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James Taylor and Bonnie Raitt make a pretty good pair at PPG Paints Arena

on July 16, 2017 No comments


Scott Mervis / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

James Taylor gives a thumbs up to the crowd as he walks on stage.Saturday, July 15, 2017 at PPG Paints Arena in Uptown. Bonnie Raitt performed before Taylor. © Rebecca Droke /Post-Gazette

“You’re still sexy!”

It was just a lone voice from the crowd, directed not at New Kids on the Block — that was two weeks ago — but James Taylor, who brought a churning urn of burning funk to the PPG Paints Arena on Saturday night.

The set-up for that come-on was Taylor backing the song “Sunny Skies” with a video of him frolicking around with lovable pug.

“Shameless footage of a dog,” he said in his wry manner. “When you give up on sexy, you gotta go cute.”

Apparently, he doesn’t have to give up on sexy completely. James Taylor, at 69, can still woo fans with those tender folk/pop songs, just sitting on a stool in the middle of an arena picking an acoustic guitar.

Those were just a few parts of the show, although that’s the image most people have of his concerts. When I told someone I was going to see James Taylor, he said, “Why, are you not sleeping well lately?”

JT and his crack 10-piece band do plenty to keep us awake. In fact, by the end, he had his crowd (of about 7,000) up and dancing like it was a wedding.

The first thing Taylor did to keep people alert was to bring along Bonnie Raitt, whom he stepped out to introduce as “my favorite singer in the world.”

Bonnie Raitt performes … Saturday, July 15, 2017 at PPG Paints Arena in Uptown. © Rebecca Droke /Post-Gazette

If you just saw Bonnie Raitt walking down the street, you’d probably think she looks pretty cool. Accessorize her with a beat-up Strat and she enters an almost untouchable realm of cool. With her red hair and that shock of white, she stands on stage like a queen — upright and poised — and plays slide guitar like a devil. Over her 45-year Rock and Roll Hall of Fame career, she’s demonstrated time again that she can trade licks with anybody. She continues to do it now with another skilled player in George Marinelli, from blazing solos to slow burners.

She packed a lot of greatness into her hour with staples like “Something to Talk About” and her stunning cover of John Prine’s “Angel From Montgomery,” which she dedicated to the millions of women in the world who don’t enjoy the freedoms and choices that American women do.

After the lovely “Take My Love With You,” she said “Nothing like a sweet one…followed by a sour one,” leading her into a fiery “Spit of Love” with one of her meanest jams.

She has swagger to burn. In her cover of INXS’s “Need You Tonight,” she sang, “There’s something about you, baby …. that makes me sweat,” at which point she stopped for a second to glare at the audience. You had to be there to feel it.

At the piano, she took “Nick of Time” to church with gospel singer Arnold McCuller from JT’s band. “It’s a song I wrote when it was 39 and worried about turning 40,” she said. “It’s funny to think about that now.” The 67-year-old guitarist said that when she was carousing with the old blues guys all those years ago, “I never thought I’d still be here now.” We’re lucky to have her.

She ended her set with Taylor back for a rousing duet on John Hiatt’s “Thing Called Love” with three guitars flaring.

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Review: James Taylor, Bonnie Raitt dazzle Tanglewood crowd

on July 5, 2017 No comments

 

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James “Hutch” Hutchinson – Groove Royalty

on May 18, 2017 No comments

James “Hutch” Hutchinson is respected far and wide for his musical versatility and long experience playing with top-tier acts. After taking some classes at the Berklee College of Music while gigging in bands around Boston, the 17 year old decided to head out west to the San Francisco Bay Area.  He jumped at opportunities to play on sessions with Link Wray’s band and with Grateful Dead drummer Mickey Hart which lead to an opportunity to join the Quicksilver Messenger Service spin-off Copperhead, all this before he turned 20 years old.

When their album failed to find an audience the band broke up and Hutch left for Guatemala for what he expected to be just a three week visit. Three weeks turned into a year which allowed Hutch to immerse himself in Latin American culture and rhythms. Returning to the US with his Latin Jazz Fusion band The Point, Hutch got an offer to play in The Neville Brothers Band. While playing with the Neville Brothers he was introduced to Bonnie Raitt and in 1983 moved to Los Angeles to join her band after her original bassist dropped out right before she was scheduled to go on tour.

In the intervening 30 plus years, Hutch has made significant contributions to Bonnie’s sound and has co-written some of her tunes along the way. In an interview with Bass Player Magazine Hutch recalls, “Bonnie calls me her ‘musical ranger’ because I bring in all of these different influences. It’s not just that I’ve listened well and learned to play different styles, it’s that I’ve spent time living and working with the players in those communities. There are musicians in various parts of the world—blues players, country guys, even African musicians—who think of me as their style of musician. They may not even be aware of other styles I play.”

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