Legendary Guitarist Joe Bonamassa Brings The Blues To Charlotte’s Belk Theater
US Spring Tour Is The Guitar Event Of The Year
Nobody plays the blues quite like Joe Bonamassa and Monday evening he wowed the capacity crowd at the Blumenthal Performing Arts Center in Uptown Charlotte. With its outstanding acoustics and not a bad seat in the house, the elegant Belk Theater was the perfect choice for a concert that would indeed go down as The Guitar Event Of The Year.
Singer, songwriter, and blues-rock guitarist extraordinaire, Bonamassa is a living legend. The Utica, New York native got his start early at the young age of four and had a professional career by the age of 12 when he opened for the one and only B.B. King. He also had his own band Smokin’ Joe Bonamassa which allowed him to play gigs in the western New York and Pennsylvania area.
In 2000, Bonamassa would release his debut solo album A New Day Yesterday and has since released numerous studio and live albums including 2018’s Redemption and 2019’s Live at the Syndey Opera House and even has his own independent record label J & R Adventures. In addition to touring the world and performing with a virtual who’s who list of legendary musicians, Bonamassa has had successful collaborations with Beth Hart and even landed a Grammy nomination for Best Blues Album in 2013 for their Seesaw album. Joe is also the lead guitarist for the hard rock supergroup Black Country Communion and is also a member of the jazz-funk band Rock Candy Funk Party. In fact, just today Joe revealed a brand new project called The Sleep Eazys and their full-length instrumental album Easy To Buy, Hard To Sell. The band is comprised of Joe and his all-star touring band along with Jimmy Hall and John Jorgenson. The album serves as a tribute to one of Joe’s biggest mentors, the late guitarist Danny Gatton and covers a variety of genres from jazz and funk to bluegrass and rockabilly. The first single “Bond (On Her Majesty’s Secret Service)” pays homage to the 1969 classic action film. You can pre-order the album here:https://shop.jbonamassa.com/collections/sleep-eazys.
On To The Show!
Due to potential traffic woes surrounding a visit by President Trump not too far from the theater, I headed out to the venue earlier than usual. This gave me a chance to chat with fans who had already gathered outside Belk Theater and get acquainted. It’s always fun to find out how far someone had come and how many times they have seen the artist. The big talk of the evening was surrounding an upcoming performance at the iconic Red Rocks Amphitheater and many were discussing making the trip. Once doors opened and we made our way through security, there was a mad dash to the merchandise table to check out the blue shirt that we had seen through the glass doors prior to entering. As the crowd began to file in, there was a definite rush of excitement in the air and the crowd was pumped up and ready to see the legend in action.
The venue lights dimmed and after a short announcement, it was finally showtime! Joe came out with his band of absolutely stellar musicians, all legends themselves, and said he was going to start things off with a little Muddy Waters. All of a sudden, red and white lights dazzled across the stage and the theater was transformed into a juke joint as everyone was bopping along to “Tiger In Your Tank.” What a way to start off the night! And believe me, when I say, things only got better from there. From “Evil Mama” to “King Bee Shake Down,” Bonamassa and company were at the top of their game. Bonamassa had us rocking, dancing, and crying the blues all night long. The night was full of highs and lows as we rode the train that Joe was conducting with his Les Paul Burst and nobody was stopping to get off.
Bonamassa’s touring band is simply one of the best in the world, period and end of the story. Gracing the stage along with Joe was drummer Anton Fig who we all know from his years on Late Night with David Letterman and Musicians Hall of Famer Michael Rhodes on bass. None other than Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Reese Wynans was on keyboards and was inducted as part of Stevie Ray Vaughan & Double Trouble. The incredible horn section consists of Lee Thornburg on trumpet who played with everyone from Power of Tower to Chicago and one of the best saxophonists on the planet, Paulie Cerra. Rounding things out are the lovely and talented singers Jade MacRae and Juanita Tippins.
Joe took some time to thank the Charlotte crowd for coming out and for supporting him for all these years. He mentioned playing at the iconic Double Door Inn back in the day and when everyone cheered Joe asked what they were yelling for. “You weren’t there, There were only four people at that show. I brought more guitars with me than people showed up.” Everyone laughed and by tying in a bit of Charlotte’s history, Joe gave the audience something special to remember the night. Other highlights of the set were the iconic “Blues of Desperation” and the set closer where Joe surprised us with a cover of ZZ Top’s “Just Got Paid” as he urged everyone to get on their feet as the crowd rocked it out.
With no opening act, it was two hours of non-stop entertainment from one of the very best blues-rock players you will ever see, but it wasn’t over yet. Joe came out for “Woke Up Dreaming” which quite simply will blow your mind as fans screamed “Joe! Joe!” and “Thank you, Joe!.” He then treated us to one more story as he spoke about one of his biggest mentors, songwriter Will Jennings who wrote the song. A funny story was shared in which Will told Joe he wrote a little song for a movie about a boat that some Canadian girl was going to sing so he could retire. Of course, he was talking about “My Heart Will Go On” from the movie Titanic which was performed by Canadian songstress Celine Dion. Bonamassa closed out the night with one of his most loved songs, also written with Will, and gave us all a little “Mountain Time” before we all headed home.
The evening was spectacular with a once in a lifetime performance by the legend. Do not miss your chance to see Joe Bonamassa when his tour rolls through your neck of the woods. It truly is the guitar event of the year.
For tour and ticket information, go to www.jbonamassa.com/tourdates.
For information on all things Joe Bonamassa, go to www.jbonamassa.com