Honeyboy Edwards & Marc Benno Live in NYC - by J. Blake

Posted on 3/16/2010 by J. Blake

(New York, NY)

Thursday night, March 11th, 2010, found New York blues fans filing into B.B. King’s Blues Club & Grill to see David “Honeyboy” Edwards; a blues legend and one of the last original Delta bluesmen.
Early birds to the show were able to catch Texas blues-guitarist Marc Benno, as he entertained the crowd with an opening set that ran just shy of an hour. Benno, who has played alongside everyone from The Doors and Eric Clapton to Lightnin’ Hopkins and Leon Russell, did not come off as incredibly enthusiastic; playing for the 300+ in attendance. His banter was kept to a minimum and though it was quite clear that he is a very talented and accomplished guitarist, his playing and the set in general lacked any kind of real excitement. The song-list consisted of pretty standard Texas-style blues fare; never really striving for anything outside of the box or challenging. The set did manage to pick up a little bit of momentum as New York native Michael Packer sat in on guitar for the band’s final number, but for the most part, Benno came across as an exceptional musician that seemed content with resting on his laurels.

After an excruciating 45 minute intermission (really how long could it possibly take to set up two guitars and three mics?), Honeyboy’s supporting guitarist, Rocky Lawrence, took the stage and opened the set with a few solo numbers. Lawrence, whose solo acoustic guitar playing is excellent, unfortunately does not have the same talent when delivering a lyric. That is not to say that his voice is bad. His voice is fine, but the man just does not have the vocal presence and the ability to interpret a lyric the way a bluesman needs to. His delivery came off as forced and insincere; almost the opposite of the blues greats. He has great potential, but it is going to take a lot of work before he reaches it.

After sitting through 45 minutes of rambling drunkard-filled intermission and 10 minutes of Lawrence’s solo efforts, the crowd was hungry for the legend they paid to see. Before Honeyboy took the stage, a representative of The National Guitar Museum stepped up to the mic; introducing the 94 year-old bluesman and presenting him with a lifetime achievement award. It is worth noting that Edwards also received the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in January of this year.

Now, when one goes to see an artist like Honeyboy Edwards, celebrating a lifetime of achievements is exactly what you are there to do and in his case it has been a long life, filled with a plethora of achievements. As this review seems to already be a laundry list of complaints about that evening’s performances, I’d like to avoid disrespecting one of the oldest living blues legends and just say that Edwards is long past his prime. Fans going to see him perform these days, should not expect too much from the 94 year-old bluesman and be content with the fact that they are really attending his shows to celebrate the man, his career and an art form that may continue to be successfully imitated, but will never be as genuine as it is when he is playing it.

*If you enjoyed this article, you may also enjoy: Bill Sims Jr. & Michael Packer CD Reviews or
Tim Woods just made a CD with Honeyboy.  Read about it here.

Thanks and keep reading American Blues News!!!

Copyright © 2010 - J. Blake. All Rights Reserved

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