Country Blues => Saturday Night Fish Fry => Topic started by: Mr.OMuck on May 11, 2008, 06:10:06 PM

Title: Honeyboy Edwards & Louisiana Red at B.B. Kings, NY 2007
Post by: Mr.OMuck on May 11, 2008, 06:10:06 PM
 I'm posting this mini review of a 2007 show because Louisiana Red is scheduled to play here again shortly.

Honeyboy Edwards & Louisiana Red at B.B. Kings, NY

Just came back from hearing the eminent Mr. Edwards at B.B. King's here in New York. He is, at 92(?) still a compelling musician with his own quirky timing, spare but eloquent singing, and an amazingly powerful spirit that infuses all his songs and makes them more than the sum of their parts. His playing like his singing is spare but driving, surprising and unlike anyone else's. He was accompanied by Rocky Lawrence who dresses like, and plays the same model Gibson as Robert Johnson. albeit with a pick-up. He is a middle aged African American fellow who fingerpicks with his thumb and index finger holding a flatpick in lieu of a thumbpick, with third and fourth finger doing the remainder of the job. This indicates to me that he comes from an electric guitar background. He also did a solo set including Love in Vain and Me and the Devil which were just OK but gave no indication of how good a player he really is. That came later as he backed up Mr. Edwards with deft, tasteful & blues knowledgeable runs and first rate slide work. Man's got chops!
The show opened with Louisiana Red. I have long contended that rhythm sections tend to rob the blues of a lot of its anarchic vitality by the imposition of metronomic time. Red was a good example of how insane this music can get unfettered by bass and drums. He played a vintage strat and an old Kay. He ran through a group of songs of his own built on old Blues standards like Big Bill Broonzy's Just a dream. A blues who's who is evoked by sound and by name, Lightnin' Hopkins, Elmore James, Muddy Waters, Jimmy Reed, Big Maybelle appear as characters or as musical guests in this wildman's eclectic, freeform ,rough but convincing music. It generated a bit of anxiety as the songs sometimes appeared to be on the verge of spinning out of control and disintegrating , but somehow Red managed to pull them from the brink at the last moment. He played an encore with Mr. Edwards and Mr. Lawrence, in which he seemed to be PUI (playing under the influence) in an overpowering and disrespectful manner. Mr. Edwards' glowering stare failed to effect the necessary chastisement. It was a drag. But on balance Louisiana Red's performance was extremely interesting, intelligent and original. Mr. Edwards was also accompanied on harmonica by Michael Frank of Earwig Music who played authentic sounding unobtrusive vamping licks to good effect.
There were crackling amps, and feedback problems throughout the show.
At 26 bucks a head, and with a headliner of this importance, B.B.'s ought to have that shit together.

In case I didn't make this point clearly enough Louisiana Red is definitely worth going to see.
I've never seen John Hammond turn in a lackluster performance and I've seen him a lot over the years.
He always gives 100% in my experience and usually surprises those who only know him from his recordings, which while good don't quite capture his skills as a guitar & harmonica player or his intensity as a singer and performer imo. I haven't heard his latest releases though. Anyway a very good bill, catch it if you can.
Title: Re: Honeyboy Edwards & Louisiana Red at B.B. Kings, NY 2007
Post by: doctorpep on May 11, 2008, 10:05:21 PM
Thanks for the review of the show! I've already seen Hammond twice, so I'm really going to see Louisiana Red. I hope I'm not disappointed. Hopefully he won't drink too much. Seeing musicians live is a real gamble. I've seen Buddy Guy twice; the first time he was excellent, and the second time he was awful. Bo Diddley was delusional and thought he was in Connecticut, even though he was in New York. He barely touched his guitar. The wonderful Alvin Youngblood Hart saved his ass that night. I hope Louisiana Red performs well. I have his "Midnight Rambler" album and think it's very enjoyable, but that's all I've heard from him. God knows I'll never see Chuck Berry live, as he's known to be very sloppy and turn in lackluster performances. Anyway, I'm rambling! Thanks for the information!
Title: Re: Honeyboy Edwards & Louisiana Red at B.B. Kings, NY 2007
Post by: Johnm on May 11, 2008, 10:29:08 PM
Thanks very much for the review, O'Muck.  I'm unaccustomed to reading concert reviews from writers who know so much about the subject.  I know what you mean about Red's music being wild.  What's interesting along with that is that occasionally, particularly in his slide playing, he plays with beautiful nuance.
From what I know of Red personally, I think it's unlikely that he was playing under the influence.  He may just not have been in a mood to let Honeyboy call the shots in terms of phrasing, who would take a solo when, etc.  Not a lot of fun to see when such things happen.
All best,
Title: Re: Honeyboy Edwards & Louisiana Red at B.B. Kings, NY 2007
Post by: markm on May 12, 2008, 09:22:38 AM
I have known Red for a few years now and I don't know him as a drinker or indulger.  I don't know what is going on but I don't think it has anything to do with subtance intake. I know ole Red really gets excited with an electric guitar in hand. 

Title: Re: Honeyboy Edwards & Louisiana Red at B.B. Kings, NY 2007
Post by: doctorpep on May 12, 2008, 12:40:41 PM
That's good news. I'm glad he's in fine shape, and am looking forward to seeing him live.
Title: Re: Honeyboy Edwards & Louisiana Red at B.B. Kings, NY 2007
Post by: Mr.OMuck on May 12, 2008, 01:03:21 PM
Thanks for the additional info JohnM. It could very well have been an ego conflict thing, and not PUI, or a musical difference thing, going on but it was weird in any case. Still worthwhile though!
Title: Re: Honeyboy Edwards & Louisiana Red at B.B. Kings, NY 2007
Post by: oddenda on January 31, 2009, 04:02:13 AM
And Honeyboy played at one of the Obama inaugural parties in DC - hey, a president who likes Howlin' Wolf can't be all bad! He can still play as well as ever; he never was a great singer, so that part of the deal isn't so noticeably different. Saw Red here in Oz a few years ago with Cary Bell - Red kept it all together by sheer force of will... brilliant.

Peter B.
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