Sponsor of the Newport Jazz Festival

img 8058 1The 64th annual Newport Jazz Festival at Fort Adams State Park is the international highlight of the year for jazz enthusiasts. It continues to be sponsored by Nataxis Investment Managers. George Weins's creation of this historic music icon has influenced jazz musicians and aficionados around the world. The lineup of artists was far and wide in reflecting the soul of jazz in full Wein style. Jazz means "I Dare You." georgeweincharleslloyd2018

On a sticky, almost airless Sunday evening, two amazing musicians and their bands came to the Hampton Beach Casino Ballroom in New Hampshire and performed for ninety minutes each to a packed house.


Up first was the incomparable, quintessential blues singer, Beth Hart and her band, who took to the stage amidst thunderous applause and explosive cheers from ravenous fans. Whether she's behind the keyboard or holding a mic, the beautiful and extremely talented Ms. Hart sings impressively and with immense passion, just as if there is no one in the room, but you and her.  From the sultry (almost kitten-ishly playful), If I Tell You I Love You (a Joe Bonamassa/Beth Hart hit from the album Seesaw) to the song "‘Written for her Momma" Baddest Blues, the singer/songwriter played and sung with extreme passion and spirit.

 

It's no wonder why, despite the deep crisis of the music business and the constant struggling for many music genres to survive in such a troubled artistic world, the Blues keeps on going against all odds. This is not just something related to the United States, where historically there has always been a strong, countrywide legacy between musicians and this genre that has allowed (and still going) the Blues baton to be carried for several generations but also to many more parts of the world.

Europe, for instance, in the last 50-odd years, has gifted this ultra-centenary genre with some incredible artists like Rory Gallagher, John Mayall, Peter Green, Alexis Korner, Jeff Beck and Eric Clapton, just to mention few of them. There are numerous Blues associations around the world doing a magnificent job by keep on spreading the word of Blues to old and new fans but very few do so as well as the European Blues Union. In the last 7 years (including this), the EBU has felt increasingly the need to create a chain around the whole of Europe between musicians, a new breed of artists that would be carrying the Blues message to the next generations.

(Photo by Laurence Harvey)

 

Often we hear of tragic tales related to music business, where fine and talented artists reach an unexpected tragic destiny in a premature stage of their lives and careers. Rather fortunately though, for the 70-years old British rocker Wilko Johnson, those tragic tales have taken a positive reverse. After surviving a strenuous battle against cancer, the musician from Canvey Island is gradually refueling his energy tank and watching him performing a special concert at that breathtakingly beautiful venue that is the Royal Albert Hall in London, to celebrate the 30th anniversary of his activity with the Wilko Johnson Band, was a very emotional experience.

Preceded by a rather entertaining, although sweary performance by the always outrageous, post-modern poet John Cooper Clarke, the guitarist and his two music compadres, Norman Watt-Roy on bass and Dylan Howe on drums enter stage at 21.40 sharp, impeccably dressed, with Johnson showing great determination and concentration since the first notes of the opening song of the night.

One of the greatest thing about music is that it can feels any space, thanks to its power, no matter the size of the venue. When some concerts take place in more intimate and cozy venues, like at The Railway Inn and in that splendid city of the south of

 England that is Winchester, they even become more memorable and joyous, both for the audience and the artist himself.

The artist in question tonight is one of Bluebird Reviews old friends and one of the finest English artists and performers, Big Boy Bloater. His current album, Luxury Hobo, is one of the best selling albums not just in the United Kingdom but also in several parts of Europe and tonight, the British singer/songwriter is here with his band The Limits to perform in a venue very close to his heart.

In a time of the world where words like "connection" and "spiritual" assume an increasingly lesser significance for the current generations of music fans, there is still someone that, fortunately, give to those words the importance they deserve. The New York powerhouse and singer/songwriter Sari Schorr likes to put such words together in her music vocabulary, especially when it comes to describe properly her relationship with British audiences.

 

A special bond that emerges once again tonight, in the South-East of Great Britain at The West End Center in Aldershot, a military town where Schorr ends the UK leg of her European Tour in support of her debut album, A Force Of Nature. The intimate venue in the county of Hampshire seems to be the ideal location to conclude Schorr's UK Tour. The American artist, always keen to create a connection with her fans, seems very relaxed tonight and the warm welcome of the crowd, when Schorr and her band, The Engine Room, come on stage, helps even further the singer/songwriter to break the ice in no time.

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                                                                                                      (Photo by John Bull)

 

 

It has been a very successful year, professionally, for the L.A. singer and songwriter Beth Hart. Still fresh from the successful 2015 album Better Than Home, this powerhouse artist has just released a brand new album in Europe called Fire On The Floor, an album that has been welcomed by unanimous appreciation both from her fans and the music press. The album, which will be released in early 2017 in the States, is Hart's personal masterpiece to date, thanks to a fabulous alchemy of deep, intense songwriting, perfectly balanced musical arrangements and Hart's irresistible singing style.

Beth Hart has been and still is on a sort of Neverending Tour, in-between the Better Than Home and the Fire On The Floor albums. Among the many places in the world where the Californian artist is highly respected and loved, the United Kingdom has had, in the last three or four years, a fast-growing love, respect and appreciation for Hart's intensity, passion, disarming honesty and insanely great talent.

We catch Beth Hart live in London, on the last night of the UK leg of the Tour, who has recorded an impressive series of sold-out concerts, night after night throughout the whole country. When the lights go down, at 8.30pm sharp, Hart surprises the whole crowd by entering gently the Hall from the stalls, rather than the stage, on the notes of Billie Holiday's classic Don't Explain.

Judging from the initial ovation tributed to Hart's entrance, it is very clear that the crowd is expecting a pyrotechnical performance from the American artist tonight. The warmth coming from the very excited London crowd might have been, perhaps, a bit too overwhelming for this incredible singer/songwriter, creating inadvertantly a little backfiring effect. Beth Hart shows some initial tension in the first half hour of the show, maintaining her powerful voice at a much lower level, compared to what her fans are used to listen to, on songs like If I Tell You I Love You and Can't Let Go.

Once the L.A. artist starts to loosen up, the quality of her performance goes up three notches, showing why Beth Hart is so much loved and respected by so many people of different age ranges around the world. She can become on stage either the hottest rock chick in town, when she delivers the foot-stomping new song Fat Man (dedicated ironically to the new U.S. President) or be the tenderest, most passionate human being on Earth, when she opens up the deepest chords of her tormented soul in the irresistible 4-songs sequence of St. Theresa, Good Day To Cry, Sister Heroine and Leave The Light On.

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                                                                                             (Photo by Laurence Harvey)

 

There is nothing that can stop Beth Hart from this point on tonight's show. The crowd is visibly on her feet and the American singer/songwriter keeps the momentum of the night high by bringing the show to the end with a musical knock-out with Delicious Surprise and the splendid Tell Her You Belong To Me.

But the night is not quite over yet. The crowd screams incessantly for more and Beth Hart is not certainly somebody that pulls back, when it comes to return all the passion that she has received tonight by the Royal Festival Hall's full house. The new album title-track Fire On The Floor sees perhaps the best vocal performance of the artist on the night, to the point that she receives another standing ovation by the whole house. Mama, This One's For You, dedicated to Hart's mother DorothyLee, creates the perfect platform to close the show with a spectacular cover version of  Etta Jame's I'd Rather Go Blind, Hart's closing signature piece of her shows of the last 3-4 years.

An irresistible performance from one of the most talented and skilled artist of this generation, even despite the shaky start of tonight's show. It must be the magic of Xmas approaching, because the Londoners have witnessed, tonight, the only flying-indoor comet they are ever likely to see in their lives. That comet is called Beth Hart.  

 

 

 

Giovanni "Gio" Pilato

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