Review: John Mayall The Godfather of British Blues Wows Audience at The Broad Stage
When I found out John Mayall "The Godfather of British Blues" was going to be at The Broad Stage in Santa Monica on Friday, August 25, I rushed to get tickets to be in the presence of the man who directly influenced generations of the greatest musicians of all time during his impressive musical career spanning more than 50 years. What a treat it was to listen as Mayall, along with Jay Davenport on drums and Greg Rzab on bass, delivered a career retrospective with new slants and sounds to showcase his monumental life as a master of blues music.
Mayall is part of the early generation of British artists, inspired by the American blues style from Muddy Waters, Lead Belly and Big Bill Broonzy. The English blues singer, pianist, harmonica player, guitarist, and songwriter founded the band, John Mayall & the Bluesbreakers in the 1960's-a band whose members included many celebrated blues and blues rock guitarists, including Eric Clapton, Peter Green, Jack Bruce, Mick Taylor, Walter Trout, Coco Montoya and Buddy Whittington.
His special connection to Los Angeles is evident through his 1968 album, Blues from Laurel Canyon, making his concert in Santa Monica a real celebration of his new-found home and the people who share his love of the sunshine as well as the blues. After visiting our city while touring, Mayall became attracted by the West Coast climate and culture, and made his permanent move from England to Los Angeles in 1969. He then began forming bands with American musicians, with his many studio albums enthusiastically received by critics and fans alike. And at 83, John Mayall is still performing and touring tirelessly with 130 tour dates on the books for 2017.
The trio are having a great time touring together with their camaraderie evident throughout The Broad Stage concert consisting of 12 songs (and an encore) representing the many stages of Mayall's long career. In fact, he recently completed his 66th original album, Talk About That, whose title track started the show. The jazzy blues song featured Mayall on keyboards and harmonica, often and amazingly at the same time. On many of the evening's selections, Mayall played on what he called a "sawed off guitar" whose small size allowed him to simultaneously play it along with his two keyboards and harmonica. It was quite a feat of musical magic!
Other selections included Why Did You Go Last Night?, Gimme One More Day, Parchment Farm, Drifting Blues, Moving On, Another Kind of Love (which he wrote in response to his then girlfriend also having a girlfriend), Goin' Away Baby, Nature's Disappearing, Dream About the Blues, and the spectacular California which probably lasts a complete album side and featured spectacular solos by all three musicians, who then came back after thunderous applause for an encore performance of Room to Move.
The entire concert, with exquisitely colorful lighting effects, went on for almost two hours without any of the trio taking a break or even a sip of water, followed by a meet and greet by all 3 in the theater lobby. No doubt, there will be very enthusiastic responses from audiences everywhere the trio plays!
The Eli and Edythe Broad Stage, located at 1310 11th St. Santa Monica CA 90401, presented the "Godfather of British Blues," John Mayall, on Friday, August 25 at 7:30pm. Tickets ranged from $45-$150. To find out more about the 2017 tour dates and purchase tickets, visit http://www.johnmayall.com/tour.html