With St. Patrick’s Day barely erased from my mind, it was time to switch gears and catch some outstanding Blues in Rochester, NY. Yeh, Rochester the one time home to Son House, current home of Joe Beard, and the Xerox Rochester International Jazz Fest, hopefully one day will embrace the Blues heritage it possesses.
Opening for Joe Louis was local Rochester Bluesman, Mr. Steve Grills. With his band The Roadmasters they feature old school Blues that harkens back to the days when sound, not power were the rulers of the guitar blues. Straight-up shuffles to slow burning desirous pleas, from Freddie King and Earl Hooker influenced riffs with strong vocals Steve Grills is the real deal and Rochester is blessed to have him here. There is not a band here who would have been a better choice to open for Joe Louis Walker.
Joe Louis Walker marries rock and blues together and produces a beautiful child of substance that is at one older than the years yet as new as each dawn. A flawless guitar master, Mr. Walker can give you what you want with out you knowing that you want it. His is equally adept at the T-Bone Walker jump blues, to rocking out with a Stones inspired “Black Girls”, and all points in between.
His version of “I Don’t Sing For Free” brought gospel feeling to what has become the anthem for musicians everywhere. Setting up the song with vocal harmonies from Bertha Blades and other band members they took the song to church and made believers of us all. Ms. Blades is a stunning vocalist, powerful, energized and engaging she provides the counter point to Mr. Walker’s somewhat laid back style, plus they work so well off each others energy that it is contagious.
Mr. Walker was both professional, friendly and gracious as he allowed Mr. Blades to front the band on two numbers which showcased her ability to sing and deliver a song. Mr. walker did the same for his guitar partner Mr. Murali Coryell. Murali is the son of one of the most influential guitar players ever, Mr. Larry Coryell. Murali brought us tot he house of funk with his “A Minor Funk” from his latest release “Sugar Lips” and then switched gears with a slow deeply emotional “I Could’ve of Had You”. Thank you Joe for allowing us to see these fine artists in their own right, it is a tribute to your excellence that they play alongside of you.
It was the band’s last night of the tour in support of Joe ‘s new release “Hellfire” and they were relaxed and in a fine state of mind. Bertha’s family came to the show and it was great to see them support her as well as the rest of the band. Joe took the time to meet and greet them after the show giving hugs all around, love was in the air and we were thrilled to be part of it all.
Until next time,
Love, Peace & Chicken Grease
photos: Leslie K. Joseph