BIG TRAIN A-COMIN'
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Tom Waits called his sound "compelling, complete, symmetrical and soulful; a "great force of nature" that arrives "like a big train coming."
"A virtuoso. A conjurer. A modernist," said no less an authority on American music than T-Bone Burnett. "The language goes out through the night...The Big Boom. Boom the room."
The performer they're talking about is John Hammond, an artist with a recording career that dates back 50 years - and with a name that in and of itself conjures an entire American century of world-shaking sounds.
As musical pedigrees go, they don't come much more awesome than being the son of legendary record man and activist John H. Hammond - the same Hammond who's credited with discovering everyone from Basie to Billie Holliday, Bob Dylan to the Boss. That said, John Paul Hammond has independently and indisputably forged a name for himself as a master blues guitarist and vocalist; a Blues Hall of Famer and multiple Grammy nominee whose recorded debut in 1962 served to keynote a journey that would take in eclectic collaborations with the likes of Waits (whose music formed the foundation of 2001's Grammy-nominated Wicked Grin), Dr. John, Duane Allman, Robbie Robertson, and G. Love.
The man who once boasted both Eric Clapton and Jimi Hendrix in his band continues to stake his considerable reputation on his skills as a solo performer - and on the evening of Friday, April 5, the ongoing journey brings John Hammond to the stage of one of the area's premier venues for acoustic music, the Pollak Theatre at Monmouth University.
Presented as part of the 2012-2013 Performing Arts Series by the Center for the Arts at Monmouth, the 8 p.m. event finds Hammond doing what he does best - delivering the blues, through his big voice and harmonica and National guitar. - in a way that renders any further embellishment moot. With acoustic blues having been rediscovered - as it has been every so often, by a new generation of fans - Hammond stands uniquely poised to "show them how it's done," with laserlike focus, crossroads authority and a youngblood troubador's passion that hasn't dimmed a lick since he emerged from the Greenwich Village scene of the early 1960s.
Fans of homegrown blues are in for an additional treat, as the concert features a special guest opening set by Billy Hector, the veteran slide guitarist, blues belter and songsmith whose résumé as a bandleader (Hot Romance, The Fairlanes, The Shots) and solo performer has seen him share the stage as a peer of some of the most formidable names in music (including the late blues pioneer Hubert Sumlin) - and dazzle crowds with regular headline spots at Jersey Shore Jazz and Blues Festival events. It promises to be a fine fit for Hammond, who remains an artist with impeccable taste in music, his instrument, and the audience he plays to.
The Performing Arts series continues into Spring 2013 with concerts by Step Afrika (April 12), Southside Johnny and the Poor Fools (April 13) and Roger McGuinn (April 19). For additional information on these and other events, or to purchase tickets, please contact the Monmouth University Performing Arts Box Office at 732-263-6889, or online atwww.monmouth.edu/arts. To schedule an interview, please contact Eileen Chapman at 732-571-3512.