Words and pictures by Duane Clawson
Throughout musical history there have been musical parings that have been just too good to be true, The Rides are one of those groups. On paper, the pairing of Stephen Stills and Kenny Wayne Shepherd seems a bit weird, as Mr.Stills is known for his works with folk rock legends Buffalo Springfield and Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young. While the still relatively young Kenny Wayne Shepherd is known for his abilities as a blues guitarist and the hit, “Blue on Black”. But putting all this aside, this pairing just works and I was lucky enough to catch the magic at St. Louis’ River City Casino. The supporting cast for these two guitar legends is equally impressive and includes Chris Layton (Stevie Ray Vaughn’s Double Trouble) on drums, Kevin McCormick (Jackson Browne) on bass, and Barry Goldberg (Electric Flag) on keyboards. To open the show was an artist I have been a fan of since first hearing her music in 1999, Beth Hart. Beth’s powerful voice is the raspy equivalent of smoking three packs of non-filter cigarettes and chasing them with a half bottle of Tennessee whiskey. Beth’s set list can vary greatly from night to night, and this show was no exception. Beth opted for a set of more obscure songs from her catalog with her hit “Delicious Surprise” being the standout in the abbreviated seven-song warm up. But Beth did become intimate with the St. Louis audience as she sang from her knees and while sitting on the edge of the stage. Beth gave River City all she had while entertaining fans old and new. Miss Hart proved to be a proper segue for The Rides' guitar-driven, blues-infused brand of music.
From the onset, The Rides' one-hour and forty-five minute musical odyssey had one defining quality that was quite noticeable: respect. Respect for each member's musical abilities and allowing each band member to shine when the time was right. The elder statesman of the band, Stephen Stills, probably had more shining moments than the others, but rightfully so, as he is a two-time member of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. The night's first guitar moment belonged to Kenny Wayne Shepherd during the opening blues cover of Paul Butterfield’s “Born in Chicago”. As the band used the first four songs as a warm up, they found their stride during fifth song, a rousing cover of The Stooges' “Search and Destroy”. This song also served notice that this band can do it all. From here on out this concert was mixed bag of musical history including Gladys Knight and the Pips' ”I’ve Got to Use My Imagination”, Stephen Stills' revamped versions of “Tree Top Flyer”, “Love the One You’re With”, and Shepherd’s “Blue on Black”. At various times throughout the evening, one could find Kenny Wayne staring intently at the fretwork of Mr. Stills or maybe he just in awe of the moment, as most of us were. The River City Casino audience showed their appreciation for the assembled onstage talent with relentless standing ovations and various hoots and hollers between songs. My night of seeing and photographing music legends passed in the wink of an eye as The Rides took a quick break and returned to finish the night paying homage to Stills' former band mate, Neil Young with a gloriously loud version of “Rockin’ In the Free World”. Should I say it? You bet I’ll say it. Stills, Shepherd, Layton, McCormick, Goldberg, and Hart, thanks for taking MTC along for the ride! Pictures of the show are below:
Contributed by Duane Clawson
The Rides / Beth Hart @ River City Casino, St. Louis, MO Reviewed by Scott Rowe, Editor on 1:48:00 PM Rating: