Jimmy Herring's band came through my neck of the woods this past Friday and played a killer set at Martyrs' in Chicago to a sold out crowd. It was a great night of music, and a great hang as well - I got to see some old friends, and my dad accompanied me to the show which is always fun (I first heard Herring back in 1992 when my dad turned me on to the first Aquarium Rescue Unit album).
With Neal Fountain on bass, Jeff Sipe on drums and Matt Slocum on keys, Herring's tight quartet delivered stunning renditions of many of his originals from both his 2008 solo debut Lifeboat, and his latest release Subject to Change Without Notice. The set also featured several great covers included Zeppelin's minor blues epic "Since I've Been Loving You" (a carry-over from previous Herring tours), and a gorgeous, lyrical take on the Beatles classic "A Day in The Life."
The band arrived in Chicago finely-honed after more than a week's worth of gigs, and they left nothing in the bag as they burned from beginning to end in what was the last show of their first tour leg of the year. Whether it was labyrinthine fusion pieces like "12 Keys," or grimy blues rockers such as "Bilgewater Blues," Herring and Co. shined with taut interplay throughout the set. As a guitarist, Herring reinforced his well-deserved reputation as one of the few players on the scene today who is equally at home in both blues-rock and heady jazz situations. He's not just a jazzer who stomps on an overdrive pedal and calls it 'fusion,' nor is he a rocker faking his way through a tough set of changes - he works in these styles authentically, peeling off both impossible outside lines and hard-hitting blues phrases with ease. For this gig, Herring played a pair of humbucker-laden strats, and a way-cool black Danelectro that provided a little extra tele-like twang. His tone, as always, was to-die-for.
Herring's bandmates were no slouches either. On the old Project Z tune "Rainbow," for example, Fountain provided a great unaccompanied intro, Slocum had a killer turn on keys, and Sipe provided a blistering drum solo for the outro that brought the house down. It was at this point that my dad turned to me with a simple two word assessment - "Holy shit."
Herring's band will be back on the road in mid-September, and will be co-headlining with Victor Wooten's band in November. See them if you can.
Follow the link below for my photos of the Chicago gig.