The 40th edition of the Dallas International Guitar Festival began with a large crowd at Gas Monkey Live and a jam session featuring local and national artists. Local musician and businessman Jimmy Wallace brought out his legendary Dallas-based group – THE STRATOBLASTERS to begin the night. It’s hard not to have as much fun as they did and still be true professionals, but they have learned how to do both after so many years of playing.
Guitarist and vocalist Jerry Don Branch electrified the crowd with “Palace Of The King” before GARY HOEY jumped in the mix to start a jam session. John O’Daniel’s voice pleased the crowd, as did Mike Gage on drums and Matt Tapp and Randy Cates on lead and bass.
GEORGE LYNCH and VAN WILKS joined the ever-increasing stage where guitars ruled the night. DEREK ST. HOLMES showed up and added another level to the mix. LANCE LOPEZ and ERIC GALES came out and played lights out, as the two friends always do. KARA GRAINGER showed off a beautiful voice and guitar skills. BOSCOE FRANCE kicked it into gear and told me afterward that he was having the time of his life.
It was exhilarating to see the kids come onstage and play. REECE MALONE and KELSI KEE showed an unbelievable amount of talent for youngsters who aren’t even old enough to get their learners permits. ALLY VENABLE is going places in the blues world. Get out to support these kids as they are keeping the music alive.
The musical talent was mind-blowing. The rich base of blues in Dallas mixed with national and international stars gave the fans more than they expected. Earlier in the day, while checking in to see STONE COLD SWEAT play, Lance and Gary joined them to lead a jam session that rivaled the best dual solos and guitar duels played in a long time. It was thrilling to see and hear it.
Knowing he was short on time after such an impressive jam session, IAN MOORE came to the stage quickly and explained that he would fit in as many songs as possible in the time allowed. From previous personal interactions with him, I knew he would still give the fans a damn good show and the respect that each song deserved.
A hard drum beat by Travis Foster began an exquisite cover of MUDDY WATERS’ “Champagne and Reefer.” Ian’s expressive face while playing showed the passion he had for the song and the admiration he had for one of the original masters of the blues.
The music exploded on “How Does It Feel” after Ben Jarrad’s bass opening. Moore’s emotion poured through as his wrist action allowed him to strike notes more easily. The crowd then hit a new decibel threshold at the opening notes of his biggest hit, “Muddy Jesus.” The extended version of the hit song contained a passionate solo inside a jam session that enthralled everyone.
Moore gave a shout out to all his Texas friends in the house and told that he came to write “Today” while trying to escape TED NUGENT who had a beef with his drummer many years ago. The whole band aligned with his soulful message, with keyboardist Chris Gebhard moving to rhythm guitar to add another layer to the sound.
The finger-picking intro to “Satisfied” set the tone before the meaningful lyrics made it a complete song that resonated with the fans. The solo pumped up the crowd and the audience cleared a spot to make a dance floor. Couples twirled and individuals swayed, and one misfit even twerked, as the music meant something special to everyone. Moore played to the crowd during “Harlem.” The foreboding lyrics told such a strong story, part of what made this so special.
His expressive vocals, the tempo and the musical tone combined with the distinctive flair of strumming with his wrist and not just his hand made this a visual event as well. He played in front of his amps for a different sound added to the effect he was trying to achieve.
As soon as Ian mentioned boogie blues, the faithful crowd knew he was going to play a tribute to hometown hero FREDDIE KING. They were right as everyone in the band got a chance to shine on “Me And My Guitar,” a defining song in Moore’s life. His fervent hand gestures preceded a soft solo in the tribute song. Fans could feel his passion for the music.
The show was over much too soon, but it ended properly with a substantive song from his first album that he wrote for his mother. The stunning lyrics again made this a terrific song, and the individual notes sounded like beautiful words.
His solo was surrounded by drum, bass and keys that formed a loving testimonial, not just a song. It brought out an emotional reaction from the crowd, then a hard chord change shifted to a jam session to give the listeners a complete musical effect to end the night.
Moore has so many irons in the fire and enjoys all of them. He excels as a singer/songwriter and also as a producer and engineer. He has added businessman, Grammy Governor and philanthropist to his long list of accomplishments. His songs provide intellectual stimulation as well as just being fun to hear.
Catch Ian on tour promoting his latest album, Strange Days. You’ll be glad you did.
LIVE IMAGES: GUZPIX
LIVE WORDS: DAVID SIMERS