Walter Trout returned to the Twin Cities January 31st to perform at the Cedar Cultural Center in Minneapolis. He is based in Huntington Beach, California. Walter Trout & Eric Gales are touring together in the United States for a two-week tour. Survivor Blues is Walter Trout’s newest album, released only a few days ago, paying tribute to unique blues songs that haven’t been covered before. This was my first show at the Cedar Cultural Center. When I walked in, I saw local legend Jelly Bean Johnson in line in front of me wearing a big red furry coat. Seeing Jelly Bean in line to get in, I knew that this was going to be a great show.
Eric Gales Band
The Eric Gales band opened the night. Born in Memphis and currently is residing in Greensboro, North Carolina. Gales is described by guitarist Joe Bonamassa, as “One of the best, if not the best guitar player in the world”. The audience at the Cedar was in for a treat, by hearing the unreleased songs from his newest album Eric Gales Book Ends which is to be released February 8th. Gales was happy to return to his second home in Minnesota, from living here for two years. He played South Paul Serenade a song about growing up learning to play the guitar upside down and left-handed. Gales told the audience he had to play one of his favorites “Boogie Man” from Middle of the Road album featured Gary Clark Jr.
Gales energy was reflected from the audience and put into his electrifying guitar playing. It was great seeing percussionist Ladonna Gales, his wife, performing by his side. This was a celebration of a man who has been sober for two and a half years. Gales told the emotional story of his struggles with addiction, and triumph. This was an indescribable shared moment of the audience showing their respect and support of his sobriety. Gales continued to give the audience everything he had for the remainder of his performance.
The Walter Trout Band
As Walter Trout walked out on the stage the crowd riled up until he played his first note they became still and quiet. The band opened the show with a fun upbeat blues shuffle tune. The second song played was dedicated to Minnesota’s blues guitarist who was sitting in the audience, Bernard Allison, (son of legend Luther Allison) titled I am Back. The band played the first title track from newly released Survivor Blues called Me, My Guitar and the Blues written by Jimmy Dawkins. The crowd was excited to hear a slow blues minor standard. Between verses when Trout sang the audience would start to cheer and whistle. For the first time ever, in front of an audience, the band played Natures Disappearing by John Mayall. Trout talked about Mayall, his former boss when he was in the Bluesbreakers band back in the 80s. Eric Clapton happened to be the guitarist in the Bluesbreakers from 1965-66.
The audience was treated to a closing celebration encore jam. Gales was welcomed back to the stage to join the Walter Trout band in an epic ten-minute version of Jimi Hendrix’s Red House. The crowd went wild hearing the two play off of another.
Together, the audience and I witnessed two blues guitarists, survivors. Both of them battled addiction, and Walter Trout, two years ago had liver disease and had a liver transplant. It was a legendary emotional show to see these individuals share their stories, and share a great musical experience with this Minneapolis crowd.