John Mayall was kind of a tool the last time I met him, but given his legendary status and all I decided to give him a second chance when he returned to Milestones on Saturday, September 10.
Mayall's band, The Bluesbreakers, was mirror-slick and totally in the pocket. It was Bluesbreaker guitarist Buddy Whittington (who replaced Coco Montoya in the band in 1993) who particularly shined. The Dallas native crosscut and twanged tight atop the band's solid groove before Mayall took the stage. Mayall focused mainly on material from his latest album Road Dogs and shifted easily from harp to electric piano to one of those ridiculous looking stick guitars --- I don't care if Johnny Winter plays one, they look stupid.
Mayall was a whole white generation's intro to the blues and he proved why to a packed, thrilled, white house. Though his blues are a little safe these days, the groove is solid and the vibe still righteous.
Paulie Rocco warmed up the joint --- just him and his Firebird and the blues. Rocco bleeds passion and soul and surprised the crowd who initially didn't know what to make of a longhaired cat diggin' from the Delta to Chi-town... to Ireland. I mean, when's the last time anyone played Rory Gallagher on stage in Rochester?
Later that night The Franks (best band name in the world) played a set of new music off their yet untitled album at the Bug Jar. Dan Frank is a garage rock cat through and through and seeing him on stage with big rock powerhouse drummer John Campbell is a study in an intermusical marriage. It's funny to watch the band color outside the lines a little, especially when Campbell throws in some Filthy Phildouble kick.
And though loud 'n' bluesy show openers (and Chesterfield King protégés, or how about Chesterfield Princes?) St. Phillip's Escalator are fairly derivative, they are one of the fresher and more exciting bands in town right now. Maybe I'm just excited when kids rock out like Blue Cheer and The MC-5. SPE looks the part, too, all stove-piped and shaggy.
Monday night --- the night when only the hardcores make it out of their caves --- Seattle's The Makers returned with Blüdwülf and The UV Rays. Though touting a new record, The Makers played a set of mostly classic tunes that spanned their 15-year career. The audience was a little light but the band rocked enthusiastically with frontman Michael Maker morphing between Tom Jones and Tina Turner and Prince. Face it, the man is pretty and he knows it. As Little Richard used to say; he ain't conceited, he's convinced.
Blüdwülf warmed up the night with dual dueling guitars that were so friggin' loud the bass was completely buried. The UV Rays teetered on the brink of maybe being a little too drunk and they played a slightly mellower --- if that's possible --- set. The whole lot of them bob, bound, stagger, and fall on stage as if they're playing on a ship during a storm.
This past Saturday night I got to catch Footage for the first time. This band has some really well written indie-ish tunes. They are in essence a pop band without the frosting. The edgy guitars countered the melody and the band's casual charm. Usually when I see a Flying V on stage I expect crazier shit, like Michael Schenker or something. I was pleasantly surprised and entertained. Can't wait to hear more from this band.