Who: Walter Trout, Captain Buzz Face
Where: The Coach House in San Juan Capistrano, CA
When: Friday, Feb. 28, 2020
Next: Belly Up in Solana Beach, CA on Sunday, March 1, 2020
More information: www.WalterTrout.com
Review by Robert Kinsler
Photos by Bob Steshetz
|Singer-songwriter/guitar great Walter Trout launched his Survivor|
Blues Tour 2020 at The Coach House on Feb. 28, 2020.
Blues great Walter Trout kicked off his aptly-titled "Survivor Blues Tour 2020" with a powerful and inspired 130-minute appearance at The Coach House in San Juan Capistrano on Friday night.
Trout – who received a liver transplant in May 2014 and subsequently went through extensive rehabilitation to regain his health and ability to perform – noted that he is performing with a thrice-broken pinky finger on his left hand. Despite not having the use of his little finger, Trout shredded away on the fretboard of his beloved Fender guitar with his signature zeal.
The show served as both a homecoming celebration (San Juan Capistrano is about a 30-minute drive south of Trout's long-time residence in Huntington Beach) and the launch of an ambitious tour that will take him across the U.S. in March before he heads to Australia in April and then on to Europe in May, June, July and August.
The capacity crowd that packed The Coach House early on Friday was treated to a show highlighting Trout's enduring strengths as singer, songwriter and one of the world's greatest-ever blues-rock guitar players. That was displayed from the moment Trout and his top-tier trio of backing players took the stage, the long introduction of his opening salvo "I Can Tell" providing the perfect opportunity for Trout to tear into a long lead solo.
|Walter Trout in action at The Coach House.|
The set included raging electric blues offerings like the aforementioned "I Can Tell" to be sure, but Trout's expansive talent as an artist was exhibited by a diverse setlist that included the introspective "Me, My Guitar and the Blues" off his latest album (last year's Survivor Blues), heavy "Saw My Mama Cryin'," the stirring soul gem "Common Ground," and intoxicating title song off his 2001 album Go The Distance, which was particularly potent with the song's quiet interlude ultimately a showcase for some especially-expressive guitar work.
One of the definite highlights of the night was when Trout spoke of the period of his life when he was suffering in the wake of liver disease and he lost 120 pounds in a four-month period. One night while he was lying in a hospital bed alone he experienced an out-of-body experience, and recalled being drawn to a brilliant white light on what was a period of reflection where he drew even more fortitude in his quest to return to survive.
|Drummer Michael Leasure behind the kit.|
The fast-moving performance included several guests (including blues harp virtuoso Bob Landgraff) coming up on stage during "Blues for Jimmy T." and "Gonna Hurt Like Hell," and an extended run through Floyd Lee's "Red Sun" where members of his own band were featured via impressive solo turns. "The Best You Got" was performed as an encore, with Trout fusing both blues and jazz licks into his soloing on the original for a dramatic finish.
|Walter Trout in tune with the music.|
This was a night to celebrate Trout's inspiring life story, as well as his powerful musical legacy that finds the artist continuing to release a series of ongoing masterworks that draw strength from his journey and then going out on the road to further develop the force of those tracks.
Opening for Trout was Captain Buzz Face, a rising quartet featuring Trout's sons Mike Trout (the singer-guitarist is no relation to the superstar Angels outfielder) and drummer Dylan Trout. The band's sound was mostly focused on a punk rock sound, with the exception of a terrific raucous take on the Howlin' Wolf classic "Commit a Crime." Among the memorable original cuts was the set-ending fast tempo punk rock cut "Let Me Out."
|Captain Buzz Face performing at The Coach House in San Juan Capistrano, CA on Feb. 28, 2020.|