After seeing his performance at Richmond’s intimate Tin Pan along with a sold out crowd of very enthusiastic audience members, there’s no doubt that Trout is back and has a renewed love for the music.
On this rainy evening, Trout and company connected with the crowd by playing some incredible blues from his last couple of albums plus a few from previous releases, and all mixed in with extended jams that electrified the audience. It was rare when there wasn’t appreciative applause for their work during the songs themselves.
After a solid instrumental open, the band moved into I Can Tell that featured some impressive keyboard work from Sammy Avila. Avila was one of the trio that backed Trout’s monster guitar work, the others being Avila’s son Danny on bass and Michael Leasure on drums. At various points, Trout’s son Jon would join them on stage and add some hot guitar. More on that later.
Without even pausing, the band segued into Walking In The Rain before Trout began to talk directly to the audience between songs. He commented that he believed this to be his first time in Richmond, unless it was during his Canned Heat days. He wasn’t sure as that was five years he couldn’t remember.
(Later, in a private conversation after the show, Trout recollected that he had played Richmond once before about thirty years prior when he was playing with John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers.)
From there he called for some “nasty slow blues,” and the band obliged by playing the blistering As The Year’s Go Passing By. One look at Trout’s face during this song and it was obvious just how transformative the music was to him. He had a look of pure peace during his playing and it was easy to see just how happy he was to be able to perform at this level.
Then, he talked a little bit about what he went through and how those struggles lead to the creation of his album, Battle Scars. He wrote that album as therapy during his battle – and it was a long time before he could actually create art from it. He said at one point, he wrote “17 or 18 songs in one day.” While this received a good laugh, I suspect it wasn’t too far removed from the truth as when creative urges are bottled up for that long, it can eventually lead to an explosion of art.
Trout then played two songs from the album, the opening tract, I’m Almost Gone, and then I Ain’t Ready For The Cold Cold Ground. After finishing those very emotional songs, he brought out his son Jon to join him on a couple from his latest album, We’re All In This Together.
This is an album that Trout created with a number of his friends that included such heavyweights as Mayall, Joe Bonamassa, Kenny Wayne Shepherd, Warren Haynes, Eric Gales, Charlie Musselwhite and so many more. He said he wanted something a little lighter than Battle Scars, and this album is still in the Top Ten after nine months of release.
Jon Trout stepped up and played the two songs that Shepherd and Bonamassa played on and didn’t miss a lick. It’s very clear that the guitar playing gene did not skip a generation and that Jon Trout could hold his own in any band should he so choose. It was evident that his father was proud of his work and derived a lot of pleasure from having the chance to play together in front of an appreciative audience.
After Jon Trout stepped off the stage, Trout called for some more slow blues and they delivered Got The Blues For My Baby, with Trout stepping away from the microphone at one point and belting out the lyrics unamplified and still filling the room.
Trout then told the most poignant story of the night, of the times when he wanted to give up and die and his wife holding him and having the strength for both of them. The song he wrote for her, Take Me Home, brought up a lot of emotion and there were many of us in the audience that were crying from its power. Son Jon returned to add acoustic guitar to the number.
As the show was nearly over, the band moved into Serve Me Right To Suffer and some jamming from bassist Danny Avila and drummer Michael Leasure. Trout then used his platform to encourage people to become organ donors, that he was only there because someone had decided to become one. Honestly, to me, it’s a no brainer. If you can help someone when you are no longer on this earth, please take the opportunity.
After sustained applause, Trout and company came back for an encore and then spent a good deal of time talking with fans like we were old friends.
I love live music, and it wasn’t so long ago that I thought I would never get to add Trout’s name to my concert list. His playing is truly phenomenal and I can say without fear of contradiction that he is one of the best I’ve ever had the pleasure of catching live. I hope you will do the same. You can find him at https://www.waltertrout.com/ and you can see who the Tin Pan has coming in at https://www.tinpanrva.com/.
(Photos by Anita Schlank and used by permission.)