I know. Those of you who read Saturday Sounds are saying, “Didn’t he already do John Mayall?” The answer, of course, is “yes.” I did a preview of the show at the Bijou, along with a ticket giveaway. I promised it would be a great show and, man, was it ever. Check out that link if you missed it and would like background on John. I won’t cover the same terrain today.
If John Mayall, at 82-years-old, is diminished musically whatsoever, it was not in evidence last weekend. The Bijou was comfortably filled, though not to capacity, and the average age of the audience was not young. It was a very appreciative crowd and one that responded to his music as if they new it well.
John, for his part, held court all night long. He play harmonica. He played guitar. He played electric piano and organ. And sang while directing the band. He moved about the stage, smiling and sometimes laughing. He engaged the crowd and by turns was serious and teasing. Constantly he seemed in ecstasy and in awe of the music he’s been playing for over 50 years. If he missed a lyric it wasn’t obvious.
Opener Bill Carter who is a distant relative of the musical Carter clan served as a strong opener, gradually winning over the early crowd. He told funny stories of his years on the road. The moment he completely won over the crowd was when he played Stevie Ray Vaughn’s, “Crossfire.” Turns out he was good friends with Stevie and he actually wrote the song.
John and his band ruled the stage with Rocky Athas providing tasteful and sometimes blistering guitar. Greg Rzab played an excellent bass – particularly his stunning solo – as he has with Otis Rush, Willie Dixon, John Lee Hooker, Buddy Guy, Jimmy Page, Warren Haynes and more. Jay Davenport held down the drums as he has for Pinetop Perkins and Junior Wells, among others.
At the end of the night, it was simply a fine exhibition of how to execute the blues with tours through Mayall albums as well as detours into the catalog of that venerable musical style. As always, this dozen photographs is a small portion of those I shot. I’ll share the other several dozen on the Inside of Knoxville Facebook Page later this weekend.