are on fire, they're up to speed in a heartbeat and they never let up. Rock / Blues and Jazzy Acoustic Numbers keep the audience enthralled and entertained for the entire ninety minute performance. My personal favourite was "Woke Up Dreaming" which left everyone speechless and emotionally drained. Joe did some excellent slide guitar work on a few numbers, let his guitars wail on the rock and blues tunes, but most of all Joe Bonamassa became one with the audience. This is the magic of his performance, he relates perfectly to his audience, he's not only performing but so involved with trying to make himself and everyone there happy that everything in the room just seems to fuse happily together into a beautiful, warm glowing, happy experience. Some artists are good performers, some are very proficient on their instruments of choice, and some create magic within the given moment, Joe is all of these things and then some. It's not an act, it's real - one hundred percent passion, energy and unbounded unsurpassed talent. Joe is rare, unique, special and a thrill and joy to watch on stage. His movements are effortless, his playing the same and his guitars are a fascinating collection of best friends that when called upon, never let him down. In my reviews I usually give a run down of the set list, this time it's different. Here are just a few performed on this evening: Woke Up Dreaming - Love You / Hate You - Burning Hell - If Heartaches Were Nickels, Walk In My Shadow, you fans know the rest, the set list isn't important - what I came here to talk about, is the new band line up!

The old band consisted of Joe Bonamassa (Guitar / Vocals), Eric Czar (Bass Guitar) and Kenny Kramme (Drums). The new band is Joe Bonamassa (Guitar / Vocals) Mark Epstein (Bass Guitar) Bogie Bowles (Drums). Bogie is from Kenny Wayne Shepherd's band, and Mark is from Johnny Winter's band. Mark got this gig playing with Joe through his friend Eric Czar, so let there be no talk of hard feeling or someone being slighted in any way, there were no "Mumbling Words". It was all above board and a mutual decision was made by everyone involved. In conclusion, Eric Czar and Kenny Kramme will land on their feet and produce more great and inventive music in their careers, we've been told.

With that being said, what is the new band like on stage now? Tight, tight as ever before. The drumming is precise and a driving powerhouse, non-stop rolling thunder - supportive rhythm section of excitement and energy. The bass lines are even reminiscent of Mel Schacher from Grand Funk Railroad fame, that thundering authoritative rumble of power, class and passion all rolled into one driving force. It's directly because of this fantastic rhythm section that Joe is able to come across so effectively with everything that he's doing up front. Lay a good foundation and anything is possible and permissible under these fertile conditions. Lay a great foundation and magic and miracles can / do happen right before your eyes, and that's the essence of this review - you ain't seen nothinŽ like it. If you go expecting to see Mr. Bonamassa walk on the water, he will not disappoint, but you're missing the whole point. He knows he can walk on the water, and he just does it, no big deal to him - but he wants you to feel the excitement / experience of being transported from one emotional / physical adventure onto another….and that's his gift to you. He'll lift you up, carry you along and leave you feeling that you've been someplace you've never travelled before. Then he and the band drop you off further on up the road, and you'll never look back!

The audience was tightly packed into this venue, more people then I'm used to, and while not at all uncomfortable it was still an overwhelming situation. Henry's Blues Garage, is like the old Fillmore East in New York City, it has the same feel and atmosphere of say 1967-1972. Just as a quick example why we love this venue and it's owner and his family. There was a man by the name of Holger who is in a wheelchair, and he found himself stuck in the back of the audience, needless to say all he was gonna see was everybody's ass and none of the concert. Henry took hold of his wheelchair and escorted the man right to the front of the stage, right in front where Joe was standing. Upon talking with this gentleman after the show, I came to learn that he owns his own independent blues record label, and that he was also at Joe's concert the night before. We bought the man a beer and as the stage hands were passing out Joe's guitar picks, Brigitte and I both got one - whereby Brigitte says to me, give the man in the wheelchair one, we don't need two, and he'll enjoy it. He did, and this is how we make friends wherever we go.

Meeting Joe Bonamassa: Well, first we hung around the backstage area, waiting and talking with other fans. Then I walked over to Florian for a chat, and he says Joe is right around the corner signing autographs, no shit I blurt out! We walk ten feet around the corner and sure enough, there he is, big as life and in vivid living color. Brigitte has the camera at the ready as she starts snapping away. I have all my JB - CD covers out and at the ready for his autograph. I stand on the left hand side as the line was coming from the right, as I wait for my turn to approach him. I start by saying, "Hey Joe, why the hell don't you answer your emails?" "I sent you many an email and you never a reply?" He looks a little taken aback but raises his head with more smile on his face than shock and with no anger - he says "you're not from here are you, you don't sound at all German?" I reply, "I'm from Albany, New York" Joe face breaks out into the broadest smile you've ever seen in your life, "we're near neighbours" he point out, "where exactly in the Albany area are you from"? Latham, I tell him, "ah yes I know that town" he says, "my parents still live in Utica, what brings you here to Germany?" I introduce him to Brigitte, they have a little chat while I purchase a copy of his brand new cd entitled "You and Me" and he autographs it for us while still talking. Henry comes up with a few posters for Joe to sign and the autograph session is over. I then ask Joe if he's going to come out front later and we'll be more than happy to buy him a drink and we can talk a little while longer. Joe says "we get our drinks for free, but I'd be happy to talk with you and Brigitte for awhile". Great, we'll catch you later.

Our Impression: Great guy, nice person, good manners, and if you passed him on the street he'd be just like you and me, one of us. Did I mention brilliant? As I watched him listening and interacting with everyone around him he caught it all and missed nothing - he has a brilliant mind that allows him to multi-task without shifting gears. I mean fast as greased lightning, split second timing, with the god given ability to access the situation and respond quickly and accurately. With all due respect, Joe Bonamassa and our friend Popa Chubby seem to function in the same way, and are both great talents of our time. Also, both have Leslie West in their corner as their most loyal supporter. Both appeared on Leslie's "Guitarded" cd, Popa on "Stormy Monday" and Joe on "If Heartaches Were Nickels". All three musicians have a lot in common, besides their great talent, they're all overgrown teddy-bears-loveable squeezable and a real pleasure to know. Joe Bonamassa being the gentlest of the three, what an unassuming guitar hero and overall talent the man is!

So, we hung around and watched and waited patiently for Joe to come out and stand still long enough for us to finish our chat. The band invited us back to their hotel, and if we stayed long enough that's where we would've ended up, but as with Leslie West, Ten Years After and Popa Chubby we never like to overstay our welcome. I may be wrong, but I don't think so. While it would be very nice, and most people would love to be invited back to the bands hotel room, we respect their privacy. Maybe this is the reason why we have stayed friends with so many bands and famous musicians. We also have earned their respect, and we're always welcome to join them for dinner, backstage, drinks, and after the concert. As for Mr. Bonamassa, we did say a proper good-bye, shook hands, thanked him for everything and parted ways on a high happy note. We'll meet again, I'm sure and it will be as though we never said good-bye. To be close to Joe, just place one of his cd's into the changer and crank it up.

Thanks for everything Mr. Bonamassa




CD Review 


My favourite Joe Bonamassa cd is "Blues Deluxe", this new release called "You and Me" just found runner up position in my vast collection and just may be heading for first place position very soon. To my utter amazement Joe keeps putting out quality, top shelf material, and just when I thought it couldn't get any better it does. It has been my experience in over forty years of collecting music, that an artist has his / her strong releases and some not so impressive releases, you buy their material and you take your chances. In Joe's case he changes tempo, style and everything else, not only from cd to cd but track to track as well. In Joe's case his talent seems limitless, unbounded and totally pure / organic in nature, as it just keep pouring out in an endless stream of perfection, energy and passion. It's few and far between that I have had the pleasure to witness this level of craftsmanship, artistic credibility, and driving creativity anywhere before. The Beatles (as a group) Popa Chubby, and Rory Gallagher (individually) are the ultimate exceptions to the rule, that come to mind. Joe Bonamassa is in the top of his class, as he started right up to speed and didn't have to get warmed up or find his sense of direction, it seems he just entered and hit the ground running, full speed ahead, and nothing was going to stop him - not back then and certainly not now. Every one of Joe's releases represent their own special pinnacle, and moreover each holds up perfectly on its own merits. This brand new cd hasn't even been released in the United States, here in Germany it's selling faster than you would ever imagine. Way to go Joe, this may be your fastest selling and best effort to date, it has my vote for best cd of the year. It'll be almost impossible to beat, in my opinon. One recommendation: Use Headphones, to get the full effect of the music - hear what you're missing through the speakers - backing vocals and guitar fills become more prominent, and you can even hear the count off to "I Don't Believe" in Spanish - it's a work of art! Dave and Brigitte


CD Review: 

What musical influences can you pick out - on Joe's new cd?

1. "High Water Everywhere" the old Charlie Patton song is a great opener, (the first few seconds of the song remind me of a Vanilla Fudge song - "People Get Ready") with its haunting melody that sticks in your mind long after the song is over. For me it brings to mind "When the Leave Breaks" on Led Zeppelin four, in fact "High Water Everywhere" would be a great prelude to Zeppelins "Leave". For me, it's an emotional roller-coaster ride into the past, as Joe's playing and singing display a very strong plea for relief and not for sorrow or piety. Also the guitar work is somewhere between Gary Moore and Paul Kossoff. 4:05 in duration.

2. "Bridges to a Better Days" is in typical Joe style, hard driving number, and the lead vocals are strong, as well as the support vocals that ring through both speakers, and just when you think the song is fading out, (at 1:46 into it) bang off Joe goes into the strat-o-sphere. This song reminds me of the old "Killing Floor" song (in lyrics) with the wailing guitar work of the old "Cactus" band (from One Way Or Another") and the rhythm guitar work is that of Leslie West and his Mountain days. The vocal chorus fills both speakers. I have rarely heard a piece of music that moves me as much as this one does, why? Because it has everything in it, everything is working off of everything else, all in different segments and yet it's all interrelated - it's a tapestry-all quilted together-and you are in awe every second of the song, incredible, amazing, a brilliant piece of work. 5:05 in duration.

3. "Asking Around For You" (Joe Bonamassa) with "Orchestration" is a nice touch as Joe is singing with more than enough soul to please even James Brown, while his guitar work sings out strong it's always very tasteful as well. I also hear a strong Greg Allman influence throughout this song (Please Call Home) or Joe Cocker (It's A Sin When You Love Somebody or "Put Out The Light" from his "I Can Stand A Little Rain" album). For you die-hard blues fans, the end of the song comes with a special surprise, a very subtle tribute to Kenny Burrell / it's from Kenny's "Midnight Blue" album (from 1963) or "God Bless The Child" (from 1971) release, listen carefully to the fade out and you can't miss it. What's special about "Asking Around For You", is that this slow blues song is so well done, that you don't even notice the change up from the screaming rocker of the previous track that leads right into this completely different style - simply brilliant. 4:15 in duration

4. "So Many Roads" (Paul Marshall) Is another slow blues / medium paced blues number with some excellent keyboard work. If this cd came to an end right here, it would still be well worth the purchase price and without complaint, everything that follows this song is just a huge bonus as far as I'm concerned. Everything presented here is perfectly clean, clear, pure and stellar 7:05 in duration

5. "I Don't Believe" (Don Robey / Manuel Charles) Nice change up again, gritty, jive jumping, smooth, slick and soulful - with horns, nice effect. A rip-snorting good time bluesy jazzy rocker - reminiscent of B.B.King's style. Great rolling keyboard work throughout. I hear Johnny Winter, Gary Moore, Clarence Gatemouth Brown, Elmore James and Freddy King all through this number. 3:20 in duration.

6. "Tamp Em Up Solid" (Ryland Cooder) Another drastic change up - nice and right from the heart. This song sounds as much like a blues number as it does a folk song, spiritual song and prayer, and as well it should, because its source was from a traditional arrangement. 2:35 

7. Django Instrumental (Inspired by "Vous Et Moi") ( Robert Bosmans, Etienne Lefebvre) - beautifully haunting.

8. "Tea For One" (Jimmy Page / Robert Plant) Is from the Led Zeppelin album entitled "Presence" from 1976 Lead vocals on this song are by Doug Henthorn. Of all the Led Zeppelin songs to choose from Joe choose this one to do, good choice Joe, as it goes with the overall flow of the material included. It's also the longest track on the cd - clocking in at 9:35. Beautiful guitar work throughout.

9. "Palm Trees Helicopters And Gasoline" (Instrumental ) Acoustic Guitar picking at its best - 1:45

10. Your Funeral And My Trial (Sonny Boy Williamson) LD Miller - 12 year old Harmonica Player - Brilliant! The harmonica effect sounds like the one used on Joe Satriani's "Flying In A Blue Dream" album, on the song entitled "Headless" which is an instrumental and only 1:30 long, or "Blues Traveller" style. Great job Mr. Miller!!!!

11. Tore Down (Joe Bonamassa / Gregg Sutton) Excellent ending to a perfect CD release, another step in the right direction for Joe Bonamassa! Again this song has the Joe Satriani sound, combined with an Indian (running bear) drum beat, that leads straight into (the main chorus from Bad Company's song entitled "Heartbeat") with a Beatles like chorus included. The very beginning of the song sounds just like the start to "Roundabout" by YES. 4:30 As I point out the influence that other bands have had on Joe over the years, and how they pop up in his music, it is in no way a negative factor, in fact just the opposite is true, flattery is the sincerest form of flattery they say, and Joe flatters and impresses everyone he meets. In Conclusion: The songs change direction from track to track, the recording, mastering and production is perfect. The songs ring, Joe sings with force or sensitivity whatever the mood calls for, and the ending of each song fades out without being rushed. A perfect recording and right now it's my number one favourite of Mr. Bonamassa's output. Thanks for everything Joe.

From Joe Bonamassa: "This record was wonderfully produced by Kevin Shirley, and marks a step that I have always wanted to take in my musical quest. With the help from a modern day super-group, including Jason Bonham, Carmine Rojas, Doug Henthorn, Rick Melick and Pat Thrall, we concentrated on heavy music played in a blues style. I personally wanted to make a blues album, not a rock album that has blues on it. There is much discussion these days on just what is or isn't blues; so much so, that many albums suffer from an apologetic sound. This in an era where it's best to play it safe, I chose to take a risk if only as a reminder to everyone, that the boundaries are still wide open and there are no rules. I hope this album inspires you as much as I felt in making it. It was truly a liberating experience for me. With that being said ladies and gentleman, I present "You and Me". 2006 Sincerely, Joe"

 CD Produced by Kevin "Caveman" Shirley and Joe "SmokinŽJoe" Bonamassa Mixed at Sterling Sound NYC Tour Manager in Europe - Manni Kusters Fan Club President - Stu Craig Webmaster - Roger "Nick" Walker "STREET TEAM" MEMBERS BRIGITTE SCHOLZ and DAVE WILLEY (HANNOVER, GERMANY / LATHAM, NEW YORK)


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