His experience of over 50 years gives an insight to the growth of the blues and many of its early atrists.
But first, you will notice few photos. The place was packed and as a courtesy to the artist, no flash. Guess what, I think this was the first concert I have been to that people actually listened and didn’t try to get photos. There was that kind of reverence in the audience.
Second, I could try and give a song by song description but to me John Hammond gives you more than just blues and songs. It is an entertaining education. History coming alive.
We were ready to listen to Hammond’s stories as well as his playing. Both were entertaining.
His first song left no doubt about the energy he spends putting on his show. It was the kind of energy that went right off the stage into the audience and the crowd fed off of it.
I shared a table with three people and we passed the pre-concert time talking some music and other related topics. With the size of the crowd we were not the only people sharing table.
Hammond fills a room with his guitar and harmonica. He did some numbers by older blues artists, some household names and others not so well known.
Without a doubt there are a couple of books in Hammond’s life and his enthusiasm on stage means today’s younger artists have a good man to emulate.
One thing that really came through as he talked was his respect for these artists, one could say love for those who preceded him. Listening to the bits he mentioned between songs and as an introduction to songs was an education.
He talked about artist he met and would have liked to meet. He spoke of seeing old 8mm film taken by Sam Lay of Little Walter.
His story of what you could call his discovery by Hoyt Axton in Los Angeles put his life’s effort in perspective. Talking of Tom Waits and their work together gave another dimension to them both.
His show lasted almost 2 hours and he held the audience every minute. That is a long time for a solo act, without the benefit of other band members to give him a break. Of course his support comes in the person of his wife Marla who travels with him.
I first saw/met John Hammond (and Marla) almost 20 years ago. It is hard to believe he has been doing this over 50 years. His show is as fresh now as then and I look forward to another show in the future.
The line waiting for CDs (his 35th) afterwards was long and excited. People posed for pictures with Hammond and he was smiling all the time.
John Hammond made the night move pretty fast and I think the audience would stay another two hours listening to him play or just tell stories. He makes the history of the blues a living piece of our culture.