Since the release of his debut recording for Vanguard Records back in 1963, John Hammond, Jr. has played the blues, carrying on the tradition of his famous father, A+R man/historian/talent scout, John Hammond, Sr. The younger Hammond's work has encompassed a variety of blues styles, although he has always maintained his general focus on his distinctive interpretation of acoustic blues styles. During his career he has performed solo and has also worked with a veritable "Who's Who" in the music business including Mike Bloomfield, Dr. John, Charlie Musselwhite, Bob Dylan, John Lee Hooker and Southern blues rocker, Duane Allman. Hammond's shows are doubly entertaining because of his command of the music combined with his in depth knowledge of blues history.
Opening for John Hammond on Saturday night at The BamBoo Room in Lake Worth, Florida was Richard Gilewitz, an exceptional guitarist who demonstrated some incredible skills playing 6- and 12-string finger style guitar. Gilewitz 60+ minute set featured some of the finest live guitar that I have heard in a long time. Gilewitz performed a combination of original and cover material including songs by Jorma Kaukonen ("Embryonic Journey"), Duane Allman ("Little Martha"), John Fahey, Leo Kottke ("Sailor's Grave On The Prairie") and Michael Hedges ("Layover").
After Gilewitz groomed the gathering crowd with his remarkable set, it was time for the "Big Man," John Hammond, to take the stage. In front of a packed and extremely appreciative audience, Hammond opened with "I'm Just Your Fool" followed by a fine version of Robert Johnson's "Kind Hearted Woman." Throughout the evening, on songs like Billy Boy Arnold's "I Wish You Would," "John Lee Hooker's "Father Was A Jockey" and Willie Dixon's "Spoonful," Hammond proved himself to be a great interpreter of classic blues songs. His version of "Spoonful" was wonderfully "rough" sounding, played in a style that recalled the early sounds of rural acoustic blues. The show also included a number of songs by the great Muddy Waters. Among these were classics like "Sail On," "I Can't Be Satisfied," King Bee" and "She's Alright."
Hammond was in rare form on Saturday evening, indicating to the everyone early in his set that this would be his last show of the year and that he was going to give it up for the crowd one last time before the start of the new millennium. Every single song performed during the evening was a gem and everyone received the same enthusiastic reception from the sizable audience. The reaction of the crowd during the evening was the clear signal of an incredibly successful performance.
Residents of, and visitors to, South Florida who enjoy excellent blues would be advised to take in a show at The BamBoo Room in Lake Worth whenever possible. The fact that regular visitors, and all of the performers, rave about the club and their treatment by the courteous and professional staff seems to always result in memorable performances. To find out about upcoming shows at The BamBoo Room, check Pollstar (www.pollstar.com) or visit The BamBoo Room's website at www.bamboorm.com. In addition to the performance schedule, you can check out the virtual lounge tour and some nice performance photos from previous BamBoo Room shows.
This review is copyright © 2001 by Dave "Doc" Piltz, and Blues On Stage, all rights reserved. Copy, duplication or download prohibited without written permission. For permission to use this review please send an E-mail to Ray Stiles.