On the current John Mayer Trio tour fans who fell in love with songs like “Wonderland”, the top 40 hit that compared the human anatomy to a theme park as well as other wonderful songs filled with nice-neat-sensitive male emotion, will be shocked by what they hear. Mayer has enlisted Pino Palladino and Steve Jordan, very skilled and seasoned professionals, to push the boundaries of his songs and guitar playing into the direction of the blues.
If you feel as though Mayer shouldn’t be playing the blues, take note of some of the people he has played with. He has preformed with Buddy Guy, played with Eric Clapton on Larry King’s Katrina benefit and is on B.B. Kings new album 80. If you still have doubts then you should see him as apart of this Trio.
His current tour opens with the blues classic, “Everyday I Have the Blues”. Mayer adopts the main riff of Freddie King’s version of “Woke Up This Morning”. Those who attend these shows will have no clue what I am talking about and thus it will sound like “Everyday I Have the Blues”. Later in the show he finds his way through “I Got A Woman” the Ray Charles classic and “Mr. Pitiful’ by Otis Redding. But what caused me to pause was hearing a version of “Ain’t Gonna Give Up On Love” from his September 6th show at the Fillmore. Mayer’s vocal and guitar haunted me with visions of Stevie Ray Vaughan the way Kenny Wayne and Johnny Lang never have. I was awe struck. Stirring is his ability to take a song identified with a legend and do it with style and taste. He continues to pay homage to the greats by closing his show with “Axis: Bold as Love” the second Hendrix cover in his set. “Wait Til Tomorrow” came early on in the show and the Trio locked into its groove to never let go. Hendrix like Stevie Ray is a tough person to cover. Many try and succeed at going over the top while forgetting the subtle nuances to Jimi’s complexity. “Axis” came off as classy and emotional, yet with a unique quality that didn’t compromise the spirit of Hendrix. Mayer’s guitar work will surprise individuals who view him only as a songwriter. His playing has equal parts- withered understanding and youthful energy. In person you see the passion, grace and emotion in his playing. A recording simply cannot provide the same experience. After witnessing the John Mayer Trio you know they understand the depths of the blues.
The John Mayer Trio’s webpage hints the possibility of live downloads. I would recommend checking these out if you are curious about the Trios sound. Just know that by the time they add songs to the website, the shows near you will be sold out.