Joe Bonamassa Brings the Blues to the Land of Jazz

Kansas City is known for many things: fountains, BBQ, Patrick Mahomes (go Chiefs!), and Jazz. The jazz district is famous through the music community, through film, and song. Bonamassa tipped his hat to the famed 18th and Vine district with Kansas City playing on record after the lights dimmed.

The New York born singer-guitarist took the stage, with a full band backing, jumping right into Evil Mama, before seamlessly transitioning into Just Cause you Can, and King Bee Shakedown. Things moved at such a fevered pace, Bonamassa had little time to rest between songs, and the audience had little time to applaud; after the end of the first three, he was greeted with a spontaneous standing ovation which lasted for a good minute.

All musicians have a passion for their art, but there’s a certain magic that comes from watching a Blues guitarist wailing on a hollow body Gibson. While musicians of other genres might play with the crowd, and try to impress with their virtuosity that way, Blues and Jazz greats become entrenched in their own world, with precision focus that is nothing short of inspiring to see. Bonamassa does not disappoint here, he brings precision, mastery and focus to his art, and music is elevated because of it.

With a hotbed of activity in Kansas City that night, with many entertainment options, and the Power & Light District popping as much as it could be late on a Saturday, the Midland had a packed house.

Though known for his guitar work, Joe’s vocal prowess is equally incredible. With a sultry rasp, and power, he delivers a powerful, emotional performance on songs like If Heartaches were Nickels. I’m personally a greater fan of these types of numbers, than faster pace ones. It really does evoke memories of BB, Muddy, or Led Belly…and gives the type of mood one would expect from the blues. The only thing missing is cigar smoke.

The blues is about as traditional American music as you can get, and while there are many practitioners, and many clubs through KC and Memphis alone, Bonamassa stands in a class of his own. Equal parts singer, guitarist, songwriter, and storyteller, Joe delivers a powerhouse performance which would make BB proud.

Words and Photos by Josh Chaikin

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