Monday, August 17, 2009

Hot August Blues - August 15 - Cockeysville, MD

This one day festival has been happening for many years now, we went about 10 years ago and had a great time so I thought I would cruise up to Cockeysville and check out the 2009 edition. It was well under way by the time I arrived, but I got to see three fine bands. The first was Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit . Jason used to write songs and play with the Drive-By Truckers, he left that band in 2007. The 400 Unit played mostly original songs that at times sounded like Mountain, the Heartbreakers, or classic southern rock. But I was most impressed by their cover of "Into the Mystic" a simply great Van Morrison song. I liked these guys and they brought a lot of energy to the stage.

They were followed by Joe Bonamossa, an American born blues guitar player who was mentored as a kid by the legendary Danny Gatton. He wails on the guitar and did an excellent set, including "Had to Cry Today" and "Further on Up the Road". I liked the way he would walk off the stage and down the grass embankment and play guitar right in front of the crowd. And it was a big crowd there to see him, lots of folks wearing Joe Bonamossa t-shirts. He also did a couple of nice acoustic pieces.

Finally, headlining the festival was the Derek Trucks Band and they rocked us into the evening. For those of you that don't know, Derek Trucks is the nephew of one of the original Allman Brothers drummers (Butch Trucks) and he is now the slide guitar player in that venerable band. Derek is only 30 years old, but just like Joe Bonamossa he started impressing folks with his talent at a very early age. He was sitting in with Buddy Guy at age 12, started this band at age 15, and by age 20 he was officially enlisted in the Allman Brothers. He's also married to Susan Tedeschi who is a talented guitar player herself.

Saturday's night performance was a good mix of blues, jazzy numbers and extended jams. Derek's slide work is exceptional and at times certainly reminiscent of Duane Allman. Like Carlos Santana, Derek doesn't sing, instead he has a vocalist (Mike Mattison) who handles that job. Joe Bonamossa came out and jammed with them on one song and that was fun. But as we were listening I commented to a friend, the problem with a Derek Trucks show is that he doesn't have a deep catalog of songs from which to choose. We'll see Derek again in October with the Allman Brothers Band, and they have a very deep catalog, which I suspect will make it more entertaining. But I'm not complaining, I like listening to DTB and it was an enjoyable show.

A couple of notes on the Festival, this was their first ever sell out, and I believe that was because the parking lot couldn't accommodate any more cars. The lines for food and drink were way too long and as was the line of cars leaving the parking lot after the show. But I think that this is a great festival and the promoter will address these issues. (In fact a few days after the show I received an email from them asking for my feedback). Looking forward to next year's Hot August Blues.

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