A Mighty Love: Fitting Tribute For A Mighty Man
I am privileged to have been invited to cover A Mighty Love: A Tribute to Mighty Sam McClain, which was a tribute to the late great soul/blues/rhythm and blues singer who died six months ago. The all-star cast of musicians paid loving tribute to a man they called friend, mentor, and – in the case of Sandra McClain – husband. In addition, this was a benefit for charities seeking to end homelessness, a cause near and dear to Mighty Sam’s heart.
I had not seen Mighty Sam perform in a number of years (fifteen or so), so I especially loved the montage playing on the screen behind the stage as I entered the Regent Theatre. Mighty Sam was singing ‘Amazing Grace’ which brought a tear to my eyes. Bob Teague sat at a corner of the stage, playing guitar during the montage.
Before the music began, Sandra spoke of Sam. It was evident from her words that they truly cherished each other and that she played a huge part in his career.
The members of The Mighty Sam McClain Band came to the stage to speak a few words about Mighty Sam and perform several of Sam’s songs. Two of the songs they played were ‘Show Me the Way’ and ‘Don’t Doubt My Love’.
The members of the band are Scott Shetler on sax, Russell Jewell on trombone, Matt Rivero on trumpet, Michael Rossi on bass, Rick Page on drums, and Joe Deleault on keyboards.
The next artist to perform was Big James Montgomery (do not confuse him with the Boston-based harmonica player), a soul/blues trombone player from Chicago. I was not familiar with him prior to this show, but was extremely impressed with his playing and hope he returns to the Boston area to play a headlining show.
He spoke with great emotion about Mighty Sam, whom he considered a mentor and a huge influence on his life. He played ‘Pass the Peas’ and ‘If It Wasn’t For the Blues’. Two great songs!
Tyler Morris, a 17-year old blues guitarist from the Boston area joined the band for a few numbers throughout the show. He surprised me with his talent as well as the way he ‘feels’ the blues, and I think he has a long music career ahead of him if he chooses one.
Next up was The Wait, a rock band also from the Boston area which is fronted by John McGah on guitar and vocals, organizer of this amazing event.
These guys rocked us on ‘Soul Searching Man’ and ‘Coming on so Strong’! Big Jack Ward on guitar, Grag Scapicchio on bass, Dom Botolino on guitar and vocals, Shawn Norton on drums, and Kevin Faller on keys comprise The Wait. They were joined by Concetta, a Boston-based singer, on vocals.
Following The Wait was Digney Fignus, another Boston-based rocker who had a long relationship with Mighty Sam.
He appeared with mandolin player Chris Ledbetter, who also backed Digney on vocals.
Bob Teague then spoke about Mighty Sam and played a couple of mellower songs.
Last to the stage before the intermission was Ted Drozdowski, an incredible blues guitarist with a fantastic voice, who knew Mighty Sam well. Ted wrote a number of essays about Mighty Sam, and it is obvious how much Ted loved him.
He spoke for perhaps longer than the other musicians about his friendship with Mighty Sam; there may have been a tear in his eye as he spoke.
One of the songs Ted performed was the last song written by Mighty Sam, and this was its world première! Ted treated it with great love and the audience was thrilled.
As the first set came to a close, Jim Carty, a legend on the Boston music scene, spoke a few words and (I believe) raffled a guitar bearing the signatures of all the musicians performing this night as well as others.
After the set break, Norwegian blues guitarist Knut Reiersrud performed several songs with Icelandic harmonica player Thorleifur Davidsson. Wow!!!
This was the act of the evening that completely amazed me – I had never heard of Knut so I had no idea what to expect from him. His version of ‘What a Wonderful World’ might just be the best I have ever heard.
Thorleif is a fantastic harmonica player who is currently attending Berklee College of Music, so I know I will see him playing around. I hope Knut returns to the area soon!
Concetta and Dave Keller, a Vermont-based blues musician, took the stage to perform a song. I saw Dave perform an opening set at a show last year and enjoyed him, but at this show I felt that his great talent shined. Concetta has a terrific voice, and I hope to see her again.
Following this song, Bob Moore, another Boston-based musician, spoke a few words and sang ‘Please Stand Up’.
We were then led toward the grand finale. Dave sang ‘A Change is Gonna Come’ which is perhaps the song for which Mighty Sam is best known. He was backed by the Mighty Sam McClain Band, who were on stage for much of the show.
The finale was the Doobie Brothers’ song ‘Long Train Running’ and was performed by most of the musicians who participated in this tribute show.
What a night! As we left the auditorium, ‘Mighty Sam McClain’, a song written by Mark Stepakoff, played. A stellar ending to a fantastic show!
I was lucky enough to be invited to the after-party where I had the opportunity to hear even more about Mighty Sam from Sandra and some of the musicians who performed. I feel that I got a good glimpse into the soul of the man and know how he lived with integrity, honesty, and purpose. I wish I had known him personally…
Thanks to Callanan & Klein Communcations for the ticket; all opinions are my own.
Posted on December 6, 2015, in concert photos, concert reviews, music, Uncategorized and tagged A Mighty Love, Bob Moore, Bob Teague, boston, concert photos, concert review, Dave Keller, Digney Fignus, John McGah, Knut Reiersrud, Mighty Sam McClain, Regent Theatre, Ted Drozdowski, The Wait, Tyler Morris. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.