B.B. King Blues Club, February 9, 2007:
I venture into Manhattan on a frigid February Friday evening, to see Johnny Winter. I am earlier than usual and get ticket number 12 to get in. I am on the guest list tonight thanks to Amanda Tropila, the new publicist for B.B. Kings. Lucille’s is unusually crowded, as Johnny Winter is still very popular. I enter at 6:00 P.M. and sit at a large table, stage center. At the table tonight we have a great group of Johnny Winter fans. There is Mike from New Rochelle, Bob and his three children: Melanie, Alex and Doug, and Bruce and Sharon. We are served tonight by Melanie who is cordial, thoughtful and warm. The food is great and the service is prompt, as usual.
At 7:30 P.M., I am pleasantly surprised as Jon Paris takes the stage. He sets up his Yamaha acoustic guitar, harmonica and vocal microphone. I recognize him immediately. I last saw him at Carnegie Hall, for Les Paul’s 90th birthday celebration. Jon led the all-star jam that hi-lighted a fantastic, once in a lifetime tribute, to an American musical genius. I was honored to sit in the front row to review a spectacular musical event and take some incredible photos of Jon Paris and all the other musical giants!
Jon Paris starts with, “Blues This Bad.” This acoustic blues is in the key of E. Jon’s vocals are strong and his harmonica is excellent. Jon’s confident demeanor enables the audience to warm up immediately. “This Ain’t The Planet I Signed Up For” is a timely theme and the storyline is the honest truth. The musical arrangement is upbeat and effective with an inventive chord melody and adamant vocal presentation. Jon’s harmonica reaches some exciting high notes to showcase his musical performance talents.
The next tune, “Lost In The Shuffle,” is a lively boogie, both strong and deliberate. The music is uplifting, kickin’ and charismatic. We are rockin’ out and the sweet harmonica tops the musical cake. The next song is a slow 12 bar blues that is prodding and emphatic. Jon sings, “I’m a wolf in sheep’s clothing… I’m hummin’ for a fox to love.” Jon’s raspy and growling vocal delivery is superior. The lyric is captivating and the ‘harp’ is on fire. What a humorous and enchanting storyline.
Stuffy Schmitt co-wrote the next tune with Jon, “‘Til I Lost You.” The strong vocal delivery is impassioned, sincere and true. The harmonica solo is enticing. “The Blues Had A Baby” is a slow swing boogie with a spirited feeling. Jon professes, “The Blues had a baby and named the baby Rock & Roll.” Sheer energy and natural charm complement a confident vocal presentation. Jon’s ‘harp’ is hot!
“Good To Go” is the last song of the set. This arrangement is lively and fun. With rhythmic stops for dynamic emphasis and contrast, this song is very engaging. I find myself stomping my left ‘hi-hat’ foot on the ones. Yep, tha’s Goooood!!
Jon Paris puts on a great set here at B.B. Kings. The more I hear and see Jon, the more I appreciate his continuing contribution to today’s creative musical scene.
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