Get through to the Blues

George Thorogood talks about the state of the Blues, keeping your electifying stage shows fresh, and the value of a good night’s sleep

George Thorogood and the Destroyers

George Thorogood and the Destroyers

Barry Coulter

Guitar legend George Thorogood will be very much in the house at Western Financial Place Sunday, April 24, but at the moment we’re keeping his location secret.

“I’ve sworn an oath to the government not to give away the whereabouts of my location,” he joked, “but I didn’t say which government.”

The inspiration and energy of Thorogood’s music and shows comes from the Blues, not least the Chicago Blues of the legendary artists of the Chess record (which Thorogood has paid tribute to on his most recent album 2120 South Michigan Ave, (the Chicago address of Chess Records).

Thorogood’s music is straight ahead and direct — there’s a direct throughline to Elmore James, Hound Dog Taylor, Chuck Berry, Bo Diddley, et al, and he’s even incorporated Hank Williams and Johnny Cash into his covers. His original material — like 1982’s “Bad To The Bone” — helped put him at the top of the pole.

He was a popular favorite in the early ‘80s through radio exposure and the arena rock circuit. But he has never gone away — he has released albums of covers and original songs through 2011, and his legendary stage show is as incendiary as ever.

He is also an heir to the Blues masters of yesteryear — never more so, in the Townsman’s opinion, than when he cranks up the slide guitar. Are we going to hear lots of that in his Cranbrook show.

“I sure hope so,” he says.

For slide guitar, he tunes his guitar to an open chord — open D or open G.

“You know what’s interesting: the Blues cats I’ve worked with — like Hound Dog Taylor and Robert Lockwood — when you tune it open like that they always call it ‘Spanish.’ I don’t know why they call that way — you’re either tuned to ‘natural’ or ‘Spanish.’

The Blues, of course, was a great influence on the great music of the 1960s and ‘70s. The Townsman asked Thorogood if the Blues was still a vital force and influence in today’s music.

“It still is, but it’s shrinking, and shrinking rapidly,” he answered. “Two summers ago we did a couple of shows with Buddy Guy — it was right after B.B. King had passed away — and we all lined up in a hallway when Buddy came to do his show and applauded him. He was very touched by this and everything, and he asked ‘why are you doing this?’ We said B.B. King just passed away, and passed the torch — yo u’re the number one guy now. You’re the top Bluesman left on the planet.

“The best blues guitarist outside of Buddy Guy is probably Elvin Bishop. The best Blues harp player is probably Charlie Musselwhite at this point, and the best Blues singer next to Buddy Guy is probably John Hammond.

“There’s only a handful left who really can deliver. And Buddy Guy is the last of that era, that time and genre of authentic Blues cats. I wouldn’t say it’s gone, but it’s dwindling. Taj Mahal can play the Blues as well as anybody, but he can play anything.”

“They have these Blues societies — but they’re more of an interpretation of the Blues, and homage to the Blues, as opposed to the real deal like Buddy Guy is.”

But when George Thorogood and the Destroyers hit the stage, though, Blues power is as fresh as ever.

It’s fresher,” Thorogood says, “because you get new people watching you play every night, who’ve never seen us play. There’s a lot who have seen us before, but the majority haven’t and will never see us again. So that does keep it fresh — you keep the regular customers happy, and turn on the new customers and hope they come back next time.”

Thorogood is renowned for his intense, high energy performance and an intense touring schedule.

“I’ve always appreciated the value of a good night’s sleep.”

So we won’t see you out in the bars afterwards, out partying?

“The party will be on the bandstand,” Thorogood assures us.

George Thorogood (lead vocals and lead guitar) and the Destroyers (Jeff Simon – drums, percussion; Billy Blough – bass guitar; Jim Suhler – rhythm guitar; Buddy Leach – saxophone, piano) take the stage at Western Financial Place in Cranbrook on Sunday, April 23, at 7:30 p.m.

Just Posted

A tent housing a mobile vaccination clinic. (Interior Health/Contributed)
Over 5K jabbed at Interior Health mobile COVID-19 vaccine clinics

The clinics have made stops in more than 40 communities since launching last week

Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry talks about B.C.’s plan to restart the province during a press conference at Legislature in Victoria, Tuesday, May 25, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
Interior Health COVID-19 cases falling slower than the rest of B.C.

More than a third of provincial cases announced Thursday came from the Interior

Students at Creston Valley Secondary School put together an art installation of a replica residential school room. (Photo by Kelsey Yates)
Creston students create art installation of residential school room

The replica was decorated with a small bed, school uniform, and notes written with pleas for help

A tent housing a mobile vaccination clinic. (Interior Health/Contributed)
Second dose vaccinations accelerating throughout region: Interior Health

To date, more than 675,000 doses have been administered throughout the region

It happened this week in 1914

June 13 - 19: Compiled by Dave Humphrey from the archived newspapers… Continue reading

Marco Mendicino, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship during a press conference in Ottawa on Thursday, May 13, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Canada to welcome 45,000 refugees this year, says immigration minister

Canada plans to increase persons admitted from 23,500 to 45,000 and expedite permanent residency applications

Emily Steele holds up a collage of her son, 16-year-old Elijah-Iain Beauregard who was stabbed and killed in June 2019, outside of Kelowna Law Courts on June 18. (Aaron Hemens/Capital News)
Kelowna woman who fatally stabbed teen facing up to 1.5 years of jail time

Her jail sentence would be followed by an additional one to 1.5 years of supervision

Cpl. Scott MacLeod and Police Service Dog Jago. Jago was killed in the line of duty on Thursday, June 17. (RCMP)
Abbotsford police, RCMP grieve 4-year-old service dog killed in line of duty

Jago killed by armed suspect during ‘high-risk’ incident in Alberta

The George Road wildfire near Lytton, B.C., has grown to 250 hectares. (BC Wildfire Service)
B.C. drone sighting halts helicopters fighting 250 hectares of wildfire

‘If a drone collides with firefighting aircraft the consequences could be deadly,’ says BC Wildfire Service

A dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine is pictured at a vaccination site in Vancouver Thursday, March 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
NACI advice to mix vaccines gets varied reaction from AstraZeneca double-dosers

NACI recommends an mRNA vaccine for all Canadians receiving a second dose of a COVID-19 vaccine

A aerial view shows the debris going into Quesnel Lake caused by a tailings pond breach near the town of Likely, B.C., Tuesday, Aug. 5, 2014. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Updated tailings code after Mount Polley an improvement: B.C. mines auditor

British Columbia’s chief auditor of mines has found changes to the province’s requirements for tailings storage facilities

A North Vancouver man was arrested Friday and three police officers were injured after a 10-person broke out at English Bay on June 19, 2021. (Youtube/Screen grab)
Man arrested, 3 police injured during 10-person brawl at Vancouver beach

The arrest was captured on video by bystanders, many of whom heckled the officers as they struggled with the handcuffed man

Patrick O’Brien, a 75-year-old fisherman, went missing near Port Angeles Thursday evening. (Courtesy of U.S. Coast Guard)
Search for lost fisherman near Victoria suspended, U.S. Coast Guard says

The 75-year-old man was reported missing Thursday evening

Most Read