The BCT Music Series is proud to present Grammy award-winning blues musician John Hammond live in concert at 8 p.m. Monday, Feb. 28, at Boise Contemporary Theater, 854 Fulton St., Boise.
Tickets are $30 general or $50 for VIP package including premium seating and meet-and-greet artist reception with Hammond. Tickets are available through bctheater.org/musicseries.php and the Boise Contemporary Theater box office.
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Bill Coffey with Thomas Paul will open the show. Coffey and Paul will play a stripped-down acoustic set of original songs, including material from Coffey’s new full-length album. Those recordings, featuring Paul on guitar and backing vocals, are due out this spring. (See below for more info on Bill Coffey.)
With a career spanning over three decades, John Hammond (johnhammond.com) is one of a handful of white blues musicians who was on the scene at the beginning of the first blues renaissance of the mid-’60s. Some critics have described Hammond as a white Robert Johnson, and Hammond does justice to classic blues bysd combining powerful guitar and harmonica playing with expressive vocals and a dignified stage presence.
Within the first decade of his career as a performer, Hammond began crafting a niche for himself that is completely his own: the solo guitar man, harmonica slung in a rack around his neck, reinterpreting classic blues songs from the 1930s, ’40s, and ’50s. Yet, as several of his mid-’90s recordings for the Pointblank label demonstrate, he’s also a capable bandleader who plays wonderful electric guitar.
Born Nov. 13, 1942, in New York City, the son of the famous Columbia Records talent scout John Hammond, Sr., what most people don’t know is that Hammond didn’t grow up with his father. His parents split when he was young, and he would see his father several times a year. He first began playing guitar while attending a private high school, and he was particularly fascinated with slide guitar technique. He saw his idol, Jimmy Reed, perform at New York’s Apollo Theater, and he’s never been the same since.
After attending Antioch College in Ohio on a scholarship for a year, he left to pursue a career as a blues musician. By 1962, with the folk revival starting to heat up, Hammond had attracted a following in the coffeehouse circuit, performing in the tradition of the classic country blues singers he loved so much. By the time he was just 20 years old, he had been interviewed by the New York Times before one of his East Coast festival performances, and he was a certified national act.
When Hammond was living in the Village in 1966, a young Jimi Hendrix came through town looking for work. Hammond offered to put a band together for the guitarist, and got the group work at the Cafe Au Go Go. Hendrix was approached there by Chas Chandler, who took him to England to record. Hammond recalls telling the young Hendrix to take Chandler up on his offer. “The next time I saw him, about a year later, he was a big star in Europe,” Hammond recalled in a 1990 interview. In the late ’60s and early ’70s, Hammond continued his work with electric blues ensembles, recording with people like Band guitarist Robbie Robertson (and other members of The Band when they were still known as Levon Helm & the Hawks), Duane Allman, Dr. John, harmonica wiz Charlie Musselwhite, Michael Bloomfield and David Bromberg.
Hammond’s latest album Rough and Tough, his 33rd album since his 1962 self-titled debut, was nominated for a 2010 Grammy award in the Best Traditional Blues Album category — his seventh Grammy nomination. He is a 1985 Grammy winner for his performance on Blues Explosion, a compilation from the Montreux Jazz Festival.
“John’s sound is so compelling, complete, symmetrical and soulful with just his voice, guitar and harmonica, it is at first impossible to imagine improving it … He’s a great force of nature. John sounds like a big train coming. He chops them all down.” – Tom Waits
“John Hammond is a master … He is a virtuoso … A conjurer … A modernist … John is in a very small circle of men with a guitar and a harmonica: Jimmy Reed, Howlin’ Wolf, Bob Dylan. The guitar is an orchestra. He’s sending messages. Storytelling. All mystery. Protection. The language goes out through the night … The Big Boom. Boom the room.” – T Bone Burnett
Bill Coffey (billcoffey.com) has been singing and writing songs for two decades. This high-energy, roots-rock and retro-country singer, songwriter and guitar player has been compared to John Prine, Gram Parsons, Townes Van Zandt and Bruce Springsteen. Both as a solo artist and in various groups, Coffey has played tour dates throughout the West and shared the stage with such artists as John Hiatt, Dwight Yoakam, Todd Snider, Alejandro Escovedo, John Hammond, Peter Case, Glen Phillips and many others.