Blues by Bonamassa
By Alexis Mercer
About three years ago, I asked my parents to think about Christmas and birthday presents for my children that would be “experiences” rather than toys or things. Mostly this was selfish because I feared if I stepped on one more Lego or heard one more “kowabunga” from a battery operated Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle that I might just lose my mind. They kindly obliged, with only slight departures now and again.
So when I was thinking of what to buy my Dad for his birthday, the man who has everything, I decided I needed to reciprocate my own request.
If you know anything about my Dad, you know that he’s a blues man. I didn’t know this until after he retired as Superintendent of Schools the years following my graduation from college. I didn’t know much about him because he, like any good Dad, was afraid I would find out how fun he was and I would try to do the things he did.
One of the many hobbies of my Dad in his retirement years is playing the bass guitar. He is a certified professional bass guitarist from the world renowned Berklee College of Music in Boston. And he plays in a band. A blues band, in fact.
He and my mom traveled to Memphis one year for spring break to see how many blues bars they could frequent. And not the fancy, newfangled blues bars. But the old-school, down to Earth, biker blues bars in the middle of nowhere. They had the time of their lives.a
Knowing all of this, I realized I needed to get him tickets to hear a concert. And then I passed a billboard advertising Joe Bonamassa. Done.
Luckily for me, my Mom was going to be out of town the night of the show. So I was able to attend the concert at the DeVos Place with him. We grabbed dinner at Reserve and sat out on the street, watching the masses of Art Prize appreciators passing by. And we mosied on over to the concert hall in plenty of time to find our fourth row seats.
I had absolutely no idea what a treat I was about to experience. Joe Bonamassa is nothing short of a genius. He played and his 7 piece band played for more than 2 hours straight, only stopping so Joe could respectfully introduce each member of the band, including their accolades.
In particular, I enjoyed listening to his Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Inductee Pianist, Reese Wynans. That man can slam the ivories like something I’ve never seen.
We were close enough that I was able to observe, in complete awe, the intensity with which Bonamassa plays his guitars. Multiple guitars, mind you. I counted 9 different guitars throughout the night. He would physically vibrate while strumming the strings. Absolutely amazing.
The crowd was appreciative, respectful and inspired. Heads were moving to the beat, knees were bouncing, toes were tapping. It was the kind of music that you can feel in your bones.
While the show was a one-night-only performance, I highly recommend seeking out a show by Joe Bonamassa sometime in the future. Whether for an “experience-seeking” gift or just for the appreciation factor of fantastic music, it would be well worth your time and money.
Thanks, Dad, for teaching me to appreciate the good things in life. Blues music being one of them.
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