But Mayall wasn’t merely a spectator during the heyday of the blues. He played with legends John Lee Hooker, T-Bone Walker, and Sonny Boy Williamson on their first English club tours.
It was this reputation that evoked the first standing ovation in Kitchener, but a few minutes into the show the audience was clearly thrilled as it became obvious that Mayall is not the sort of performer to rest on reputation.
In fact, the festival provided a great showcase for the Mayall band. Other performers provided great shows highlighted by considerable talent and a distinct reverence for the blues – their fingers deftly dancing across instruments like a veneer of sparkling waves skipping across a sea of music laid down by blues masters of the past.
But Mayall’s show is far more than façade.
Drenched with emotion, talent and unrivalled experience, his persona completely saturates the performance to its considerable depths.
While others merely mimic the greats, Mayall is among them.
Mayall told Centre Stage he doesn’t care if he’s playing a major arena or an intimate theatre like Sean O’Sullivan. "As long as folks are there for a good time, it doesn’t matter to me," he said.
He’s made it clear the new band is not considered a modern version of the Bluesbreakers.
"The Bluesbreakers had been the same personnel with (guitarist) Buddy Whittington for over 20 years and it was time to retire the name just as I did when I made the Turning Point album back in 1969," he explained.
Mayall chronicled the formation of his new band by saying, "I had met and heard Rocky play at a club in Texas a few years ago. It turns out he was a close friend and neighbour of Buddy’s so I took note of his number in case there was a vacancy in my band. As for my great Chicago rhythm section, I knew Greg very well and he was also in one of my bands over 10 years ago so I'd always wanted to
have him with me and I trusted him to choose a drummer. On his recommendation, I hired Jay Davenport as they'd worked so often together. What an incredible rhythm section that turned out to be!"
The "headmaster" of the school for musicians is encouraged by the talent among today’s young blues artists.
"It does show that the blues are in good hands for the next wave of interest," he said.
And if the legendary John Mayall wasn’t enough for this evening of blues at Brock, the audience is in for a very special treat when Harrison Kennedy opens the show.
Kennedy is a veteran R&B musician who shifted his focus to country blues over the past several years.
Appearing solo at Brock, Harrison is a multi-talented performer whose considerable musical gifts are expressed through vocals, guitar, banjo, mandolin, harmonica, and percussion.
JOHN MAYALL'S BLUESBREAKERS ALUMNI
Andy Fraser FREE
Mick Taylor THE ROLLING STONES
Walter Trout Harvey Mandel CANNED HEAT
HOT TICKET EXPERIENCE - Arts.BrockU.ca
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