Jay Gordon Ignites Fire & Brimstone into the Blues

     On Day #2 of the Crossroads Guitar Festival, Jay Gordon ignited the day with the opening performance at 10 a.m. Those who were ready to rock were treated to an awesome show. As soon as Jay and his bandmates began with "Big Boss Man," the stage was set for rockin'. With John Schayer playing his Hendrix-handed bass of a custom-colored familiar shade of pink and Rick Daly hard-rocking his drumkit, the trio moved easily into "Hootchie Cootchie Man." Their interpretations of these blues standards coaxed more festival goers to the Ernie Ball Stage.

     Attired in black leather and suede, Jay and his Fender strat created metallic blues. Their third song, "Blacktop Alley," is an original work off Jay's Electric Zydeco album with awesome guitar highlights. Jay's first album, Blues Infested, produced the fourth and sixth songs for the concert. By the time he belted out "Can't Shake This Feeling," the audience wasn't leaving.

     Another original from his 6-String Outlaw album, the "Fire & Brimstone Boogie" lived up to its title's reputation. Plus, it was unique and exhilarating at the same time. All the while, John and Rick are playing fabulous blues bass riffs and double bass drum thunder support. This is definitely a power trio. The audience felt as if they were at an outdoor, evening fiery, blues concert and here it was not even noon in the morning!

     Jay literally slid into his fourth original of the performance with "Voodoo Boogie," using slide guitar with glistening leads. The band next covered "Stranger Blues," which they rejuvenated. Their last song was the best rendition of "Mustang Sally" I've heard in a long time! Jay's vocals are vibrant and intense.

     His website outlines his accomplishments and honors. More importantly, his performance validates these glows. I'm now a fan and I look forward to hearing him play again.


James Young, Tommy Shaw & STYX Flood the Esplanade with Rock and Are Joined by White-Collar Man, Jeff "Skunk" Baxter

     With temporary steps leading into the dry fountain areas, a large stage at least 75x40 erected 6 feet above the concrete, and 50 foot colorful banners as a backdrop, the Esplanade area of Fair Park was set for major concert events. Enter STYX and the area is flooded with classic rock and awesome sound! Having witnessed Styx twice before in concert in 2001 and 2003, I expected and received a dynamic opening sound.

     Then, majestic and tall James Young, who is officially known as J.Y., takes center stage with the appropriate Fender strat and begins a phenomenal rendition of Hendrix's "Voodoo Child" including the vocals and the crowd goes wild! Tommy Shaw, with a collection of Gibsons, and Ricky Phillips, with powerful hardrocking bass leads, also remind the crowd that they're at a GUITAR festival.

     For their next song, the Beatles' "I am a Walrus" had the Esplanade cuckoo-a-chooing with the crowd dancing and singing. In a serious tone, Tommy speaks to the crowd. "When we recorded this next song, it was sort of against drugs.... It's now appropriate for the theme of this weekend. 'Snow Blind'" With Dennis DeYoung's strong lyrical voice and the reinforcement of Todd Sucherman's drumming the quintet's great sound is complete.

     More classic Styx songs continue to fill the beautiful morning air with rock. The program schedule suggests the appearance of a surprise guest, so when Jeff "Skunk" Baxter is introduced, the synergistic effect of another awesome guitarist is wonderful. Ironically, in this reporter's opinion, playing "Blue Collar Man," was a creative touch. (Presently, Jeff is a defense analyst and consultant to Congressman on military defense, an unusual role for the rock and roll legendary guitarist from the Doobie Brothers and Steely Dan.)

     Styx's hour long time allotment just barely whetted the outdoor audience's appetite. The band was a hearty appetizer for the next course of metal guitarists.


Luther Tatum Provides a Slide Guitar Clinic

     While Styx rounds out the second half of their set, Luther Tatum begins his slide guitar clinic inside on the Ernie Ball stage. He takes the stage solo at 11:30 a.m. and gives an excellently balanced program of demonstration, concert pieces, fielding questions, and performing a one man show. Performing with a classic Fender guitar, he has captured the guitar's golden opportunity to inspire the listener.

     Luther is an expert on the slide guitar and the inventor of the "BIg Heart Slide." But, what the audience may not have known is that he is multitalented. He also plays banjo, which is a whole different action than guitar. And, his tickling of the ivories on keyboards, is reputed to be just plain awesome.

     Luther was referenced by several artists over the weekend. His reputation preceded him, brought him an invitation to Crossroads, and his slide clinic will enhance his reputation and enrich the attendees of his workshop after the festival.


Metal "Shredders for a Reason" - Tony Franklin, Greg Koch, George Lynch

     They are called "shredders" for a reason and that's their introduction as well. With bass guitarist Tony Franklin and Greg Koch standing in on lead guitar, Todd Sucherman, from Styx, assumes another position- house band drummer. And, you'd think they had played together before by the sounds of the heavy duty metal coming from the speaker cabinets! After they thrash some powerful playing, Tony invited questions from the audience.

     "After all, this is supposed to be a clinic." When asked what it was like being able to play in a band with Paul Rodgers, he's a bit surprised and gently responds that it was "cool" to play with Paul. The questioner was referring to when Tony was a member of The Firm, which also included guitar god, Jimmy Paige. Perhaps, the person asking the question already had heard the answer to what it was like to play with such an icon as the Led Zep guitarist.

     With Greg Koch and Tony bookending Fender guitar leads- yes, Tony's doing that on a bass- the newly created metal trio jams and empowers the audience. Since Greg is "standing in as part of the house band" for now, he allows Tony to shine. They announce that their first song is called, "Knuckle Shredders" which is a reasonable title for metal guitarists. The second song is titled, "Closer"- both are exceptionally brilliant.

     Having donned my autographed Lynch Mob T-shirt for the occasion and feeling disappointed that George is not on stage, I mistakenly believe that George will not be playing and be included with two other metal shredders who were "no shows" on Friday. As I headed into Centennial Hall to return to the stages to catch Luther Tatum's clinic, a total George Lynch fan eyeing my shirt excitedly asks if I know if George is going to appear.

     We reminisced about George's significant role in Dokken and his second famous band's metamorphosis from metal to almost rap to solid metal, again. When I return outside and ask one of the Crossroads' crew if George is going to be playing, to what does my wondering ears and eyes appear, but George playing solo wailing guitar riffs on stage!

     George is in powerfully good physical shape and dressed for success in an almost muscle guitar god shirt with "Community College of Gary, Indiana" displayed in bold lettering . His stage presence is calm, tempered, and humbled- countered by his stupendous squealing shredding, playing his trademark tiger-striped ESP guitar. He is receptive to audience questions and ad-libs for time while the amplification system is reconnected.

     Did George blow the amp? No, he didn't have enough playing time in to do that! As soon as everything is working again, he resumes his powerful solo performance and I'm glad I proudly displayed my Lynch mob shirt.

     George later had a long line of loyal and new loyal fans at his meet and greet session. Young and old were eager to congratulate him on his performance. He spent quality moments with each person, posed agreeably for snapshots with a manager's Polaroid, and was humbly pleased to know that he had a number of fans in the large crowd at the festival. I had photos for him from his concert tour with Yngwie when he played in Virginia and the Thunderdome in Baltimore, Maryland, which he genuinely appreciated.

RockonTour   Issue #34
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Guitar Clinic 101: an introduction to the Blues
An enjoyable Saturday at the Crossroads Guitar Festival

by Susan Bardenhagen