Monday, January 22, 2007


Tardy Concert Posting

As some of you may know, I am a professional musician. At the young age of 37, I have been playing guitar professionally around the country, for 20 years, logging close to 2,500 gigs. At this point in my life, there aren't a whole lot of gigs, acts, or events that really evoke any excitement from me, much less boyish exuberance. However, last week, was a guitarist's weekend of weekends for moi'. My band opened for Styx on Friday, January 12th, and then the following Sunday, I got to see Eric Johnson......the latter being my all time favorite guitarist / musician.

Styx is still playing coliseums and amphitheaters, so for them to agree to play at our club, Wild Bills in Atlanta, was a bit of a coup. It also helps that we share the same manager. The show was sold out. After an enjoyable set on our part, I proceeded to shed my typical backstage cutty, and mingle with the throng of 4,500 strong. Styx dropped the downbeat at 11:00 sharp, opening with Blue Collar Man, followed up imediately with Grand Illusion, and then just proceeded to stomp the proverbial mudhole in the heart of Gwinnett County that night.....I stood in the same spot ( sans multiple trips to refurbish my Crown Royal and Diet Coke ), and watched in amazement at these "older guys" just rocking like it was still 1985. The absence of Dennis DeYoung as a member of the band was a tad bittersweet. Even though the classic lineup is always what I would prefer to witness, DeYoung's replacement does a better than satisfactory job of covering the original member's vocal and keyboard duties, but more importantly, guaranteed us that there would be no "Mister Roboto".......thank God.

The set ended with Tommy Shaw just belting out Snowblind, and then Renegade. Awesome.

Sunday January 14th, at the Variety Playhouse, Eric Johnson, took the stage again at that venue, for the third time in 12 months. I have seen Eric probably 13 times now, since 1990......and it NEVER gets old. Better yet, my 9 year old son, now gets to tag along with me and enjoy the shows as well. Bottom line, with the caveat that there is no such entity as the " best guitarist in the world " ( not even Jeff Beck, Roger )...EJ is absolutely the best guitarist that I have ever seen. His command of multiple styles, and other individuals' techniques, amalgemated into his own, is literally breathtaking. Johnson opened the show for the 1,100 or so, with his brazen head cutter, ZAP, then launched into his cover of Dylan's My Back Pages. Oddly enough, EJ tapped the Beatles Dear Prudence, to be another cover, as a vehicle for his wizardry, this go round. No complaints there. The sound was flawless, and literally made me feel like I was watching this at home, with a loud ass stereo.

Playing for an hour and twenty, EJ topped the pre encore set, with a 10 minute guitar solo, finished with an almost to the record, note for note rendering of his most popular song, Cliffs Of Dover. Topping off the evening were the first of 5 encores, that included two Hendrix tunes, and a tribute to EJ's friend, Stevie Ray Vaughan. Awesome.

If you eiether of these acts come through your town.....go.

Well done, Mark on your first substantive post. I liked Eric Johnson a lot and I saw him on the strength of your recommendation. My only quibble is Crown Royal and diet cola. Euyecch. Straight up is the way to go. (Ice is OK too).
The diet coke alleviates the "too much too soon" least by an extra five minutes or so.
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