Thursday, May 12, 2016

The Rides at B.B. King's Blues Club & Grill

Stephen Stills
Stephen Stills was pivotal to Buffalo Springfield, Crosby, Stills & Nash, and Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, and also played briefly with a band called Manassas in 1972, but much of his 50+ years in music were playing as a solo artist. In 2013, he decided to fulfill a long desire to record a blues album, and began jamming with keyboardist Barry Goldberg, a founder of the Electric Flag blues band in 1967 and a studio musicians for the past 50 years. In time, they recruited guitarist Kenny Wayne Shepherd, a solo artist and winner of multiple prestigious music awards, with whom Stills had initially jammed at a private party before the 2007 Super Bowl. The Rides' second album, Pierced Arrow, was released May 6, 2016.

Stills is the better known name of the quintet, which included bassist Kevin McCormick and drummer Chris Layton, but Shepherd might have stolen the show tonight at B.B. King's Blues Club & Grill. Stills sang many songs with dynamic passion but limited range, while Shepherd's vocals were smoother and varied. Stills played a fine blues guitar, but Shepherd's fingers were acrobatic on his fret board. Sometimes they harmonized vocals or guitars, successfully making musical cohesion the optimum objective. The set included many songs composed by and for the Rides, but also included Stills' "Love the One You're With," Shepherd's "Blue on Black," and a slow burning version of Goldberg's hit for Gladys Knight & the Pips, "I've Got to Use My Imagination." The set also included covers of Elmore James' "Talk to Me Baby," Willie Dixon's "My Babe," and puzzlingly, Iggy Pop & the Stooges' "Search and Destroy." The encores ended with Neil Young's "Rockin' in the Free World." The Rides' set was a down-to-earth yet polished jam that highlighted the talents of each member, and that alone was worth a visit.

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