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Night 2: The devil went down to Edmonton

Artist: Eddie "Devil Boy" Turner Trio // Date: 3 October 2009 // Genre: Blues Rock

Eddie Turner (courtesy Eddie Turner)

Eddie Turner (courtesy Eddie Turner)

I won't lie, I was excited about this show. Ever since guesting on tenor with James Boraski & MomentaryEvolution back in Yellowknife, I've loved playing — and listening to — the blues. Yet I wasn't let down any when he pulled out the classic rock; his style can't help but invoke the spirit of Jimi Hendrix. Like Hendrix, Eddie Turner, all the way from Denver, has a very carefully cultivated electric sound, even while live. You know that when a note sounds a certain way, it's no accident — that note, with all of its own life and character, has no choice but to flow along the channel he has dug for it. Modern artists seem addicted to using as many effects as possible — with the result being a muddy, distorted mess — but there's no way I can knock Turner for his judicious use of reverb/delay, overdrive, the odd bit of phasing, and wah "when the mood strikes."

He took "just a Stratocaster" (like Hendrix) and turned it into something more. The delay was particularly striking, especially when he would start to harmonize with himself on solos. On the opening number of the second set he had his mic wired through delay, and combined with his guitar playing, it lent the number a chills-down-the-spine psychedelic power I haven't ever heard live before.

Stray demons
He also had the worst case of guitar face (For an explanation of "guitar face", see this video. Or rather, please don't) that I've ever seen. But only from the best solos does the guitar face come. You could almost feel him channeling otherworldly spirits as he crafted some licks, you could almost feel him weaving the essence of stray demons into the fabric of his solos; the guitar face was a natural product of  the sheer effort of contorting music into otherworldly creations. By the last song, I could see why they call him Eddie "Devil Boy" Turner.

Jimmy Trujillo (courtesy Eddie Turner)

Jimmy Trujillo (courtesy Eddie Turner)

From the Yardbird Suite's description of Eddie Turner: "Born in Cuba and raised in Chicago, Eddie's influences stem from both the Afro-Cuban rhythms of his heritage and his immersion at a young age in all kinds of music, especially Chicago blues, jazz, rock and R&B." Turner was backed by Jimmy Trujillo on bass and Tony Black on drums. Trujillo played a six string straight through the night, and was surprised me was how dexterously he managed the extra-wide fretboard. The drumming fit perfectly with the vintage rock sound, and the stage was littered with a half-dozen broken sticks by the end. It was a good night.

The blues he did play were no less spectacular - his voice reminds me of a record Elvis Costello cut with Allen Toussaint ("The River in Reverse"): full, yet almost with a vintage clipping to it. In his conversations with the audience, he felt very disconnected socially, but he more than made it up by how he drew people in. Five minute solos didn't seem like enough anymore after the first set; you could see people being drawn out of their shells, drawn in by his music. I think that night may have been the first time in a long time that the Yardbird has seen anyone on their feet dancing.

I don't know why Northern Blues hasn't released Turner's most recent record. He played a number of songs from it, and they were by far the best. Then again, maybe that's why they haven't — Experience Hendrix has made fortunes off Hendrix's unreleased tracks.

[My kudos go out to the guys and gals manning the soundboard at the Yardbird - it's always clean, just loud enough and all-around excellent. This holds even with groups that are usually tough to balance, such as Turner.]


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