For the crowd at Stubb's on Thursday night in Austin, that answer was obvious, George Thorogood and The Destroyers.
Billing themselves as the "World's Greatest Bar Band" that moniker may be true, but I doubt most bar's could fit George's massive hi-tech stage kit, much less find parking for his buses and trucks. George and the band put all that state of the art gear to good use too, as I wandered about listening to one of the best stage mixes I have heard in a while.
I have been a fan of George's music for a long time, way before "Bad To The Bone" hit the airplay over-saturation point. I first heard him in 1977 when KLBJ added cuts from his second album to their airplay list. Released during the peak of the disco era, his sound found a home on the few AOR rock stations still struggling to stay relevant. It also paved the way for a resurgence in blues guitar, making it easier for musicians like Stevie Ray Vaughn to break into the main stream in the 80's.
George Thorogood and his Gibson photo by Jeff Barringer - Staff Photographer
I walked forty-seven miles of barbed wire, I got a cobra snake for a necktie
A brand new house on the road side, and it's made out of rattlesnake hide
Got a brand new chimney put on top, and it's made out of human skulls
Come on take a little walk with me child, tell me who do you love?
Thorogood's raspy bar-room brawling blues style mixing hooky guitar riffs and growling vocals has always fit my image of the classic bar band. If songs like "I Drink Alone" and John Lee Hooker's "One Bourbon, One Scotch, One Beer" help solidify that, his audience helped gel that image as well, there being no shortage of Harleys parked out front or leather and denim inside. The crowd was definitely the older, surlier type, but the only fight that occurred happened at the end. After the lights came back on, one massive behemoth in the front of the crowd cold-cocked another massive behemoth standing beside him, the row requiring 4 or 5 massive security guards to get settled out.
This was basically a greatest hits show of his best work from the 70's, 80's, and 90's, and if your a fan of George Thorogood's music it's a fantastic set to catch. If you're in North America, George is touring from now until the end of August, go see him if you get the chance. He is a consummate professional on stage, as is the rest of his band and he knows how to work the stage and his audience. The sound was close to perfect, as was his light show. In fact from my perspective as a photographer, it had one of the best light setups I have ever worked, and the photos I took of this show are some of my best.
Jim Suhler and Monkey Beat photo by Jeff Barringer - Staff Photographer
Opening the set was Jim Suhler and Monkey Beat, a blues rock outfit out of Dallas. Suhler, has been working as Thorogood's second guitarist on stage since 1999, and his bands experience opening for the Destroyers has paid dividends. You can hear where George's riffs have left their imprint, while the band itself has a distinctly different sound, with a slight funky cajun influence. That's not to say that Suhler is any slouch as a blues player himself. As owner of the Deep Ellum Blues club in Dallas, Suhler has long been a fixture on the Texas blues scene.
George Thorogood and Jim Suhler perform at Stubb's - photo by Jeff Barringer - Staff Photographer